Being a paramedic is by no means an easy job. Paramedics work around the clock saving lives and keeping people safe. Unfortunately some of the things people do or say either intentionally or unintentionally make paramedics jobs and lives even more difficult. While none of these offences are actually funny when they happen, we want to shed some light on them as humorously as possible, and maybe help make our paramedic friends jobs a little less difficult in the process.
1. Awful Question #1: “What is the worst thing you’ve seen?”
Really? Think about that one first. Do you really want to hear this? Paramedics have seen things that you cannot even imagine and probably don't even want to imagine. Not to mention, asking them to relive the worst things they have seen to satisfy your morbid curiosity or need for entertainment is pretty low. Maybe stick with inspiring questions like “What was the most amazing life-saving story of your career so far?” Just a thought…
2. Hoax Calls
Ugh. Grow up, fast. This one is really messed up. In the month of June 2014, in the state of NSW, more than 180,000 of the 618,000 emergency calls made to triple-0 were deemed as "non-genuine", made by pranksters, time-wasters and the mentally ill.
This means that genuine calls might not be responded to as quickly because operators are busy dealing with hoax calls from people doing things like, trying to get pizza delivered via ambulance. Yeah, that really happens. Paramedics might then experience a delay in getting to the scene of a real emergency that could have major consequences. Lest you should still think this is funny, know this: Making hoax calls to emergency services is a criminal offence with massive fines and criminal records awaiting for those who dare. Please un-friend anyone you know who does this.
3. Lonely Triple-0 Calls
This one is probably more sad than anything. While these callers might not be up to hijinks, they are still holding up operators from dealing with real life-threatening situations. People who call because they are just lonely and want to chat come under this banner. We suggest that the lonely call Lifeline Australia for a pep-talk.
4. Drug Dialing
No, much to the dismay of the desperate, the etymology of the word paramedic doesn’t trace its roots to “drug delivery service.” When patients report their pain level is 10 out of 10 without so much as a grimace, it really puts paramedics in a frustrating position. Firstly, no you are not getting any drugs. Second, consider that these pros have seen the face of pain over and over. Even Hugh Jackman couldn’t pull off this lie. Third, the face you are going to see is one very angry paramedic trying to maintain his professionalism. Don’t bother trying to get aggressive, either. The police are never too far from an ambulance radio.
5. Non-emergency Calls
We get it. This is the worst toothache you’ve ever had. It hurts, sure, but you probably didn’t need to call the paramedics. Unfortunately, there are accounts of paramedics called to residences only to meet some one with a slight bump, a sprain, a common cold or someone in need of a Band-Aid. It sounds funny, but it happens, and to the arriving medic there’s nothing funny about it. Emergency services are called emergency services for a reason. For all else, consult a first aid book or visit your local general practitioner.
6. Ambulance = Free Hospital Taxi, Right?
Not so fast. Patient is on-board with an ingrown toenail that previously they assured you was so bad they couldn't walk let alone drive to the hospital. Halfway there they decide to let you in on their oh so clever plan. Really the ingrown toenail is not that bad, but knowing how long hospital waiting times can be they thought 4am on a Monday morning would be nice and quiet so they wouldn't have to wait that long. Plus being brought in by an ambulance has to get them seen as a priority right? (Wrong)
7. Ambulance = Priority Patient
Two words: triage system, and no that’s not how it works. This applies to patients no matter if they arrive to hospital on foot, car, ambulance or space ship. The patients who are in the most critical conditions will be seen and attended to first and foremost and the rest will be seen when the hospital staff have time.
8. No, I Didn’t Take Anything Officer
Understandable, some patients might not want to tell paramedics they’ve been out raving all night popping pills, because they don't want to get in trouble (paranoia is no fun right). Paramedics are not the police. That kind of information remains confidential, and it enables paramedics to figure out the best treatment. Besides, from experience and patient vital signs, paramedics can most likely tell which drugs have been taken, so it pays to just be honest.
9. Back Seat Drivers
No one appreciates a back seat driver, especially ambulance drivers. So you think you know a shortcut? Take this back street, you should be in that lane, why aren't your sirens on? It is about this time that a paramedic might advise you that it is against the law for the person driving the ambulance to be talking to you while operating the vehicle, so they can pull over if you really need to talk, but their main objective is to get to the hospital. Whether you are the patient or there for support, take some me-time, sit back, and enjoy the ride. More importantly, if you’re in back you likely need to save your energy.
10. Accusations of Emotional Bottling
Paramedics are faced with many emotionally arousing situations on a regular basis so it is important for them to build up a healthy level of detachment in order to deal with some of the tragedies that they face. Because paramedics are really good at handling their emotions, they can come across to some people as a bit stoic or uncaring. This is rarely the case; paramedics still experience the full range of human emotions. They just have a higher threshold for dealing with adversities. So if the family pet passes away peacefully after a good long life and your paramedic family member doesn't cry, this doesn't mean he or she is a robot with no feelings, it just means he or she is well acquainted in dealing with the ups and downs of life. In other words: kindly back off, mate.
Know someone who’s a paramedic? You could send this to them and title the email “I understand you so much more now.” Or you could post it on their Facebook page. One thing paramedics do like is a good chuckle from time to time. Most paramedics we know have pretty a pretty tough sense of humour. They will probably accuse us of being too nice. Hey, what can we say? We’re Medshop Australia.