15 EMT’s Share the Bad Emergency Medical Advice They Wish People Would Stop Following

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Every career probably has pet peeves like these – misconceptions you know to be patently false but that are nonetheless accepted by most laypeople as being fact. That said, getting your taxes wrong isn’t going to cost someone their life (most likely), so you might want to listen closely to the advice these 15 EMT’s say you definitely should not take.

#15. If someone is having a seizure…

“If someones having a seizure you dont shove something into their mouth or try and hold them down. Thanks for that lie Hollywood, now a good portion of the population does the wrong thing when someones having a seizure.”

#14. Until they’re down.

“I’m just an EMT student, but we learned that kids are not smaller adults, they’re like entirely different organisms. And when they are experiencing difficulty breathing, they cliffdive. Their bodies will compensate, compensate, compensa-oof they’re on the floor in respiratory arrest. Adults will circle the drain, you’ll see them steadily go from “i’m having trouble breathing” “i’m really having a hard time” “i dont…i dont feel so good” “huhhhhhhhhhh” and THEN they’ll pass out. Kids are good until they’re down.”

#13. Not all hospitals are equal.

“Don’t argue about what hospital we say we should take you or your family member to. Not all hospitals are equal. Some are better for trauma, stroke, heart attacks, psych, etc. If it doesn’t matter I’ll ask if there is a hospital preference.”

#12. You’re more like a liability right now.

“If we take our time on scene it’s because we need to make more tests or we are actively treating the problem. No need to ask “omg why are you still here just take her and go”. There’s actually quite a lot we can do ourselves, at home, that’s the same as in the ER.

Defibrillation stops the heart in the hopes it starts again normally. You can’t shock someone back to life. If the machine says “no shock advised, start CPR”, just pump the chest until EMS arrives, the machine is working fine and in this case giving a shock to the patient would not work.

Hitting the chest dead center like in the movies is called a Precordial Thump, you give it once. It may work in specific circumstances in the immediate seconds after that circumstance happens. Just do CPR, plug the AED if available, forget what happens in the movies.

I don’t care if you’re an RN, MD, ABCXYZ. I got no way to check your credentials and you’re more like a liability right now. I absolutely love when medical professionals are there to provide useful and pertinent info, though. Information is always welcome, busybodies are not.

Can’t shock a flatline. See my second point.

Take a CPR class people, you’ll be able to ask all your questions to an instructor and you’ll learn lots of useful stuff.

When in doubt, call 911.”

#11. Literally killing people.

“If ribs crunch during CPR you’ve pressed too hard and broken some ribs.

Nope, in some people you need to get passed them to pump the heart.

The myth of don’t do it too hard or you’ll give chest trauma is literally killing people. Well they’re already dead, but softy gentle hands made sure they stayed that way.

CPR is brutal. But you are trying to save a life. Don’t fuck around.

To completely contradict myself as we often do do… bad CPR is better than no CPR.”

#10. A lot more harm than good.

“Someone drank or ate a poison/chemical – please don’t make them vomit it back up unless the substance is identified and a medical professional has specifically advised it. Can do a lot more harm than good.

People who have fallen or been in a car accident generally don’t need moving at all unless they are in absolute immediate danger. Same for removing helmets – if they can breathe ok then leave them where they are and keep an eye on them.

AEDs are super easy to use. They tell you exactly what needs to be done, and will only shock the patient if they need it – never be afraid to try one if someone is not breathing.

NEVER, ever remove an object from a wound – be it a knife, stick, pole, whatever – leave it in place! Pulling it out can get them killed very quickly. If they’re impaled upon an object don’t take them off – get objects and people to support their body weight until rescue arrives to cut the object.”

#9. Pulling to the left is unsafe.

“If an ambulance is lights and sirens behind you, pull over to the RIGHT when safe and STOP as close to the right side as possible.
I don’t care if you’re intending to make a left turn in a block, pulling to the left is unsafe. You’re putting us into a very difficult position deciding whether to sit behind you til you figure it out, unsafely pass you on the right, or go into the oncoming lane.
And for the love of god do not slam on the breaks in the middle of the road. How can you think that’s a good idea? Why are you panicking? This can’t possibly be the most stressful situation you’ve ever been in.”

#8. We don’t care what you are on.

“Only a student but with my expirance there’s two major things:

1: Drugs. We don’t care what you are on. If you are cooperative and aren’t aggressive there’s no need to get the police involved. But if you get defensive and try to arc up when we ask you to move your drugs to a different area so we can work that’s how you get the police involved and have to make your friend wait for medical attention.

2: Clarification. (This isn’t quite what you asked but it still needs to be said) Drugs are crazy things, both medical and recreational. If you are on either you need to tell us, emphasis on medical. Because if I ask you what you are taking at the moment it’s so they any other drugs I give you don’t make you blood pressure drop and make you drop along side of it. I need to know what medication you take and what other medical conditions you have and the quicker and easier you are able to explain that to me the quicker I can fix you and we can all go home.

Edit: Sorry for weird format, I’m on mobile.”

#7. Okay John Travolta.

“Someone who overdoes does not need a shot of adrenaline to the heart.

Had a guy yell and curse at me when his brother OD’d to give him an adrenaline shot. Okay John Travolta.”

#6. Listen to people.

“Several of these that come to mind:

One that hasn’t been said yet: listen to people. People with chronic conditions know what’s going on and can help you help themselves. I once had a patient with anxiety and asthma. She felt her anxiety building at her desk and mentioned it her co-worker/friend so that person could help her to an empty office to allow her to calm down. That person called 911 and alerted other co-workers which triggered 10 people to want to help. The Patient repeatedly told her co-workers to stop crowding her because her anxiety triggers her asthma. Simply listening to her could have saved her several breathing treatments and a trip to the hospital.
Not an “Emergency” but people still using rubbing alcohol or peroxides on minor cuts or scrapes. It’s been shown they can slow healing. A cut or scrape just needs to be washed thoroughly with a mild soap and water then bandaged. More contaminated wounds (gnarly road-rash) can be irrigated with clean water/iodine solution with about a Nalege’s worth of water.
Splashing or dumping water onto a person that is unconcious or “passed out.” Skin color/temperature/moisture can tell alot about a patient and having them covered in water can cause us to think differently about their etiology.
Some bystanders are scared or apprehensive about helping someone in cardiac arrest. You can help someone by doing early compressions. Most 911 operators now can instruct people on how to do compression only CPR until we arrive.”

#5. We need to know.

“Do. Not. Lie. To. Us.

We do not have to and can not report to the police outside of very specific circumstances. We need to know if you were drinking. We need to know what drugs you were using. Gentlemen, we NEED to know if you are on erectile dysfunction medication. We ask these questions so we don’t do something that will kill you!

Also. Narcan. It is a wonderful, life saving drug. That being said, you will likely need more than one dose, don’t just give narcan call it good and leave someone who is overdosing. Keep in mind though it’s a double edged sword. If your person overdosing comes to there’s a good chance they’re going to be pissed and often times they get violent because all they really know is you ruined what was probably the best high of their life.”

#4. On essential oils…

“Essential Oils don’t cure Jack shit.”

#3. Until they can get better care.

“CPR is to try to keep the victim alive until they can get to better care. It’s rarely successful. One of my buddies who is an EMT says of all the people he’s done CPR on, only 2 have walked out of the hospital. The rest died or became some form of vegetable.”

#2. Seriously. You’re going to drown them.

“This one’s for you, college students!


Seriously. You’re going to drown them.

You can worry about their hangover AFTER we’re sure they’re not about to sustain permanent brain damage or asphyxiate on their own puke.

As a rule of thumb, if they can’t drink on their own, it isn’t safe for you to do it for them.”

#1. Please stop.

“Please stop doing CPR on people who have fainted, it does nothing but create problems.

Also, not dangerous but please don’t call me nurse, and please don’t call my male crew mate doctor. I literally have Paramedic written on each shoulder.”

The more you know!