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EMS News in Focus
by Arthur Hsieh

Never let your guard down

Performing our job is difficult enough without the added fear of being assaulted

By Arthur Hsieh

Editor's note: Robert Lee, a safari guide, conservationist and outfitter, was sentenced for grabbing the breast of a paramedic who accompanied him on a medical flight to the Mayo Clinic in September 2010.

In some evil, delightful way I found it a bit satisfying to see the proverbial book thrown at the defendant. Performing our job is difficult enough without the added fear of being assaulted.

In this case the patient crossed over that barrier and purposefully harassed the EMS crew as they tried to perform their duties. Totally unacceptable!

The case does serve as a strong reminder to never let your guard down, even when providing compassionate care.

Years ago I was assessing an elderly female patient in the back of the unit when she experienced sudden ventricular fibrillation. I spotted it literally on the monitor as we were talking; I reached over and provided a precordial thump over her chest.

That did two things: first, she converted back into a perusing rhythm. Second, she wound up and knocked me with a roundhouse punch to the face. As the pretty little blue birds flew around my head I could hear her yelling at me, asking why I punched her in the chest. It took a bit of convincing to calm her down that it was a "medical" procedure.

Regardless, our patients are human, just like we are. The vast majority are in some need and appreciate our assistance when called upon. For others, not so much....and we need be mindful of that fact.

About the author

EMS1 Editorial Advisor Art Hsieh, MA, NREMT-P currently teaches at the Public Safety Training Center, Santa Rosa Junior College in the Emergency Care Program. Since 1982, Art has worked as a line medic and chief officer in the private, third service and fire-based EMS. He has directed both primary and EMS continuing education programs. Art is a textbook author, has presented at conferences nationwide, and continues to provide patient care at an EMS service in Northern California. Contact Art at
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