A Humorous Example of a Paramedic/EMT Communication Fail

So yesterday I was sitting at home, playing with my computer when the pager went off with both fire and EMS tones.  "Fire department is requested on the interstate, south-bound at Exit 100, for the rollover accident, multiple victims, report of ejection."

In our paid-on-call volunteer department, that's going to be an all-call where everyone available is expected to respond.  I called in, and threw on my coat.  I listened to the radio to determine who was responding so I would know if I was needed as a paramedic or as an engineer.  The EMTs who called in were all on my "I wanna work with them" list, so things were looking up already.

The first ambulance was at the hospital from a previous call, so I knew I would be needed to staff the second out ambulance.  As I arrived at the station, I put on my gear and signaled for a third EMT who was wondering where she should go to come with us.  An extra EMT on scene would likely be helpful.

When we arrived, we found two victims.  The chief pointed to a bloody man standing next to the heavily damaged car and said, "He's yours."  As I approached him, I stepped around a few firefighters who were kneeling on the ground, looking under the car, making an extrication plan to remove the second victim, on whom the car had landed.  He was going to be there a few minutes.

We helped the first victim onto the cot, taking cervical spine precautions, and moved him into the ambulance.  I passed out trauma sheers and we removed his clothes for the trauma assessment.

He had a likely pneumothorax, explaining the pain in his chest.  I could hear prominent localized crackles just under his left clavicle.  Air medical was already responding for the second victim, so we hit the road on the way to the local hospital.  With a ten minute drive, I had a lot to do in very little time.  My partner was going to have to help a lot, and I gave her frequent instructions on what was next.  She could do much of the work, but I had to get the IV.  She spiked the bag for me while I started.  The IV on my side failed to advance, I hit something and it just wasn't working, so I needed to switch sides.

I looked at the bench seat, which already had a coat, cardiac monitor, and radio sitting on it next to the big, bulky, and very in-the-way BLS jump bag.  I wanted room to work, so before I switched over, I told my partner, "Grab that bag and throw it on the floor up there," pointing to the front of the ambulance.

Being the quick responding EMT that she was, she immediately grabbed the IV bag and whipped it up front, drip set trailing through the air.


"My bad," I said.  "We're gonna need that, I meant the blue bag."

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