Catawba County News

EMS:  More Than Ambulance Drivers

EMS: More Than Ambulance Drivers

Published: March 09, 2022

Who and what is EMS?  What does it stand for?  It doesn’t stand for ambulance people, hearse operators, or ambulance drivers.  It stands for Emergency Medical Services.  Driver isn’t even a word in the acronym.  That must mean that driving isn’t the focal point of EMS.  This is 100% true!  Yes, Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and paramedics do drive the ambulances, but we do so much more than that!  Paramedics and EMTs provide pre-hospital emergency medicine to all people in need of medical assistance, ranging from a stubbed toe to someone not breathing.  We encounter patients of all ages, genders, races, and cultures with many types of complaints such as trauma from falls or motor vehicle crashes to medical emergencies from low blood sugar to allergic reactions and heart attacks. 

            What do paramedics and EMTs do when we encounter a patient?  We assess complaints and identify issues with the patient.  We provide treatments with IVs, medications, heart monitors, airway supplies, and many other tools and equipment.  We make important and critical decisions based on a few minutes of conversation with patients and bystanders.  We also make observations of what we see, hear, and smell.  This is important because it enables us to provide the needed care for a patient’s condition or injury.  We can administer medications to correct cardiac arrythmias that cause low or fast heart rate.  We provide medications to stop an active seizure. We provide medications to improving breathing in a patient suffering from respiratory distress.  We insert needles in people’s chests to fix collapsed lungs.  We insert breathing tubes in people’s tracheas through intubation so that a patient can effectively breathe.  The most impressive part of all this?  We can do it all while riding in the back of that ambulance while traveling on the roadways or in your living room.  When we are on the road, one provider drives while the other one provides care to the patient.  Then we switch roles and repeat the same process on the next call.  Sometimes, both providers are in the back with the patient while a fire fighter or rescue member drives the ambulance.  The capabilities provided to patients by EMTs and paramedics are very similar to the care that is provided in the Emergency Department at the hospital, not including x-ray, lab work, and other high tech scans.  It is the best care available to all when someone can’t successfully get to the ER.

EMTs and paramedics are very educated, many with associate degrees, bachelor degrees, or other advanced education.  We are very experienced.  We are very capable medical providers.  We are sometimes undervalued, underpaid, and underappreciated, except when the time and need for our service and assistance occurs.  Please do not believe or continue to speak of the myth that EMS is only a bunch of ambulance drivers.  We are much more than that.  Those that do understand this have already experienced the care provided to them, their friends, or their family members.  You don’t have to encounter EMS to know and understand.  As a matter of fact, we hope you don’t need us!  Be educated and understand that EMS is the real deal.  We are the first to help you in the event of an emergency.  When you are upset and frantic over the situation, EMS responds in cool, calm manner to save the day.  Whatever the need, we are here to help!