There is a lot of buzz on the interwebs about a new TV show on NBC this fall. I have remained neutral as to what I think about the show, since I have not seen it, but judging from the previews, I don’t think we’ll see anything too new when it comes to the way our profession is viewed by the TV audience and those in the business.
Then I thought more about the impact TV medicine has had on my ability to treat patients in the field. I tried to get mad about folks calling for the new medicine they saw in commercials or that they have a condition seen on last night’s episode of House or ER.
But I realized that the way EMS and EMS patients are portrayed actually plays into our favor. Follow me on this. There are a few conditions I classify with the prefix “TV” as in “TV-Seizures.”
TV-Seizures have a person, often in their 20s to 30s, flopping around on the floor, holding their eyes shut tight while the friends panic and run around looking for something to put into their mouth. I often lean down into the patient’s ear, introduce myself as a Paramedic and explain that I know what a seizure looks like and that they can stop faking it now.
TV-Overdose has a number of subsets but my favorite is the ice in the crotch for the heroin OD. Whether this is an old herbal remedy minus the herbs or what, it certainly is a perfect way to let me know he was using heroin. You can deny it all you want but when you try to explain the ice in the crotch and pits is where a drink spilled, now you look silly.
TV-Medics are always on their way to another career. “I’m going to medical school,” is my favorite, but they rarely portray EMTs and Medics who want to be just that. The one exception I found was the short lived show “Saved” that featured a laid back medic who’s family kept trying to get him into medical school, but he declined. His partner was, alas, studying to go back to school. I like the trendy T-shirt with “bus driver jacket” uniform he wore. So relaxed. I will one day put a Ferrari patch on my jacket ala Mother. I’ll post a pic.
But in the end, they always have someone kicking in the door to the trauma room and shouting vitals to attentive ER staff. HA!….sorry….that always gives me a good belly laugh. More than once I’ve had to block the nurses station to get a spot. That’s not good TV.
TV has a lot to offer our struggling profession, little of it can be good because when you get down to it, our job is boring. There are no smoke creatures on a tropical island, no bikini clad co-eds romping in strange stunts (not all the time anyway) and no cash prize at the end. The reason TV shows about EMS never do well is because they follow the characters home. Remember when Rescue Me was a cool firefighter show? Then they followed Tommy home, the family got weird and now it’s a circus soap opera set in a firehouse.
Come on TV Producers, give us a show about EMS that show the public the truth! Show them the countless hours of training and recertification, standby, paper work, stocking and dealing with 911 abusers, finding a clean bathroom on post, not just the “You’re not dying on my watch!” cliche. I’ve tried it, it doesn’t work at all.