It’s hard to be your voice when I’m all choked up…

It’s hard to be your voice when I’m all choked up…


More than once I have had a hard time talking to someone about their violent encounter on the job. Mainly because I have been a victim myself, I can’t help but feel what they felt as they tell me their story.Notmyjob

And on more than one occasion I have been told “You are our voice” because “no one else cares”.

Many, many stories are given to me in anonymity. Like them I understand the ashamed feeling because an incident happened to me that I was unable to control. I believe that feeling stems from so much pressure in emergency medicine to be “in-control”.

I would like to share two quick short stories that constantly keep coming up. Not that they are any more or less important than others… but they are so close to my heart.

Many of you have already heard about story of my carjacking. But in my travels across the country, I hear stories to make my carjacking sound like a walk in the park. Take for instance a paramedic in a large urban service let’s call him “Mike”.
Although that’s not his real name… While on a class break, Mike tells me about how one day he got dispatched to a report of a 19-year-old female with behavioral issues. Upon his arrival he said that he thought “wow, she looks like my daughter“.  He walks over, and attempts using good customer service, he places hand on her shoulder and begins to introduce himself. Without warning she kicks him in the DT4EMS_1 (2)testicles.

Shocked and in disbelief, he bends forward clutching his testicles with both hands. He tells me  “Immediately something tells me she’s about to cut my throat!” He instinctively places hands over his throat with the universal choking sign.
Using a piece of broken plastic corner from a lunch tray, she slashed his face open leaving a humongous gash.

The physical wound healed and that scar is still visible on him today but the scars inside will probably last forever as well.
Where is the public outcry of support for Mike? Where is the yelling and screaming for change in the medical field when it comes to violence?

Sad thing is I have heard so many stories just like this one. Yet little attention is paid to the physical and emotional injuries that occur to staff due to violence.

I have to preface this story with a little background on the medic. Let’s call him “Bruce”. Bruce is the tough, strong and literally bad-ass of a medic who had twenty-years on the night shift of a large urban service.  He originally believed like so many before him, in “street justice” when it came to the use of force.  He sat in the first few hours in class with his arms folded but left at the end of the program with EVE“Kip, I am your disciple”. Meaning he understood the ridicule and fight he would have ahead to help change the culture in his area.

Shortly after his instructor course, I receive an almost frantic from him. He begins to tell me about a “patient” he just dropped off at a local emergency department. Bruce begins to tell me that they pick up a patient and transport him to the ED. He stated restraints were placed prior to arrival at the ED. Bruce said “I told the nurse I thought the guy was playing opossum and to keep him restrained“. Bruce said the nurse told him hospital policy was to get people out of restraints as soon as possible. Reluctantly Bruce complied with the nurse. He went out to put his truck back in order and complete paperwork when he remembered something he needed to do or tell the nurse. Bruce said he went back in and when he walked in the room he observed the man have the young nurse pinned in the corner and “sexually assaulting her with his hand down the front of her scrubs” and heard the guy say something along the lines of if you make a sound I’ll kill you. Bruce removed the guy from the nurse.refuse

Now here is why this bothers me… the nurse was reluctant to pursue criminal charges. And to this date I am unaware if she did.

You see our culture is to not talk about violence that occurs to us. Here I am sharing a story of a guy who gets his face slashed and no one cared plus the story of a young ED nurse and she felt compelled not to Home_safetell admin or the police for that is not our culture.

Their stories choke me up. I have shed tears telling them during  classes across the country. They choke me up because they have entrusted me to help be their voice.

And you wonder why I am so passionate about DT4EMS? Really?? And for future reference… I didn’t ask for this, but since it was given to me, I will do my part to make emergency medicine safer for those that follow me. The way I do this, and need your help, is to let those in medicine KNOW that it is not “just part of the job” to be assaulted.

For news reports of violence directed at staff you can visit Pre-Hospital Assault on Staff Log and our
In-Hospital Assault on Staff Log

Help us by telling others we exist. It is truly way past time to change the culture.


Kip Teitsort, Founder DT4EMS


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