The "Blatantly Stupid" Call: No Joke to Overburdened EMS & Hospital Staffs

You might have been in the business for only a week, or even less, but odds are you’ve already been dispatched to the infamous “blatantly stupid†call. You know what I’m talking about. It’s 3 o’clock in the morning...


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Some patients call us because they have no money for a taxi and they know they will not need any money up front for an ambulance ride. These are the people who have no intention of paying the bill or they have some form of taxpayer-funded medical insurance and do not worry about the bill.

Unfortunately, these calls are not going to go away anytime soon. A recent paper by the Institute of Medicine titled, “Future of Emergency Care Services, Emergency Medical Services at the Crossroads,†paints a bleak picture. One of the three reports contained within the document is called, “Hospital-based Emergency Care: At the Breaking Point.†The report explores the changing role of the hospital emergency department and describes the national epidemic of overcrowded emergency rooms and trauma centers.

So, the next time you get that 3 A.M. call from someone with hemorrhoids, remember this – if you tell your non-paramedic friends about it, they’ll swear you are making it up.


Gary Ludwig, MS, EMT-P, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is a deputy fire chief with the Memphis, TN, Fire Department. He has 28 years of fire-rescue service experience, and previously served 25 years with the City of St. Louis, retiring as the chief paramedic from the St. Louis Fire Department. Ludwig is vice chairman of the EMS Section of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), has a master’s degree in business and management, and is a licensed paramedic. He is a frequent speaker at EMS and fire conferences nationally and internationally. He can be reached through his website at www.garyludwig.com.