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The most hated question.


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I can't say that the question bothers me. Generally there is no malice behind it. It is just people trying to understand something they don't. I think they also try to get a sense of the kind of person it is that does this sort of thing.

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The problem is : : :

Normal folks don't have a clue what we really do on an average day.

They only see the tv news or shows where everyone lives with a little CPR or oxygen.

I tend to be bad when asked " THE Question "

They don't get to see the calls that become our nightmares.

the traumatic senseless deaths,

The young children abused, by those trusted to care for them

The young teen who drove into the bridge abutment,killing himself and 5 others & scattering body parts all over the highway

the 14 year old girl who hemorrhaged to death in the basement of a tenement while giving birth to a baby fathered by her father.

the middle aged guy who was diagnosed with cancer & stuck a 12 ga in his throat and pulled both triggers,

the little 3 yr old daughter of a friend who was warming herself by the woodstove early one winter morning, when her night gown burst into flames and melted into her skin, the hours of listening to her scream after all the morphine we had wouldn't/ couldn't stop the pain. even though she had enough onboard to kill a horse.

There you want some of my nightmares ??

I've got many more you moron, cubicle rat

Go ahead and ask away my uninformed friend

edit for spelling

Edited by island emt
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I get asked this question and I try to focus more on the good of our jobs. Sure I remember the bad stuff I've seen, but I really try not to spoil their image of EMS. I tell them of the babies I've delivered, of the families I've helped, and of the differences I've made. I really try not to think of the bad stuff. Every once and a while I get nightmares about a call or a decision I had made at work or on a call, but they don't haunt me like described.

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I tend to agree with ERDoc. Many of us have likely asked apparently "stupid" questions about what other people do. It's often not malicious but out of genuine interest and curiosity. (IMHO) the problem with answering is that many of the most impactful situations for me would be hard to describe because it was the emotional resonance or existential components that made me reevaluate my thoughts and beliefs, not the actual "visual" or "auditory" component of the situation that left its mark. In other words, sometimes the more apparently "mundane" situations had more impact because they resonated with me on a deep emotional or intellectual level. This can be hard to properly describe.

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I would have to say that 9 times out of 10 it is someone looking for the gore factor than it is someone actually interested in getting to know what my career is actually like. Perhaps it's how they word the question. "What's the worst call you've been on." Rather than "What's the grossest thing you've ever seen." Either way, I don't let them into that part of my brain.

The worst call I've been on? The 2 year old girl who died in her sleep on Christmas night.

The grossest call I've been on? The hoarder's house with rotten food on top of stacks of old newspapers.

I won't give them the satisfaction of being told about the blood and gore.

The friend who self immolated and I didn't even know who he was until late in the call.

Doing CPR on my high school crush after she was ejected from the car rollover we were both involved in. (I also had a broken Right humerus, scapula, and clavicle.) Then having some bastard ask me what it felt like to kiss her. (because I had to do mouth to mouth)

Taking my father in for a subdural bleed after he fell and he didn't even know who I was.

There are so many....If I really get started I just don't know if or when I'd be able to stop myself.

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Sometimes it can be turned into a teaching moment where you can educate the layperson. We've all seen some shit but I think I have gotten to the point where it doesn't bother me much anymore. We don't see the ones that don't make it off the scene but in 10 years in the field I've seen my fair share of memorable scenes. I share the stories but leave out the ending. I make them ask about the ending. There is always hope that something good has happened and as we all know, those cases never have a happy ending. It lets them feel some of the let down that we feel when we take care of these pts. It invariably leads to them asking about the next case. After the first 2 or 3 cases, all of which end in death, they ask something like, "Wow, do you guys ever save anyone? It seems like on TV they save everybody." That's when you let them in on the reality of how life is nothing like TV and how dismal our ability to save people really is. I think it really lets the message set in.

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When they ask me I always tell a funny story about a 90 year old man who groped me, or a 70 year old couple who smoked weed, drank wine, sat in a hot tub, and used a medication they got in Mexico called Kumagra(no I didn't make that up, they handed me the greasy package-ew).

The funny stories are the only ones I'm comfortable telling because the others are ones I would rather forget about than continue to relive. Once you get people laughing they tend to forget that I am not exactly answering the question they asked.

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I have grown to embrace this question.

I have a standard answer these days: Worst thing I've ever seen was an electrical burn to a man's foot. Yeah.... it's not gory..... but I have a huge foot phobia! Seriously! I can't even touch my own!.

That usually gets them laughing..... Then I change the tone and end the conversation with one sentence.

*Honestly, if I told you the worst thing I have ever seen, you would not sleep for a week..... Just squeeze your kids tight everyday.

It gets me out of an uncomfortable situation, and at the same time makes them realize that we are not just ambulance drivers picking up stubbed toes. We do have to deal with real tragedy and carry that burden for others.

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