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Inside the ambulance: The number one thing paramedics want you to know

We have all seen ambulances racing down the road with their lights on, but have you ever wondered what’s going on inside? Ronnie Puckett, a paramedic with Grady EMS, Atlanta’s 911 emergency service provider, shares the lifesaving measures paramedics take during those crucial moments in an ambulance.

When an ambulance arrives on an accident scene, “the first thing we do is make sure the scene is safe,” says Puckett. “We don’t want to become a victim too. We make sure there are no power lines down, that we won’t be hit by an automobile passing by – situations like that.”

Once the area is secure and free of immediate danger, paramedics check the victim for the ABCs – airway, breathing and circulation. Then they can begin treatments for the patient’s condition.

Inside the ambulance

Inside the ambulance, you can find a variety of medical equipment, including cardiac monitors, oxygen tanks and IV equipment.

“We have basically everything a low-level emergency room would have,” explains Puckett. “The paramedic’s scope of practice is pretty narrow – we handle life-threatening emergencies.”

How paramedics train for emergency calls

Paramedics must undergo extensive training before they can take part in lifesaving missions.

“Paramedic training in Georgia lasts about 18 months,” he says. “There is a minimum that requires less than that, but most schools exceed the minimum.”

Requesting a specific hospital in an emergency

When a patient is in the ambulance, they may be able to request a specific hospital if it is nearby and can care for their specific condition.

“Our rule is to take patients to the nearest appropriate facility,” he explains. “If you are nearby and want to go to the hospital of your choice, that’s perfectly fine.”

What the public should know about ambulances

If you are ever driving and see an ambulance approaching with its lights on, there are several steps you need to take.

“If you are aware that an emergency vehicle is approaching from behind, the best thing to do is move to the right and stop if possible,” Puckett says. “If you are already stopped, stay where you are. Occasionally an emergency vehicle driver might give you direction to move left or right so they can proceed to the call.”

Preventing injury

While paramedics often receive calls for heart attacks and strokes, there is another type of injury that is quite common.

“A lot of times we have motor vehicle accidents and one of the most common injuries – although it’s minor – is an airbag injury,” he says. “However, if the airbag didn’t deploy, the injury would be much more significant.”

Puckett’s number one message for preventing common injuries and accidents in the first place?

“Wear your seatbelt. It is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself and your family,” he says.

Remember, if you hear an ambulance coming, be sure to stop and get out of its way – every minute counts when paramedics are working to save lives.

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