You Make the Call – The Bar

Ah, a day off! You’ve decided to head out for a few quick drinks with friends and meet at a little restaurant/bar in a quiet suburb. As you try to describe to your fire and PD buddies about the culture at an event such as EMSExpo, they ask if folks wander into area bars in uniform.

Replying in the negative, they laugh and ask if folks wander into bars in uniform wearing stethoscopes.
When you glare at them they laugh and point over your shoulder to the other side of the bar.

Seated at a stool and drinking a beer is a fellow in EMS pants, a blue shirt with a large “EMT” on the back and, sure enough, a stethoscope around his neck.  The shirt shows no company or department name and he is wearing no ID you can see.

While you try to make sure you are seeing what you are seeing, your PD buddy says, “Well, are you going to say something?”

You make the call.

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75 thoughts on “You Make the Call – The Bar”

  1. I would probably strike up a conversation and ask if he was on shift. Why be at the bar with gear on like that if you’re all done for the day? If he was on shift, he would get shit from me big time. That is just unacceptable. However, if he’s not, he’s an adult and can make his own decisions. Interesting that having a drink carries a negative stigma, and that he could be making all EMS workers look bad, but that is all totally subjective.

  2. I would probably strike up a conversation and ask if he was on shift. Why be at the bar with gear on like that if you’re all done for the day? If he was on shift, he would get shit from me big time. That is just unacceptable. However, if he’s not, he’s an adult and can make his own decisions. Interesting that having a drink carries a negative stigma, and that he could be making all EMS workers look bad, but that is all totally subjective.

  3. I’d have to agree with Soozey. I’ve got enough cojones to ask if he’s on shift or not. If he is, then I’d ask him what department he was with and who his supervisor is. If he’s off shift, tell him he needs to reconsider what outfit he wears when he goes out drinking. Heaven help us if he’s getting off shift, gonna get wasted and then drive himself home. Maybe a gentle reminder that he probably wants to continue driving the ambulance instead of riding in the back on the gurney.

  4. I’d have to agree with Soozey. I’ve got enough cojones to ask if he’s on shift or not. If he is, then I’d ask him what department he was with and who his supervisor is. If he’s off shift, tell him he needs to reconsider what outfit he wears when he goes out drinking. Heaven help us if he’s getting off shift, gonna get wasted and then drive himself home. Maybe a gentle reminder that he probably wants to continue driving the ambulance instead of riding in the back on the gurney.

  5. One thing I noticed on my very short time in EMS you quickly forget you even have the stethoscope around your neck. I walked into breakfast at Denny’s with my crew and was half way through before I realized I had it around my neck. I’ve worn it home that way, I could see forgetting after work.

  6. One thing I noticed on my very short time in EMS you quickly forget you even have the stethoscope around your neck. I walked into breakfast at Denny’s with my crew and was half way through before I realized I had it around my neck. I’ve worn it home that way, I could see forgetting after work.

  7. I have no patience for this sort of crap. Seen it before, fake ass losers trying to look cool. Most recent one was a guy claiming to be a Flight Medic at Starbucks, dressed in black bdu pants with a white short sleeved shirt with State EMT patch on right sleeve but no dept patch, LEATHER BASKETWEAVE duty belt, old school beeper and an earpiece with te wire going down to his belt, but no radio. I walked right up to him and asked where he worked, when his story fell apart, I told him to leave and never show up again in his “uniform”. Found out a while later that he was a bag boy at the grocery store across the street. Saw him many times at that Starbucks after that, never again in that “uniform” though. I just do not have time/patience/sympathy for people like that, we have enough people in our profession that look unprofessional, we don’t need “wannabees” running around making it even worse.

  8. I’d offer to buy him a Coke. After all, he *could* be in the bar picking up a pizza for lunch/dinner, and not there to consume alcohol, even though that might be the first perceived notion folks may have.

  9. I’d offer to buy him a Coke. After all, he *could* be in the bar picking up a pizza for lunch/dinner, and not there to consume alcohol, even though that might be the first perceived notion folks may have.

  10. I’d casually ask if he was on duty, and if not, I’d ask if he knew he had his stethoscope around his neck. I’d also suggest he turn his shirt inside out.

    If he’s on duty (or supposed to be), I’d question why he was there. Did he suddenly stress out (Hey, it HAPPENS)? Is he OK? If he needs help, I’d assist him to get it at that point, regardless of who he works for.

  11. I’d casually ask if he was on duty, and if not, I’d ask if he knew he had his stethoscope around his neck. I’d also suggest he turn his shirt inside out.

    If he’s on duty (or supposed to be), I’d question why he was there. Did he suddenly stress out (Hey, it HAPPENS)? Is he OK? If he needs help, I’d assist him to get it at that point, regardless of who he works for.

  12. Chicks dig a guy in an EMS T-shirt. I understand that some departments have rules about wearing their T-shirts and uniforms while off duty, and thats fine. But whats wrong with advertising that you are a fire/ems/cop in a bar- especially one that a lot of fire/ems/cops frequent?

    In my area there are a few bars that have fire/ems nights and the place is packed with T-shirts. If the guy wants to wear a stethoscope too, well…he may look a little more like a tool (think where thats been!) but I don’t think it hurts the integrity of the profession. Are we pretending that EMS people don’t drink now?

    As for being on duty and drinking a beer- yeah thats not cool. I generally approach Fire/EMS people and ask em where they work anyway. Most are pretty friendly and some are downright chatty. I’ve never called to check on a guy yet, but if the dude goes “yeah I gotta work in an hour” I probably would call his department.

  13. Chicks dig a guy in an EMS T-shirt. I understand that some departments have rules about wearing their T-shirts and uniforms while off duty, and thats fine. But whats wrong with advertising that you are a fire/ems/cop in a bar- especially one that a lot of fire/ems/cops frequent?

    In my area there are a few bars that have fire/ems nights and the place is packed with T-shirts. If the guy wants to wear a stethoscope too, well…he may look a little more like a tool (think where thats been!) but I don’t think it hurts the integrity of the profession. Are we pretending that EMS people don’t drink now?

    As for being on duty and drinking a beer- yeah thats not cool. I generally approach Fire/EMS people and ask em where they work anyway. Most are pretty friendly and some are downright chatty. I’ve never called to check on a guy yet, but if the dude goes “yeah I gotta work in an hour” I probably would call his department.

  14. That is an interesting question that does not appear to have an answer that is a really good answer. Certainly I would strike up a conversation and try to determine if they were on duty. Drinking on duty is just wrong no matter what the situation. If he was on duty I’d have to tell him that it was wrong and that he shouldn’t be here. Contacting his supervisor would probably be in order if I could determine who that was.

    Beyond that I guess it depends on how talkative the guy is. I’d try to get some idea of why he was there. Did he have a bad shift and needed to decompress? Could I help even just by listening? I’ve had those days. I’d certainly consider, as politely as possible, suggesting that he consider taking off the uniform shirt and stethoscope so as not to attract as much attention. I usually have a spare shirt in my car to wear after work if I’m going somewhere besides home, perhaps I’d offer it to him.

    If he told me to bugger off I would just go back to my seat, not much else I could do at that point. I would have made a good faith effort to try and help.

    I guess my point is that just like Police and Fire we in EMS need to stop eating our young and try to take care of each other a little better.

  15. That is an interesting question that does not appear to have an answer that is a really good answer. Certainly I would strike up a conversation and try to determine if they were on duty. Drinking on duty is just wrong no matter what the situation. If he was on duty I’d have to tell him that it was wrong and that he shouldn’t be here. Contacting his supervisor would probably be in order if I could determine who that was.

    Beyond that I guess it depends on how talkative the guy is. I’d try to get some idea of why he was there. Did he have a bad shift and needed to decompress? Could I help even just by listening? I’ve had those days. I’d certainly consider, as politely as possible, suggesting that he consider taking off the uniform shirt and stethoscope so as not to attract as much attention. I usually have a spare shirt in my car to wear after work if I’m going somewhere besides home, perhaps I’d offer it to him.

    If he told me to bugger off I would just go back to my seat, not much else I could do at that point. I would have made a good faith effort to try and help.

    I guess my point is that just like Police and Fire we in EMS need to stop eating our young and try to take care of each other a little better.

  16. If he was wearing an FDNY uniform, I would ask if he was picking up a meal (the only allowance for uniform in a bar & not responding to a job). If not, I would tell him to take the shirt off & turn it inside out, and advise him/her to always have an off-duty shirt for just such occasions. If he was on duty, I would call our CISD team, as this guy has Issues that need attention-& advise him to turn the shirt inside out.

  17. If he was wearing an FDNY uniform, I would ask if he was picking up a meal (the only allowance for uniform in a bar & not responding to a job). If not, I would tell him to take the shirt off & turn it inside out, and advise him/her to always have an off-duty shirt for just such occasions. If he was on duty, I would call our CISD team, as this guy has Issues that need attention-& advise him to turn the shirt inside out.

  18. I disagree with you MacMedic. There is a very good answer for it indeed. As an EMT if you appear in public anywhere while in uniform or any other article of clothing identifying yourself as an EMT, then everyone sees you as being “on duty”, even if you are wearing an EMT t-shirt and jeans. Therefore, it is my opinion (and ONLY my opinion) that it is, at the very least immoral to be seen in a bar or other establishment drinking alcohol while wearing clothing with anything at all to do with EMS. If I were to see it, I would say something tactfully. After all what if something were to happen in the establishment that required the assistance of EMS….would YOU want a medic working on you if you had seen him drinking previously? I know I wouldn’t….Just my humble two cents’ worth.

  19. I disagree with you MacMedic. There is a very good answer for it indeed. As an EMT if you appear in public anywhere while in uniform or any other article of clothing identifying yourself as an EMT, then everyone sees you as being “on duty”, even if you are wearing an EMT t-shirt and jeans. Therefore, it is my opinion (and ONLY my opinion) that it is, at the very least immoral to be seen in a bar or other establishment drinking alcohol while wearing clothing with anything at all to do with EMS. If I were to see it, I would say something tactfully. After all what if something were to happen in the establishment that required the assistance of EMS….would YOU want a medic working on you if you had seen him drinking previously? I know I wouldn’t….Just my humble two cents’ worth.

    1. Not disagreeing with you. We do represent our agency and our profession any time we step out in uniform. Of that there can be no dispute. What doesn’t have a completely satisfying answer is what to do about it this situation. You can say something tactfully but it’s only a good solution if they respond positively. If they tell you to get lost you are out of good solutions and then left with solutions that are less satisfying and less effective.

      Believe it or not we are pretty much on the same page here.

      1. im totaly behind those way of thinking but :) where i have a lilte problem is if that person dosent want to listen or tell you to F.. off then wath ? yes turn arond and leave is the ways to resolve but some have a more prime tempor i would say and then it may go bad …

  20. Not disagreeing with you. We do represent our agency and our profession any time we step out in uniform. Of that there can be no dispute. What doesn’t have a completely satisfying answer is what to do about it this situation. You can say something tactfully but it’s only a good solution if they respond positively. If they tell you to get lost you are out of good solutions and then left with solutions that are less satisfying and less effective.

    Believe it or not we are pretty much on the same page here.

  21. I’m surprised no one has mentioned that he might not actually BE an EMS personnel. He could be there for a fancy dress (costume) pub crawl/bar hop, and bought the clothes/etc online (keen much?)

    If he is an EMT and on/off duty, then see above….lol

  22. I’m surprised no one has mentioned that he might not actually BE an EMS personnel. He could be there for a fancy dress (costume) pub crawl/bar hop, and bought the clothes/etc online (keen much?)

    If he is an EMT and on/off duty, then see above….lol

  23. Good scenario HM! I think the shirt can be considered separately. I’ve been known to wear work-related t-shirts off duty and even into bars on occasion. I know plenty of firefighters and cops who do the same. I think the shirt has to be taken in context. If it’s paired with jeans or shorts, it should be pretty clear that someone is off duty. In the context of a stethoscope and EMS pants, the individual is giving the impression he is on duty, whether he is or isn’t, they’re both harmful.

    I work private EMS and often drop by the grocery store after work in uniform. I don’t even buy beer there if I look like I’m on the clock. That basically means uniform shirt or EMS pants. I have enough respect for myself, my agency and my profession to not give people the impression that I’m buying booze on duty.

    As far as dealing with the guy, I’d wander over and strike up a conversation. Ask where he works, how his day was/is and what kind of shifts he works. Whether he’s on the clock or not, I would suggest that he think twice about how it looks to be in uniform at a bar. No sense in being a jerk about it, but it’s important that he understand the consequences of that kind of action.

  24. Good scenario HM! I think the shirt can be considered separately. I’ve been known to wear work-related t-shirts off duty and even into bars on occasion. I know plenty of firefighters and cops who do the same. I think the shirt has to be taken in context. If it’s paired with jeans or shorts, it should be pretty clear that someone is off duty. In the context of a stethoscope and EMS pants, the individual is giving the impression he is on duty, whether he is or isn’t, they’re both harmful.

    I work private EMS and often drop by the grocery store after work in uniform. I don’t even buy beer there if I look like I’m on the clock. That basically means uniform shirt or EMS pants. I have enough respect for myself, my agency and my profession to not give people the impression that I’m buying booze on duty.

    As far as dealing with the guy, I’d wander over and strike up a conversation. Ask where he works, how his day was/is and what kind of shifts he works. Whether he’s on the clock or not, I would suggest that he think twice about how it looks to be in uniform at a bar. No sense in being a jerk about it, but it’s important that he understand the consequences of that kind of action.

  25. Not saying its right or wrong but the departments I work for are also the communities I live in or near and I am very careful about wearing even a jacket from my department to the bar. That being said when myself or my family goes on vacation they bring me t-shirts from whatever department of the city they went to and I don’t have a problem wearing them in the bar. But they are all from places far away from Ohio: California, Hawaii, Florida etc. I’m proud to show off being part of this brotherhood but my department’s policies are very clear.

  26. Not saying its right or wrong but the departments I work for are also the communities I live in or near and I am very careful about wearing even a jacket from my department to the bar. That being said when myself or my family goes on vacation they bring me t-shirts from whatever department of the city they went to and I don’t have a problem wearing them in the bar. But they are all from places far away from Ohio: California, Hawaii, Florida etc. I’m proud to show off being part of this brotherhood but my department’s policies are very clear.

  27. Did your PD buddy ask if the alleged cohort was a parolee? I mean if he had what appeared to be jailhouse tats on just about every visible inch of his skin? You know, hypothetically, I mean.

  28. Did your PD buddy ask if the alleged cohort was a parolee? I mean if he had what appeared to be jailhouse tats on just about every visible inch of his skin? You know, hypothetically, I mean.

  29. By wearing the shirt he is identifying himself as an EMT. If an emergency were to occur in the bar he would have a hard time justifying why he didn’t act. It would be even worse for him if he is or has consumed alcohol and then acts. Personally, I don’t even identify myself on my vehicle. Proud of my profession and there are plenty of other shirts to wear off duty that reflect that. Most of us are familiar with the different agencies in our local area. No problem here notifying any supervisor of this issue. If the gentleman is on duty or not the supervisor can handle it professionally.

  30. By wearing the shirt he is identifying himself as an EMT. If an emergency were to occur in the bar he would have a hard time justifying why he didn’t act. It would be even worse for him if he is or has consumed alcohol and then acts. Personally, I don’t even identify myself on my vehicle. Proud of my profession and there are plenty of other shirts to wear off duty that reflect that. Most of us are familiar with the different agencies in our local area. No problem here notifying any supervisor of this issue. If the gentleman is on duty or not the supervisor can handle it professionally.

  31. My first thought is, since it sounds like a generic EMS shirt, he is there trying to pick up girls… Or guys, and he might not even be a real EMT. Might be trying to play the sensitive burned out EMT. But either way, I would have striked up a conversation and tried to get to the bottom of it. I’m sure most agencies have rules about being in uniform while at a place like that. And we can all agree this makes the profession look bad and needs to be addressed.

  32. My first thought is, since it sounds like a generic EMS shirt, he is there trying to pick up girls… Or guys, and he might not even be a real EMT. Might be trying to play the sensitive burned out EMT. But either way, I would have striked up a conversation and tried to get to the bottom of it. I’m sure most agencies have rules about being in uniform while at a place like that. And we can all agree this makes the profession look bad and needs to be addressed.

  33. Considering we live in a free country without a dress code, and no affiliation is present on his attire, I would have a lot of fun at his expense. Shallow of me to amuse myself with wannabe medics, I know, but anybody who walks into a bar with a stethoscope around his neck, (or imho anywhere, work included) is looking for attention, and I’m just the guy to give it, though probably not the attention he was seeking.

    Or, depending on my mood, I might just ignore him.

  34. Considering we live in a free country without a dress code, and no affiliation is present on his attire, I would have a lot of fun at his expense. Shallow of me to amuse myself with wannabe medics, I know, but anybody who walks into a bar with a stethoscope around his neck, (or imho anywhere, work included) is looking for attention, and I’m just the guy to give it, though probably not the attention he was seeking.

    Or, depending on my mood, I might just ignore him.

  35. At that I would listen, ready to throw the BS flag at any minute in order to save some fair damsel from herself.

    And for all of us here that say we sometimes wear our stethoscope around are neck…change that bad habit now. If a patient gets a hold of both ends of it the only way you get away from him or her is to fight for your life (not that we shouldn’t all have to do that at least once in our lives just to see what its like).

    The good Lord put big pockets on your pants to carry that thing in.

  36. At that I would listen, ready to throw the BS flag at any minute in order to save some fair damsel from herself.

    And for all of us here that say we sometimes wear our stethoscope around are neck…change that bad habit now. If a patient gets a hold of both ends of it the only way you get away from him or her is to fight for your life (not that we shouldn’t all have to do that at least once in our lives just to see what its like).

    The good Lord put big pockets on your pants to carry that thing in.

  37. it depends on what he’s doing, but I would most likely ask him what was up in a quiet, calm, professional, and private (if possible) manner. Seems off that he would be in a generic EMT shirt, as all of our local departments have a different graphic and clearly ID the department. it certainly doesn’t sound like he was exercising good judgment in his choice of attire and location though.

    ~Brad
    @EMTGoose

  38. it depends on what he’s doing, but I would most likely ask him what was up in a quiet, calm, professional, and private (if possible) manner. Seems off that he would be in a generic EMT shirt, as all of our local departments have a different graphic and clearly ID the department. it certainly doesn’t sound like he was exercising good judgment in his choice of attire and location though.

    ~Brad
    @EMTGoose

  39. If the tee-shirt has an agency affiliation, FD, 3rd service, private ambulance, then I believe he falls into the idiot category.

    If it just says EMT then, dunno. Stethoscope? Only if it’s October 31st.

    When he entered he bar, did the patrons all holler “Norm!!” ?

  40. If the tee-shirt has an agency affiliation, FD, 3rd service, private ambulance, then I believe he falls into the idiot category.

    If it just says EMT then, dunno. Stethoscope? Only if it’s October 31st.

    When he entered he bar, did the patrons all holler “Norm!!” ?

  41. i would go out at him talk a lilte and let him know weather you are on duty or not that while wearing the gear in a bar with a beer is making me look non professionel and the reason is this : if you are in a bar alone in your civil clothing piss drunk population in general will say … look at this poor drunk men ! if you are wearing your gear population in general will say … wow see that EMT,PARAMEDIC drunk i would not want to have THEM treat me !!! making all other medic look like they are just like him …

  42. i would go out at him talk a lilte and let him know weather you are on duty or not that while wearing the gear in a bar with a beer is making me look non professionel and the reason is this : if you are in a bar alone in your civil clothing piss drunk population in general will say … look at this poor drunk men ! if you are wearing your gear population in general will say … wow see that EMT,PARAMEDIC drunk i would not want to have THEM treat me !!! making all other medic look like they are just like him …

  43. im totaly behind those way of thinking but :) where i have a lilte problem is if that person dosent want to listen or tell you to F.. off then wath ? yes turn arond and leave is the ways to resolve but some have a more prime tempor i would say and then it may go bad …

    1. My fave. is trying to pry the info out for a good 10 mitunes and then they say yo, heres da sheet right here well, atleast they have one.btw, love the blog. my partner and i are loving it.

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