Stereotypes come from somewhere

It’s 2am. We’re on the sidewalk.

A firefighter/EMT is taking a blood pressure with a cuff and a stethoscope.

“140 palp.”

I put the brilliant white beam of the powerful LED flashlight square in his face.

“Really? Are you fucking serious?”

Two other guys are unable to suppress their laughter and have to step away.

As with the palpated, not auscultated, blood pressure, the oft-heard “140 over 90” comes from lazy and indifferent providers. Granted, those are the public’s most familiar blood pressure numbers as the lower limit for what is considered hypertension. And yes, if we took a million blood pressures, the mean is probably somewhere near there. But, we’re talking about individual blood pressure measurements here, one patient at a time, one call at a time.

For those of us who have taken hundreds of thousands of blood pressures flying down the bumpiest roads, this is an insult. Do you think we’ve not heard the numbers “140 over 90” a thousand times before coming from the mouths of a thousand other assholes? Do you not realize that we know you’re full of shit? Do you not care that we know you either don’t know how to take a blood pressure or, worse, don’t care to properly measure one?

How you do routine things on little calls tells me exactly how you will do critical things on big calls, medical or not.

6 thoughts on “Stereotypes come from somewhere”

  1. “How you do routine things on little calls tells me exactly how you will do critical things on big calls, medical or not.”

    Life skills are being measured by people around one at all times–show your best side as often as you are able; get an education and use it, peeps. I hate half-fast people, activities and results.

  2. I have always taught my students that if you can’t get an accurate pressure, admit it! Try again, pass it off to a more experienced provider, do a palp, make the environment more conducive to getting a pressure (sirens off, different environment, etc.). Whatever needs to be done. Just don’t lie.

    Lying is something I do not accept. Sometimes you just can’t get a pressure and need someone else to use their ears, just like sometimes you have a rough streak of IVs. Admit it, ask for help, and move on.

  3. Around here it’s “120/80” just like they learn in EMT school. That’s when they bother to take out a stethoscope. Palping a BP is usually just laziness and I call them on it. As well as using the PulseOx to get a heart rate.

    It’s laziness and it’s not limited to fire service EMTs either.

    I spend a lot of time discussing basic stuff with EMTs, stuff they should know. Maybe they do know, but they don’t care. Well, they care once I’ve spoken to them. At least on calls with me.

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