Today I pulled at the Campus EMT squad, for lack of a car. I slept there last night, so as not to miss my 0830 midterm this morning due to inability to get there on time...and just stayed, because we're kind of having another snowstorm, and why not.
Our first call of the day was both wince-inducing and possibly a real emergency. It was called in to us from the student health center as an "abdominal pain" which turned out, when we got upstairs and got accosted by the questionably skilled nurses, to be TESTICULAR pain, possibly a torsion. A testicular torsion is A Bad Thing. In fact, it's a surgical emergency that has to be corrected pretty damn quick, or you lose the testicle involved to ischemia. The poor kid was really scared, and I don't blame him. I DO blame the nurse, who kept us outside the room for a minute, telling us "dont ask him any questions or examine him, just take him to the hospital. He's embarrassed".
No. If you want a TAXI, you call a TAXI. If you call an AMBULANCE, you get asked questions, vital signs taken, and assessed for any immediate problems. Can you imagine if an ambulance pulled up at the ER, and just unloaded the patient to the ER nurse saying "well, we dont actually KNOW what happened, because we didn't want to embarrass the patient. No, we didn't look at it either, cause the nurses at school said not to!"
The patient himself was quite cooperative, although he did refuse a physical genital exam- two women on the crew, i'm not sure I blame him, it's only a 5 minute hospital transport. i DID manage to elicit a possibly important history though- when he was a baby he had an inguinal hernia repair on the OTHER side...maybe this is just a hernia, not a torsion! I do feel sorry that he was embarrassed, our driver S is a guy, and he was practically wincing the whole way to the hospital, in sympathy. Still, better a little embarrassment NOW than a bigger problem later.
So there you have it. EMTs DO try to assess their patients. If you want to just get a ride, call a friend or a taxi. We're better than that. We'll try to help save your life if you give us a chance.