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EMS Education Tips

Everyday EMS
by Greg Friese

Team Lifting Commands

"Do we go on 'three' or 'one, two, three,' and then go?" is dialogue made famous by Danny Glover and Mel Gibson in the "Lethal Weapon" movie franchise. How many EMT lifting injuries have been caused by confusion about lifting on three versus one, two, three, and then lift?

Solve the lifting conundrum by having the rescuer at the patient’s head give these specific directions:

• "We will lift when I say, 'Lift.'"

• "We will stop lifting when I say, 'Stop.'"

• "We will move in that specific direction when I say, 'Move.'"

• "We will stop moving when I say, 'Stop.'"

• "We will lower when I say, 'Lower.'"

Before the actual lift occurs, the lead rescuer asks one final question, "Is anybody NOT ready?" It is more important to hear if a team member is not ready than to hear if everyone is ready.

Practice these team lifting commands at your next training session before using with patients.

About the author

Greg Friese is Editor-in-Chief of He is an educator, author, paramedic, and marathon runner. Ask questions or submit tip ideas to Greg by e-mailing him at
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