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Home > Topics > EMS Advocacy
July 10, 2014
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The Ambulance Driver's Perspective
by Kelly Grayson

Top 10 punchlines to EMS T-shirt slogans

Those cliché, ignorant and misguided T-shirt slogans are better with a healthy dose of reality; just don't expect to find them in your Facebook news feed

By Kelly Grayson

If you frequent any of the various EMS Facebook pages, you know they represent a sort of virtual EMS squadron where we can all gather to gripe, commiserate, share stories, educate each other — and leave the occasional layperson who wanders by a public page aghast at the behavior of emergency medical professionals.

Some pages are devoted to education and advocacy, and many a stimulating discussion can be found in comment threads therein. I love those pages.

But I'm ashamed to admit that I occasionally read some of the other, less highbrow pages. Most of them are like the EMS version of People of Wal-Mart; a way for us to feel smugly superior to the rest of our EMS colleagues.

That is, if you can get past the feeling of utter despair for the future of EMS. Reading comments on those pages is a lot like watching "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo." You know you should change the channel, you can feel your IQ dropping with every passing second, but you just can't turn away from the spectacle.

You feel sort of dirty afterwards, enough so that you're tempted to pull up Medline and read something — anything — of medical research, just to reassure yourself that you're not one of those monosynaptic cretins whose online poo-flinging you just witnessed. 

But the one thing all these pages have in common is T-shirts. It seems that, for every three posts, each page has an ad for some T-shirt they're selling with an EMS cliché emblazoned across the front. For some, it's a slog wading through the ads just to find some actual content. Frankly, it's tiresome.

So I got to thinking, how much more entertaining would it be if the shirts actually displayed a little honesty, rather than catering to the literary tastes of the low-information voters of health care?

With that in mind, I give you the top 10 unwritten EMS T-shirt punchlines. Enjoy.

Doing the same thing as doctors, but at 80 mph — only, you know, with 1/10 the education. And with no real understanding of why. And only under rigidly defined guidelines and protocols written by, well … doctors. But yeah, other than that, we're pretty much the same. We rock!

Keep calm and drive the boo-boo bus — because nothing says, "I am a critical-thinking problem solver" like stealing a lame slogan from The Chive and giving it an even more lame EMS twist.

Drive safely, or I get to see you naked — but only if you're really hot. Because if you're 25, female, and attractive, I'll find an excuse to cut your clothes off even if you only have a bloody nose. But if you're fat, old, unattractive, or the same sex, you could have a compound fracture, a bazooka and the partially absorbed skeleton of your unborn twin hidden under those polyester pants, but I ain't lookin' — because I'm professional like that.

You can't fix stupid, but you can sedate it — unless it's your partner or your supervisor. That kind of stupid, you have to endure, because they're the kind of people to ask uncomfortable questions about inappropriate use of narcotics.

If it's wet and sticky and not yours, don't touch it — even though touching wet, sticky things that don't belong to us is pretty much our job description, or the TSA's, whichever.

Racing the reaper — because nothing warms the heart of an adrenaline junkie like causing five traffic accidents running code 3 to a fall at the nursing home. Besides, "racing the reaper" has a much better ring than "Boy, if we hadn't gotten here sometime this week, you might really have been in a pickle!"

Forget the ambulance, ride the EMT — because let's face it, my medic partner treats me like I'm a pack animal anyway, and it's not like I get much exercise at work.

Support EMS: Run with scissors — well, if you're a layperson. Paramedics may carry scissors, but paramedics never run. We mosey.

EMS: Trained to save your ass, not kiss it — because nothing says, "I are an emergency perfeshunul" like a profane cliché that emphasizes 1 percent of our calls and ignores the customer service necessary for the other 99 percent.

Which brings us to …

This is why we can’t have nice things — Um, yeah, I got nothin'. That pretty much explains one through nine, right there. I'm sure there are better and more lyrical ways to advocate for the EMS profession, but few of them lend themselves readily to a cool shirt-shirt slogan.

Or do they? Got ideas for a great EMS shirt-shirt slogan that are a cut above the norm? Share 'em in the 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 (www.facebook.com/theambulancedriverfiles), or email him at kelly.grayson@ems1.com.

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