EMS God, I think there are two and I have named them.

To those of us in EMS that respect the EMS Gods and would never utter the words, “it’s been a pretty quiet shift”, ten minutes before our shift ends, I have named the EMS Gods. I think there are two of them and I will explain why.


The first is who I call Chaos. 


He’s a sneaky one, but we have probably all danced with him in the back of our ambulance. Who among us hasn’t dealt with him as our ECG monitor suddenly becomes a magnet for all artifact in a quarter mile radius? How many of us have not seen our perfectly established IV ripped out by an unsuspecting partner? Come to think of it Chaos probably employs many of our partners, this theory would explain so much. 


Chaos doesn’t just work in our ambulance, he also works against us prior to us arriving at the emergency. Sometimes he works by making a person suddenly allergic to something he’s eaten his entire life. A peanut butter sandwich suddenly sends a patient into anaphylactic shock, even though he has worked at a deli for the past 5 years and eats it on a regular basis. Oh and just for a few extra giggles the call is actually dispatched as a seizure, on the third floor of an apartment (did you catch that? I started by telling you it’s in a deli). I can’t totally blame Chaos for messing up my dispatcher on that call, the police were involved also. (You see what I did there, Chaos works through police just as much as he works through dispatchers). 


Chaos can be evil though, don’t ever give him an inch. (I’m using “him” for Chaos very loosely, as you will see the other God is much more feminine). 


I have seen Chaos kill random pedestrians and bicyclists. I have seen Chaos poison people and cause a simple stumble by a person walking down their stairs turn into an open femur fracture (yeah that call came in as “fall injury” with no indication I was about to walk in on a trapped, bleeding and very angry patient). 


Chaos is the whimsical and occasionally sadistic God of EMS.


Consequence, now here is a God that takes very little pity on any of us. Consequence walks among us and spares us of many things, but he remembers. Consequence makes us need that one item, in a list of a couple hundred, that we didn’t make sure of during our unit check off. And of course it’s no where to be found during the emergency where it’s needed the most. Consequence watches us eat the food we eat and skip the exercise we shouldn’t skip and then hits us with diseases we shouldn’t have. 


Consequence is the “I told you so” God of EMS (remember what I said about this God being more feminine? Who’s better at the “I told you so’s” than women? Ask any married guy and he’ll tell you no guy can stand a chance against a woman who has just proven you wrong. Which is why I rarely let it happen. 🙂


Consequence works through our patient’s and many times will give us a glimpse of what we can try to avoid. Too many times we ignore it. (I’m looking at all you heavy drinkers who transport someone with cirrhosis of the liver and don’t stop to think where they might have gotten it, smokers who transport COPD patients in respiratory failure, diabetics who eat two burgers for lunch after transporting a patient with BKA home, hypertensives who forget their pills after running with lights and siren to the nearest stroke center with a patient who can’t move their right side….I could go on forever.)


Chaos and Consequence. Can any call not be placed in one or the other’s ballpark? 


Chaos and Consequence. When we make a mistake is it not one or the other? Most of the time when we have a complication on a call isn’t it a Consequence for an action we did or didn’t do? Can’t remember the dosage? Shouldn’t we have looked at that protocol instead of playing that game on our phone during our downtime? 


Chaos and Consequence. Respect them, our EMS Gods, prepare for them. Never fear them. For when we get called out during the longest ten minutes of our shift as we are looking out hoping to see our relief there early, and we cringe because it’s just another “fall”, maybe it’s just Chaos and Consequence wanting a little dance.

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