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Biting the hand that saves

In this morning's Boston Herald, there's a story about EMTs in and around Boston. It seems that saving lives and helping people is its own reward for them.

It better be, because they sure as hell don't get much gratitude.

I know we're getting to be a more violent and crass culture, but do we really need to start roughing up trained lifesavers?

I worry that, sooner or later, certain areas will simply be declared as "too dangerous" and EMTs will start refusing to respond to calls from there.

And I don't think I could bring myself to blame them.


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Comments (8)

That's already occurred in ... (Below threshold)

That's already occurred in Detroit, with the usual calls of "racism" rather than considering that EMTs don't like getting shot at.

You're totally right Jay. ... (Below threshold)

You're totally right Jay. This type of thing will really take off once racial profiling becomes more wide-spread in the states.

I'm all for racial profiling, but some of the side-effects will be really bad.

When I first started in EMS... (Below threshold)

When I first started in EMS ten years ago, it was already a problem ... and in small, rural Tennessee cities and towns. The largest city I ever worked in was Knoxville, TN and it was a dangerous thing to enter the housing projects without police back-up. We would most often "stage" a couple blocks away, going in only when the LEOs had secured the scene. But still, we were at risk. It even followed us out of the 'hood ... I was nearly shot while standing in the ambulance bay at the ER. We had brought in a victim of gang violence ... the folks that wanted him dead got pissed that we saved his life and came after us in revenge.

All this fun for an average annual salary of $32,000 for medics, half that for EMTs. And we haven't even talked about disease exposure and other injuries inherent in this business.

I miss the work, but I am much safer here driving a desk now ...

It's well within any EMT/EM... (Below threshold)

It's well within any EMT/EMT-Ps rights to not enter an area until the scene is safe. Back when I was runnning as a MICU we often would hold up until PD was on scene and declared it safe. Some incidents are not avoidable, as situations are always dynamic, and the "safe" can become "unsafe" in a heartbeat. I'd always have the EMT putting on restraints as I was getting Narcan ready, because once they woke up they'd be mad-as-hell for you're having ruined their high.

That being said, dead/injured medics don't deliver much care. The supervisors need to make sure they are giving more than lip-service" to the "Is the Scene Safe?" question, and allowing the responders to exercise their judgement without being pressured.

Medics pay is terrible, considering the responsibility, and EMTs is even worse. No wonder burn out is only about 4 years in many urban areas...

Next time you see an EMT or Medic, say thanks :)

This reminds me a bit of th... (Below threshold)

This reminds me a bit of the problems cabbies face when they are forced by city laws to take fares from bad neighborhoods, who then attack or hold them up.

As a volunteer EMT in Israe... (Below threshold)
Jameel Rashid:

As a volunteer EMT in Israel, by law we have to go to all neighborhoods. I can tell you, we routinely have to go to Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem, and its not uncommon to have rocks and bottles thrown at us, while we're trying to save the lives of some Israeli Arab patient. In fact, MDA (Magen David Adom - Red Star of David, Israel's national EMS) protocol states (much to my horror) that if a terrorist is wounded more badly than some of his/her victims, we must treat the terrorist first.

The only thing to add, is the hypoxia (reduction of Oxygen to the brain) can often cause people to have wild reactions -- hitting/punching those that are trying to save them, and its a totally unconcious reaction. (not their fault).

Take my advice - you want to be an EMT; carry a Glock.

I dropped my EMT cert. afte... (Below threshold)

I dropped my EMT cert. after 8 years for some of the same reasons posted on here. It's not even safe when the police officers arrive. Too many druggies are out there. We have had three police officers shot at in the past month (thank goodness for bad shots) , and this a a rural county. I was a totally volunteer (no pay on call, no pay at all) and it's not worth the risk when even those that consider themselves 'normal' never so much as thank you for cleaning up some of the bloody messes thay make, and picking up the stinking bodies (some dead for days or weeks) of their family members. I'll just stay a volunteer Firefighter, if they want to fight, back off and let the house burn around them. I was really there to try and help the people but so many are too stupid to realize that.

I try to tell our trainess,... (Below threshold)

I try to tell our trainess, as well, that just because the police think the scene is safe, doesn't mean that it's safe for EMT's. Some of my worst experiences were with cops present.

Locally, paid EMT's start at around $8.50 an hour, and paramedics at around $9.50. You can make more at McDonalds in some cases. I've been puked on, pissed on, shit on, spit on, asked for a blow job, punched, kicked. I have picked the same patient up repeatedly, only to see them out of the emergency department before my paperwork is done. You live for the one patient in a dozen who says thank you, or takes the time to write a nice note to the boss. And the kids, they make it worthwhile, too.






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