The EMS Shuffle

We have all seen it, and most of us have done what I snarkly refer to as The EMS Shuffle. Not only do we do it, we defend the practice as if it were our exclusive right as first responders to stroll toward an emergency,  or perceived emergency at our own pace, even if that is as slow as a sickly old turtle.

Nonsense I say. There is nothing more frustrating, stress elevating, infuriating and downright ridiculous as an emergency responder acting as if there is no need to hurry. We can claim that fools rush in, and caution is king, and only Yahoo’s or people hoping to capture the attention of a cameraman and get on the news are those who run all day long, but I suspect even we know how empty those excuses are.

Experienced medics never run goes the conventional wisdom. Well, my wisdom must be unconventional, because I have no problem with a spirited dash to a patient in need. I’m not suggesting an all out sprint, but a little pep in your step never hurt anybody. 

Like it or not, The EMS Shuffle will be misinterpreted as laziness or lack of caring by those waiting for us to arrive. Their emotions are at a high level already, no sense giving them even more time to feed their hunger for somebody to blame.

My advice, for what it’s worth? Move with purpose, walk briskly most of the time, and jog when needed. It won’t kill you, and might even save a life now and then.


  • Cati says:

    I learned to never run on an EMS run. Running
    causes injury to runner. Walk briskly
    watching for things that might cause injury
    such as 2 left feet or untied boot laces.
    Not running is actually smart not lazy.

  • Tim says:

    You don’t want to approach the scene like a snail on morphine, but the faster you move towards the patient, the less thorough your scene assessment.

  • Kyle says:

    Editorials like this are silly. It is frustrating to see people claim that the way they would do a thing could save a life or two with no proof or citation for such a claim. No arguments are made here, just inflammatory statements.

    • Michael Morse says:

      It’s not an editorial, it’s a blog post, my editorials are longer and well thought out, this is simply my opinion following some time reading commentary concerning a medic who was chastised for walking slowly to a football player who lost consciousness.

  • Ed says:

    My advice is move like you would expect one to come to your aid….. even if you would only call for a true emergency. We only harm our own reputation and professional appearances by doing the casual Sunday morning stroll. The public despises nothing more than a crew who thinks they are God and the emergency is over just because I am almost at the patient side.

    There’s a thing called empathy that most medics seem to sleep through in school.

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