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Two girls pretend to be patients as an EMT shows them the inside an ambulance. AP

Two girls pretend to be patients as an EMT shows them the inside an ambulance. AP

Students of an EMT class pose with an ambulance crew member (right). AP

Students of an EMT class pose with an ambulance crew member (right). AP

Okaloosa County, Florida EMTs check their vehicle’s supplies and equipment. AP

Okaloosa County, Florida EMTs check their vehicle’s supplies and equipment. AP

Ambulance to the Rescue!

Posted: January 2, 2016

A. Check the patient’s Airway.

B. How well is the patient Breathing?

C. Does the patient have good Circulation, or blood flow?

Imagine it’s early in the morning. An Emergency Medical Technician (we’ll call him Tom) practices his ABCs on a patient—and it’s a good thing he’s there! The patient has a blocked airway. That means she can’t breathe. Tom uses a suction machine to clear the patient’s throat. Then he listens to check for blood flow. But this patient doesn’t have a pulse at all! Tom needs his defibrillator right away. Soon, he has shocked the patient’s heart back into rhythm. He saved her life! But does that mean she’s ready to get up and walk down the street? No way! Tom rushes to roll her stretcher into the ambulance.

Tom drops his patient off at the hospital. Back at his station, he cleans out the ambulance. Then he has to replace any supplies he used. After that, he eats a quick breakfast. Then he waits for his next call.

Lots of times, Tom waits . . . and waits . . . and waits. Lots of times, his calls don’t turn out exciting at all—and that’s a good thing! In the afternoon, Tom gets a call. He needs to move a patient from one hospital to another for heart surgery. A monitor already keeps track of his heart. Tom just needs to keep him safe during his journey.

EMTs and paramedics often work long, long shifts. They rescue people who have good reasons for calling an ambulance. That includes people who get bitten or stung by insects and have bad allergic reactions. It includes accident victims or people having heart attacks. But sometimes ambulance workers get called to homes where people are not really in trouble. A grownup doesn’t really need an ambulance for a little cut. A toddler with a Lego up his nose doesn’t need one either! Do you know when it makes sense to call an ambulance?