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ER Techs

They come to the emergency rooms looking for help, or are brought there by EMS or the police because they need help but don't know it. When they arrive they are treated with kindness, respect and professionalism. They are fed, given a bed and a blanket, a kind word, competent medical care and a safe place to get better.

Why, then, is an emergency room one of the most dangerous places in America to work? And of all the people to bear the brunt of the assaults, why the nurses aids, or emergency room techs, as we call them. These are the unsung heroes of the EMS system, the ones with the most direct patient contact and care.

Firefighters, police officers and EMT's in the street get all the press about the dangers of our jobs. Let's face it, a TV screen full of fire, or crashed cars, or scary looking bank robbers looks a lot more interesting on the evening news or the headlines than a psych patient who spit in the eye of somebody who was trying to help them, or an intoxicated person who grabbed a nurse's hair and pulled so hard her head smashed on the bed rail, or the drug induced punches that land on the head and body of the people trying to restrain them. But those incidents are just as violent, and far more prevalent than anybody would believe. Anybody except for those of us who see it every day.

Stay safe in there, people, and thank you.


We are all in this field for similar reasons. Saving lives, helping the sick and injured, making money, gaining self respect and the camaraderie are all part of the bigger picture. The people I work with in the local emergency rooms are just as dedicated as the firefighters I live with.

A group of people that seldom, if ever get mentioned or praise is the Security Guards. These men and women are vital to the successful operation of the ER, especially those at Rhode Island Hospital. Just today a guard named John, a big quiet guy from the South Providence neighborhood helped get a patient who refused to leave the back of the rescue into the ER. I never asked, just informed him that I was bringing him a combative patient. He took it upon himself to help us out. Another guard, Amir, also from South Providence helped a Spanish speaking patient communicate with the nurse trying to figure out what was ailing her. I'm sure no compensation is involved for the extra work and it would be just as easy to walk away, but Amir and most of his peers are willing to help when needed.

I've seen these people respectfully restrain the most violent, abusive patients in a calm, professional manner, never losing their cool while taking some obscene abuse from those they are helping. Black guards are routinely called niggers by drunken fools, the female guards endure their own share of harassment.
They somehow manage to turn the other cheek and do a great job.

A lot of pieces have to come together for things to work, lives to be saved and safety ensured. These folks are a bigger part of the puzzle than most people realize.



  • sarah says:

    Thank you for another amazing post, good to hear about the other unsung heroes.
    Keep up the good work and stay safe.

  • Mr618 says:

    Cap, as one who used to work security at an urban hospital (I almost said "major metropolitan hospital" but that would have made me sound too much like a Superman that I'm not), I appreciate the hat tip.
    The screwiest part would be when patients would come in off the ambulance restrained, and the doctor would order them released… then within two minutes, the doc would be screaming for restraints.
    We had one night when all the leather restraints were in use (before the days of nylon), and another whackado– err, distraught person came in. The doc wanted him restrained, no restraints available, so we went back to something we had learned years earlier – rolled towels for wrists and ankles, and a rolled sheet for the abdomen, secured by several wraps of the old cloth adhesive tape.
    Impressed the hell out of the new duckling-doctors, and kept everyone safe.

  • Heddwch says:

    Hmmmm…..the SEATTLE Times? That's NOT newsworthy. Washington, more importantly, SEATTLE is one of the most liberal cities in America. I think even more so than S.F.. I used to work in some of those Seattle ER's. Security is lax in several of them due to the liberal attitudes. You can't hurt anyone's feelings with out concern of some civil liberty group coming after you, so you have to take the beating. Also can't force mentally ill folks to take their meds, as that would be…forcing? Unkind? You name it, I've seen it. Harborview ER will make a man or woman out of you faster than the Marines! No joke. This is why I CHOOSE to work rural. (Harborview is the only level One trauma center in the area). 
    However, one a more serious note, you are right, ER techs don't get enough credit. I think that there should be far more security in ER's and that patients should be held accountable for their bad behaviour.

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