I’m sure we’ve all heard this one before. I’m sure most of us have even said it – “It’s not my emergency!” I think it’s important to remember this, but not just for the reasons that you’re probably thinking.
When most providers reminder others that “it’s not your emergency” they generally do so as a reminder to not panic and to approach the situation calmly. It’s not my emergency – I’m not the one who’s drowning in my own fluids; I’m not the one having crushing chest pain; I’m not the one who is trapped in my vehicle after a car accident. It’s true – the patient is the person in crisis, not the provider. It is truly the patient’s emergency. As healthcare professionals we need to have a calm, systematic approach, all while maintaining a sense of urgency.
Where I’d like more of us to remember that it’s not our emergency is when it’s 0400 hours, it’s been a busy night shift, and you’re called for something you deem ridiculous – the “BS call”. Maybe it’s a male in his 30’s having an anxiety attack. Maybe it’s an elderly female who just doesn’t feel well. No matter what the patient’s complaint is, your complaint is that they’re bothering you “unnecessarily”.
Well… it’s their emergency, not yours.
So, maybe you wouldn’t have called 911 if the same thing was happening to you. That doesn’t matter. In the eyes of your patient their condition is an emergency and still deserves your full attention. It’s why we’re there. Your patient didn’t call 911 so you could come to their house in the middle of the night and be disrespectful, short, and rude. They need help, comfort, and compassion, and it’s your responsibility as a professional to provide that.
It’s absolutely true – it’s not your emergency. But it is someone’s.