Top 10 events that should be in the EMS Olympics

If EMS had its own Olympic Decathlon, here’s what our events would be

Updated Feb. 13, 2018

Citius. Altius. Fortious.

While the Olympic motto of "Faster, higher, stronger," has been in place since 1881, given the poor physical conditioning of myself and many of my EMS colleagues, if we ever had our own EMS Olympics, our motto might be Debilior. Tardius. Inferior.; "Slower, lower, weaker."

Wait until your partner has his head under the hood checking engine fluid levels and hit the siren.
Wait until your partner has his head under the hood checking engine fluid levels and hit the siren. (Photo/

Of course, given the problems the host city had preparing for the 31st Olympiad, when the 2016 Summer Olympics kicked off in Rio, the organizers might have to add a few events, like the "Avoid the mugger 100-meter dash," or "raw sewage surfing."

But as long as we’re thinking outside the box here, let’s consider a few alternate events where EMS athletes might have a decent chance of winning gold. Without further ado, I give you the events of the EMS Decathlon:

10. Code surfing

Sure, we rarely do it any longer because most EMS systems recognize the benefit of working cardiac arrests on scene, but then again, the biathlon in the Winter Olympics has no modern application. Code surfing participants ride an ambulance stretcher from the ambulance bay to an emergency department bed while performing chest compressions on a recording CPR manikin.

The fastest time while keeping an adequate rate and depth of compressions wins. Points are deducted for tipping the stretcher over, dislodging ET tubes, snagging IV lines or detaching defibrillation electrodes.

9. Synchronized pit-crew CPR

This event combines the moves of synchronized swimming and the teamwork of a track and field relay. Four-man teams perform a resuscitation of a simulated arrest victim, using the traditional roles of airway rescuer, compressor #1, compressor #2 and ALS rescuer.

The team is graded on effectiveness of chest compressions, speed and placement of endotracheal intubation, timing and duration of artificial ventilation and the dosing and interval of resuscitation medications.

Points are deducted for excessive peri-shock pauses or other hands-off time, excessive ventilation or delays in drug administration or defibrillation. Drug dosage calculations result in immediate disqualification.

8. Ambidextrous BVM ventilation

The 85-pound patient has dentures, but isn’t wearing them. You are required to maintain a mask seal over the vague cavity beneath her nose and deliver adequate ventilation. Any request to the judges to hook up the oxygen, assist with 2-person BVM ventilation or suction the oropharynx will be met with a terse, "I’m busy over here, handle it yourself!"

7. Team high jump

Yeah, normally the high jump is an individual track and field event, but with a partner, you can get more altitude than Dick Fosbury ever dreamed.

Just wait until your partner has his head under the hood checking engine fluid levels and hit the siren. Timing is everything here. You want him close enough to feel maximum panic, but not so close that his altitude is limited by impact with the ambulance hood. Bonus points will be awarded for each YouTube video view in the first 12 hours.

6. Excited delirium Greco-Roman wrestling

Your opponent is a 300-pound meth addict with superhuman strength who believes you are a face-eating demon. Your challenge is to secure him to the stretcher with 4-point limb restraints and sedate him with intramuscular ketamine before he can do the same to you.

5. Ambulance giant slalom

This one has potential for the both the summer and winter games. The event goal is to drive your ambulance down a steep and winding country road with steep ditches on each side. In the back is your partner, trying to start an IV on a 100-year-old dehydrated lady who weighs 70 pounds.

In the summer, you’ll do this on an Alabama dirt road coated in slick gumbo mud. In winter, it’ll be upstate New York and the road will be blanketed in snow and black ice.

4. IV octopus

This is the ultimate test of paramedic skill and manual dexterity. While your partner is driving the ambulance in the aforementioned giant slalom, you’re starting an IV on a sweet little grandmother who desperately needs fluids and pain medication. But she flinches at every touch while your partner drives like a blindfolded man with palsy and the only vein you can find looks like it might hold a 22-gauge catheter.

Except the only way you can stick it is with your non-dominant hand and you don’t realize until after you made the venipuncture that your tape and IV line is still positioned on the wrong side. Try to attach and tape that IV line without spilling any blood.

Just. Try.

Actually, I’m not sure there should be a bronze and silver awarded in this event. Anyone who can finish this one deserves gold.

3. Synchronized sheet transfer

You’re moving a morbidly obese patient from a nursing home bed to your cot. The draw sheet is centered under the patient’s hips and thighs and the fitted bed sheet has more stretch than a rubber band. A robotic partner will randomly choose between "On three," and "Three, two and move."

Your goal is simple. Move the patient and still have un-herniated discs afterward.

2. Four-man body carry

The patient just collapsed from cardiac arrest in the bathroom. The only place with sufficient room to perform CPR is the living room which is one narrow hallway and two 90-degree turns through multiple doorways away.

And she’s buck naked after generously applying moisturizing body lotion just before she collapsed.

Good luck EMS athletes.

1. Four-man bariatric bobsled

The final patient in the EMS Olympics competition weighs 450 pounds and lives on the 18th floor. He cannot walk or fit on a stair chair.

And the elevator is out of service.

The job is to extricate the patient to the ground floor in darkened stairwell using a Stokes basket. To up the pressure the patient's family members shout, "Don’t drop him! Are you sure you know what you’re doing? Don’t look at me that way, I pay your salary!"

The fastest time to the lobby without killing your patient, mashing any team members into EMT fritters or creating a career-ending Facebook video rant directed at the patient's family wins the bariatric bobsled.

Those are my top ten choices for the EMS Olympic events. Which of these are you ready to win? Got any of your events own to add? Let us know in the comments!

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