Top 10 things Kelly can't do in EMS

The maturation of EMS is somewhat bittersweet as we look back fondly on the days when we could Saran wrap the toilets at the station without fear of a workplace harassment lawsuit

I was reminiscing with a colleague the other day about just how much EMS has changed since the time when the ink was still wet on our EMT cards. In the 15 years that I’ve been an EMT, we’ve seen a lot of changes. Not only has emergency medical care become increasingly sophisticated, we’ve matured as a profession. Things we used to do routinely, we couldn’t get away with today.

Of course, for those of us who are perpetually juvenile, the maturation of EMS is somewhat bittersweet as we look back fondly on the days when we could Saran wrap the toilets at the station without fear of a workplace harassment lawsuit.

In that vein, I started thinking about all the things I used to do in EMS that are frowned upon today. So, in a shameless rip off of Skippy’s List, I give you the ''Top Ten Things Kelly Is No Longer Allowed To Do in EMS.'' Feel free to add your own in the comments section below.


No longer allowed to go Christmas caroling in the ambulance by cruising the neighborhoods on slow winter days and crooning Elvis’ Blue Christmas over the PA system ... and the Chipmunks Christmas Album is a no-no, too.
Forbidden to answer radio calls from the dispatcher with, ''Yes, Satan?''
According to the Run Ticket Nazi, I am not allowed to write ''demonic possession'' in the space for the patient’s chief complaint, even if the patient told me that’s why they called 911.
The phrase ''Imaginary Pillow Syndrome'' is not an acceptable substitute for ''kyphosis'' in the patient care record.
Not allowed to throw imaginary spiders on hallucinating psych patients.
Expensive, full-body training manikins are not to be stripped nude and carefully positioned behind a sleeping partner in the ''spooning'' position ... nor are they to be placed sitting on the toilet, with pants around the ankles, and the door left partially ajar.

In fact, just leave the manikins alone unless you’re actually using them for training.
Forbidden to decorate the ambulance fender with little silhouettes of dogs, pedestrians, kids on bikes, wheelchairs, etc. so that they look like kills painted on a fighter pilot cockpit, even if it was for a gag photo ... especially if you get a call and forget to take them off, and drive around like that all day.
When asked by the particularly rude ER nurse why I am transporting the patient to their facility, I am forbidden to answer with, ''Because the zoo is closed and there’s nothing good playing at the movies.''
No longer allowed to get send homeless alcoholics away with boxes of EKG electrodes and telling them they’re ''timed release aspirin patches.''
And the number one thing I can’t do in EMS:

No longer allowed to teach rookie EMTs how to reduce EKG motion artifact by using the ''Modified Scrotal Lead.'' However, rookie ER nurses are still fair game.

Are there any things you used to do in EMS, but are no longer allowed to do? Chime in!


About the author

Kelly Grayson, NRP, CCEMT-P, is a critical care paramedic in Louisiana. He has spent the past 24 years as a field paramedic, critical care transport paramedic, field supervisor and educator. He is president of the Louisiana Society of EMS Educators and a board member of the LA Association of Nationally Registered EMTs.

He is a frequent EMS conference speaker and contributor to various EMS training texts, and is the author of the popular blog A Day In the Life of an Ambulance Driver. Kelly's books are available on his author page at You can follow him on Twitter (@AmboDriver) or Facebook, or email him at Kelly is a member of the EMS1 Editorial Advisory Board.

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