Basic math: 5 < 20

Code 3 for shortness of breath. It’s at an old people’s assisted-living place.

A BLS ambulance from a different agency is outside. An engine is parked behind it. This had better be good.

The fire crew is standing at the front desk. They clearly don’t want to go inside.

“It’s just a transfer.”

“Cool. Then you guys have a good day. See ya.”

I make a lot of fire crews happy.

A staff member leads us into the clinic. This place is nice enough that it’s actually got its own clinic.

The patient is on the BLS ambulance’s gurney. He does not look bad. Already, I’m not impressed.

The staff physician says they called for a BLS transfer because the patient is a bit short of breath and has a high fever. I turn to the BLS crew, waiting for them to volunteer the reason that we’re here, since they are obviously the ones who turned this fairly routine transfer into a 911 system call by requesting an ALS response.

“Uh, yeah, his fever is like 104.”

“How long have you been here?”

“About 20 minutes.”

I have no problem with BLS crews calling us out for help, but a fever in a patient who does not even seem to be in anything more than what I would call mild distress? Tell me you’re not comfortable with the shortness of breath or something, and I can learn to be fine with that. But don’t tell me you’re not comfortable with the fever. I mean, the hospital is 5 minutes away, and you’ve been here 20 minutes waiting for us? You could have already dropped him off at the ED and been done with your paperwork.

3 thoughts on “Basic math: 5 < 20”

  1. We are a BLS agency and this call would have maybe been an ALS call for the SOB part but maybe not. ALS would have been dispatched with BLS but I may have cancelled them depending on how the pt. presented. BUT! 20 minutes waiting for ALS??? WTF? We stress constantly that we do not wait for ALS. Even if the patient really needs ALS, we don’t wait! We meet up enroute. Either they are stupid or just plain lazy.

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