No doubt, my biggest pet peeve in EMS is the taxi runs we do. It has been on my mind a lot lately, between the Men's Health article, and some issues we are having at the firehouse. Go to any state in this great union, to any firehouse, and any medic can give you ten examples in the last year of such runs. Why is this such a problem? Ask any child: When do you call for an ambulance? Most likely they will answer: When there is an emergency. Yet, the parents of those kids call for some extremely stupid reasons. If 7-year-olds can figure it out, why not 30-year-olds?
We see abuse of EMS from all walks of life, regardless of race or socio-economic class. Regardless of insurance status. Even regardless of transportation status, and by that I mean the patient is completely ambulatory, stable, not a damn thing wrong, and six family members all with cars are home and able to drive.Over the last few years I have heard many excuses as to why the ambulance was called.
-Going by ambulance will get me seen faster (not true, not true)
-I don't have insurance (this ride isn't free)
-I don't have any other way to get there (OK, I can kind of see that)
-I don't have a regular doctor (huh?)
-Because I want pain meds (I don't think so)
-Because I wanted to (can't argue with that logic)
I have transported stubbed toes, hurt pinkies, and fevers of 99 degrees. I have also transported a 22-year-old who drank one beer and the parents freaked out, a scratched knuckle, and someone who needed inner reflection. I am sure all of you reading have similar stories. I even had a chronic caller, 3 times a day from the same pay phone. He would call and say he was dizzy and he needed to go to the hospital. 3 times a day. I would think that would be an abuse of 911, punishable by law, but PD told us there was nothing they could do. Once, when we were with him, a 3-year-old girl was hit by a car in our district. She had to wait 5 minutes longer for help to arrive. When we explained this to him, his reply was "Oh well. When I call, you have to come." I had no response to that. He had me there.
We educate the public on fire prevention. We educate the public on fire safety. We educate elementary students on E.D.I.T.H., stop, drop, and roll, and stay low and go. We educate on everything fire related. Thanks to all of this public education, fires are down. What about EMS? EMS makes up 85% of FD calls (depending where you live). Why do we not educate on EMS? Sure, we put on CPR and AED classes. But why is it so taboo for us to educate on what is an emergency? When it's OK to use an ambulance? There has to be a solution to this problem. Unfortunately I don't see it coming anytime soon.
2 years ago