Stopping the Spread of Blood: How You Can Help EMTs

On Friday afternoon at 1600, a crew of EMTs are doing homework, watching the news, and playing video games. They are drinking coffee and joy is seen on their faces. Their stethoscopes are all on a table in the middle of the room and a bag of equipment is ready next to the exit door. Two big computers are connected together and ready to receive any dispatch. The room is filled with trophies, pagers, and pictures of medicine. The room is noisy with talk and laughter until the EMTs hear a sudden sound from their pagers. Everyone stops talking and listens carefully.

Tshhhhh Toooo Pepepepepepep

“Ambulance I and Ambulance II  to the scene at Newton Soccer Field  in Newton campus for mutual aid.”


The crew captain grabs his pager and responds,


“a crew of three are heading to Newton Soccer Field.”


At 1610, a Ford SUV drops a crew of two EMTs off at Newton Soccer Field. They open the back of the car and take out two bags and one yellow stretcher. They are wearing black hats, a dark uniformed outfits, and black shoes. They run to the patient, who appears to be a BC player who got hit by a ball and fell unconscious. The EMTs check for scene safety first. Then, they immediately check the patient’s airway, breathing, and circulation. After a couple of minutes, the player becomes conscious and the EMTs put the BC player on the yellow stretcher to transport him to the hospital. The audience stands up and applauds for the crew of EMTs and the player. The ambulance’s sirens are on and the EMTs are driving to Newton Medical Center. The life of the BC player, who was unconscious, would have been in danger if the EMTs did not provide him oxygen with some medications while transporting him to the hospital.  


“From crew I to Eagle II, We’re heading to NMC for further care. The patient is stable. He was given oral glucose, and he is on a non-rebreather mask.”


“Great job, guys!”


Emergency Medical Technicians provide immediate medical care to the people who need it twenty-four hours, seven days a week. EMS service is provided in most of the cities and colleges in the United States. Boston College-EMS has served the BC community since 1997. It’s all student-run emergency medical service. BC-EMS provides a crew of EMTs during games to respond to any medical incident. While some students sleep over the weekend to take a break after classes, EMTs, who are also students, go to the office in Maloney Hall and sit waiting for calls to save lives.

Because EMTs can’t predict what kind of patients they will get, they always have to check their equipment to be ready for future calls. Declan Ryan, a junior and an EMT in BC-EMS said, “We always have to be ready the moment we get the call.” During each shift, EMTs that are on duty check their equipment, such as suctions, NPA, OPA, oxygen, and AED. EMTs can not predict what kind of calls they get to. For example, they respond to cardiac, respiratory, toxic, allergic, and behavioral emergencies. Even though EMTs in Boston College are most likely to receive calls for toxic students, they can’t assume what the next call will be.

This unpredictability can be very dangerous to EMTs and can create delays to patients. For every patient with heart arrest, each passing minute reduces chances of survival by ten percent. “We do feel a little anxious when we get dispatched to an emergency incident, but feeling nervous is a thing that goes away as you do more and more. Sometimes, it’s exciting to go on a call and drive fast to save a patient’s life” (Declan). Being at an emergency incident puts EMTs’ lives in danger. To provide care to patients, EMTs should always check for scene safety: “Whenever you get a call and arrive on the scene, you should insure the safety of yourself, your partner, and then the patient. Any injury to the EMT can delay care to the patient.” EMTs have to consider their own safety when they’re dispatched and that can cause conflicts with their need to transport patients as fast as possible.

Today, unfortunately, EMTs are being targeted by terrorists or local citizens in the United States. For example, terrorists, such as ISIS, hatefully target people on the streets first and then EMTs after they arrive at the scene causing rivers of blood to be shed. Terrorists target EMTs because they don’t want them to save people’s lives. In other cases, EMTs in Massachusetts can be in a life threatening situation if they get a call in an area that discriminates against people based on their skin color. Some citizens don’t understand that EMTs’ goal when they’re on call is to find the “mechanism of injury” and treat the patient as soon as possible. Wearing black pants, dark shirt, and holding a pager can look like a police officer for some people, and police officers are not getting along with some groups of citizens these days. This puts EMTs at risk to be involved in a fight. In extreme cases, EMTs who go on calls to save people’s lives might even need to be saved.

Even though EMTs at Boston College don’t typically face terrorism attacks, they do encounter other threats. In Boston College, it’s very possible for EMTs to be victims of attacks from students who are drunk or under the influence of drugs. For example, patients can look normal at first, but things might change within seconds. Patients who look normal may turn violent and try to attack EMTs with any harmful tool. If EMTs get stabbed, they become the patients for the backup crew.  EMTs at BC are doing all they can to save students’ lives and make the BC community even better, but they also put their lives in danger. Non-EMT BC students can always contribute to the safety of the community by working with BC-EMS. Students can help by contacting BC-EMS anytime a friend is in a dangerous situation and providing them a clear view of the situation. Giving an idea of what kind of patient EMTs are heading to can put EMTs in less dangerous situations. Some students may think that calling BC-EMS during an emergency incident can put the patient in trouble, especially if she was doing an illegal action. However, taking actions can save patients’, friends’, and EMTs’ lives. If I’m with a friend and he’s not feeling well after he had a huge amount of alcohol, I would inform BC-EMS about every detail to save his life even if he will get in trouble. Saving my friend’s life would be my priority. What would you do ?