5 conversations you should avoid starting with a paramedic
These conversations are mostly one-sided and you'll regret getting them started
By Sean Eddy
Paramedics are an interesting breed when it comes to conversation.
The fresh, hot-off-the-card-factory-press medics want to talk about their new lifesaving skills with anyone that will listen. On the other side of the coin, the dinosaurs typically like to pretend they do something else like welding or driving a paper delivery route.
Despite the differences, there are a handful of trigger points that are bound to get any paramedic talking. The problem is, these conversations are mostly one-sided and you'll regret getting them started.
Here are five conversations that you should avoid starting with a paramedic:
1. “I bet you guys see a bunch of crazy things.”
Despite what you might think, we aren't about to share a bunch of real cool “war stories.” We're about to destroy your fairytale view of society. The conversation will mostly start with an attempt to dismiss the idea with something vague like: “No, that‘s only on TV shows. It's nothing like that in real life.” Make no mistake, the conversation isn't over. We're about to go on and on about the ridiculous things that people call 911 for, the horrible living conditions that we see and the stupid things that people do to each other.
2. “I bet you guys make good money.”
Do not ... I repeat ... DO NOT open this can of worms. Most of us are going to tell you one of those “I have to walk uphill, in the snow, both ways” kind of stories. Only worse, we're going to tell you about how we live in an abandoned shack with no running water and how we have to spend our free time going between holding a cardboard sign and working as a stripper just to pay for lunch.
3. “Are you going to school to be a (doctor, nurse, male stripper, etc)?”
This may seem like a logical question, especially if you engaged in a conversation concerning wages. But don't be fooled. This will immediately trigger a defensive response that you'll regret. We're going to tell you about how this is our calling and how we do everything the nurses and doctors do, only at 173 mph down a one-lane residential street that's under construction. We'll also go on to tell you about we are the only thing that stands between society and the grim reaper, despite what we told you during the first mentioned conversation.
4. “Do paramedics really need to intubate?”
This is literally the Holy Grail of of EMS. Without it, we are powerless. We are nothing more than underpaid cot pushing, ambulance drivers. To suggest that we do anything BUT intubate at the slightest sign of increased respiratory effort is essentially telling us that we don‘t need to exist. Starting this conversation will activate Defcon 1 and make us go thermonuclear.
5. “What's the worst thing you've ever seen?”
This is one of things that you don't actually want the answer to. You might think you do, but you'll wish you hadn't asked if we decide to be honest with you. If you're lucky, we‘ll make up some story about how a bus full of hemophiliacs drove off a cliff and landed on a razor blade factory. If we're honest, you'll spend the next week losing sleep and wondering how we haven't turned homicidal yet.
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