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Top Ten Paramedic Subtitles News

February 03, 2010

The Ambulance Driver's Perspective
by Kelly Grayson

Top Ten Paramedic Subtitles

By Kelly Grayson

It is a widely accepted truism in EMS that, when dealing with patients, bystanders or supervisors, if it felt good to say something, then it was probably the wrong thing to say.

And I'm here to tell you, early in my EMS career I said a lot of things that felt really good, which probably explains why it took me quite a while to ascend beyond supervisor on the career ladder.

With age and experience, though, I learned not only how to choose my words more carefully, but how to translate the words of other paramedics into what they really mean. If EMS calls came with subtitles, chances are they'd read something like these:

"So what changed about your condition that led you to call 911?"

Specifically, what made it such an emergency at 3:00 am that you or your homeys couldn't drive you to the Emergency Department? Honestly, if you've been worried about this growth on your behind for a month, why didn't you get it looked at before now? Were you waiting for it to gain sentience or something?

"You're going to feel a little stick."

"Stick" being roughly equivalent to having your scrotum pierced with a rusty railroad spike. But if you promise not to scream too loudly, I'll ask the nurses to pull the sheets out of your behind once we arrive at the hospital.

"I'm just doing my job, Sir. I can't treat what I can't see."

And since you've been so charming, what with the speculation about my ancestry and the threats to kick my butt, I'm going to expose your feet by cutting off your brand-new ostrich skin boots.

"We'll take that long distance transfer, Dispatch."

Because if we milk it enough, we can make that one call last the entire shift. What's the minimum speed on the Interstate again?

"Of course you did the right thing by calling 911!"

Much to my regret, the bleeding from that wart you decided to remove with a pair of nail clippers will not prove fatal. And once I'm back at my station, I'm going to use the bloodstained 4x4 I used on you to fashion a voodoo doll in your likeness. And I'll end every shift by giggling like a fiend as I stab that doll right in its non-emergent, warty little toe.

"We got a save last shift!"

Much like a houseplant, they turn him toward the sun and water him every two hours at the nursing home.

"Your husband may be having a mild heart attack."

The last guy I saw with an EKG like that is now eating his salads from the roots up.

"Hand me an 18."

I'm only inserting a saline lock to keep the ER nurses happy, but I'm embarrassed to even document a 20-gauge.

"[Insert minor complaint here] is nothing to fool with, Ma'am. I've seen it go bad before the victim could make it to the hospital. Better safe than sorry, I always say."

Management has been on our case about excessive refusals, and my performance review is coming up. If I don't lower my refusal rate by at least five percentage points, no merit raise this year.

"Relax, I've done this a thousand times."

On manikins.


Got any paramedic subtitles of your own? Chime in with your comments!

About the author

Kelly Grayson, NREMT-P, CCEMT-P, is a critical care paramedic in Louisiana. He has spent the past 18 years as a field paramedic, critical care transport paramedic, field supervisor and educator. He is a former president of the Louisiana EMS Instructor Society and board member of the LA Association of Nationally Registered EMTs.

He is a frequent EMS conference speaker and contributor to various EMS training texts, and is the author of the popular blog A Day In the Life of an Ambulance Driver. The paperback version of Kelly's book is available at booksellers nationwide. You can follow him on Twitter (@AmboDriver) or Facebook (, or email him at

The comments below are member-generated and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of or its staff. If you cannot see comments, try disabling privacy and ad blocking plugins in your browser. All comments must comply with our Member Commenting Policy.
Morgan Young Morgan Young Saturday, February 25, 2012 5:39:27 PM I am still lauging.
Andaew Lau Andaew Lau Saturday, February 25, 2012 5:55:08 PM Another Classic from Kelly.
Amanda Zimmerman Amanda Zimmerman Saturday, February 25, 2012 6:12:28 PM Im a huge fan of #1
Christian Jackson-Puglisi Christian Jackson-Puglisi Saturday, February 25, 2012 9:08:41 PM Great. Is it bad when the basics think this too.
Gary Howard Gary Howard Saturday, February 25, 2012 9:13:12 PM Load If you have never used one of those ststements, you are not a true medic.
Will Iam Will Iam Saturday, February 25, 2012 9:25:05 PM An expansion on number one, "I'm a trained professional ma'am, trust me on this..."
Nathan Morin Nathan Morin Sunday, February 26, 2012 4:56:06 AM # 4 deffinitely my favorite.
Brian Haggerty Brian Haggerty Sunday, February 26, 2012 5:21:04 AM Sir, I'm sorry you seem to be suffering from Dementia. 911 is not the number for a taxi to the hospital. Let me write their number down for you.
Nikki Kitchens Moore Nikki Kitchens Moore Sunday, February 26, 2012 7:07:00 AM Haha.. Truth!
Joel Max Hanks Jr. Joel Max Hanks Jr. Sunday, February 26, 2012 9:22:42 AM You: what kind of medical history does he have? Nursing home nurse: I dont know, i just came on shift/I've been on vacation/i just started here two weeks ago/the pt just got here two weeks ago/he isnt' normally my pt. You: Ok thanks for his paperwork. "What do you mean you know nothing about this guy? His life could literally hang in the balance! I want you to do me a favor, stop complaining about answering the pts call light, and actually pay attention to what they are saying to you. And next time you call us, read the pts chart before we show up, that way you can at least sound like you know what your talking about. Thank You, have a nice day.
Van Ulrich Van Ulrich Monday, February 27, 2012 3:36:09 AM I've heard a number of these via two of my sons.
Mel Maguire Mel Maguire Wednesday, February 29, 2012 12:54:26 PM "So, you're having a little trouble breathing? Here, let me put this on your finger...we'll just have the officer handcuff your hands in front for this..." Dude, you are not the first genius to suddenly develop an allergy to stainless steel. The least you could do is make it interesting.
Christina Molander Pasterz Christina Molander Pasterz Wednesday, February 29, 2012 12:57:02 PM Oh the stories and good laughs from working in the field of Police/Fire/EMS/or ER....just can't make this stuff up!!!!

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