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Home > Topics > Medical / Clinical
February 15, 2011
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EMS News in Focus
by Arthur Hsieh

Why EMS professionals have job security

By Arthur Hsieh

Editor's note: 'Bath Salts' refers to little packets of chemicals containing a substance that is not approved for medical use in the U.S. Yet, EMS agencies have received almost 120 calls regarding the use of the product this year alone. Editorial Advisor Art Hsieh says the use of synthetic drugs serves as a not-so pleasant reminder that responders have a bit of job security.

Bath salts? Really? When I read this article, I immediately thought that I'd just head over to my tub, pour in some bath salts, run some hot water, and snort some salt crystals while waiting for the tub to fill. Now, that's my idea of a fun Saturday night!

So, of course I was wrong. "Bath Salts" refers to little packets of chemicals containing Methylenedioxypyrovalerone, or MPDV, a chemical that is not approved for medical use in the United States. It is sold over the internet under trade names like "Ivory wave", "Blue Silk" and "Cloud Nine."

While the packets are marked as not fit for human consumption, it has been snorted, smoked, injected and even eaten to produce a stimulant-based high.

According to the American Associations of Poison Control Centers, there has been at least 117 calls regarding the use of the product this year already, compared to 234 calls for all of 2010. Several states have already enacted emergency bans, with more to follow suit.

This along with this story on synthetic marijuana serves as a not-so-pleasant reminder that we enjoy a certain degree of job security. So long as we humans try our best to hurt ourselves for the sake of having a good time, EMS will play its role in managing the effects of such behavior.

Unfortunately for us, some of this will require the management of potentially violent, out of control patients who can hurt us as well. Be forewarned and vigilant as you approach cases like these; I'd appreciate it if you go home safe and sound.

About the author

EMS1 Editor in Chief 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 Art.Hsieh@ems1.com.
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