Public Perception Is Media Controlled
Most EMS providers are quick to point out the errors made in management and treatment of patients on televised dramas. As a provider and educator I am concerned by how much and how often the public perception of what we do is affected by these dramas. They
create unrealistic expectations on the part of our patients and their significant others.
Take defibrillation as an example. Typical soap opera scenario. Friends and loved ones gathered around the bedside of the unresponsive patient. Camera pans to the cardiac monitor which usually shows no less than a perfect RSR. The reguar beep of the monitor can be heard in the background. Suddenly, (and usually right before a commercial) there is a change in the beep, beep, beep to that fatal steady tone and again the camera pans to the monitor that shows the flat line that can only mean that the patient has checked out. But WAIT! In comes the crash team with the defibrillator
and the shock is delivered. Again the pan of the camera to the monitor screen. Stll flat line. (This, of course, adds to the drama). Several shocks later a miracle occurs and as quickly as the patient checked out he checks back in again, much to the joy and relief of family and friends. By noon he's sitting up eating lunch and all is well with the world.
About a year ago I began surveying lay people in CPR classes to determine if what I had long suspected was true. 80% of all persons surveyed thought defibrillation would "jump start" a dead heart. Many likened it to putting a battery charger on a dead battery except that it worked quicker. All had formulated their perceptions by watching television.