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What are the biggest misconceptions about paramedics?

This is for all you 'ambulance drivers' out there

A question posted recently on Quora asked “What are the biggest misconceptions about paramedics"? Former paramedic Anderson Moorer gave his opinion on the topic. Read his response, and add your own to the comments.

By Anderson Moorer, EMS1 Contributor

The most common is mistaking a paramedic for an "Ambulance Driver." Paramedics receive a tremendous amount of training, from specialist medical knowledge to hazardous materials operations, and the training for driving the ambulance is arguably the least of these.

Another common misconception is that paramedics are somehow financially motivated to harvest organs. Medics do not have much to do with organ donation aside from being aware that it is one reason (among other more important ones) to provide life support when possible, even in the case of a "lost cause."

Other misconceptions I have encountered:

  • Assuming the medic gets paid for delivering people to hospitals, and that is the motive behind them trying to convince a patient to go to the ER.
  • Thinking medics can and do use lights and sirens whenever they feel like it.
  • (Sadly) thinking a medic has the equipment, training and access to a vet hospital to provide care for an injured pet.
  • I have encountered several cases where patients were convinced they received different care based on their race. One pointed out the two similar boxes we carry (one for trauma, one for medical emergencies) as proof, and refused to believe the different equipment wasn't part of this.
  • Some people think paramedics transport bodies.
  • Thinking paramedics can help them with odd jobs. One woman once called us to fix her shower.
  • Thinking paramedics can give medical advice outside of emergencies, that they can do check-ups for kids wanting to participate in school sports, or that they are doctors.
  • Thinking that a paramedic can fight a fire or shoot a bad guy; people understandably get very upset when a paramedic arrives at a call where some other emergency service must act first and waits (instead of doing something like going into a house where someone has been shot before police arrive.)

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