News, Operations, Patient Care, Training

Chili Eating Contest Too Hot to Handle

Issue 12 and Volume 36.

Too Hot to Handle?
A few contestants at a “world’s hottest chili” charity eating competition in Scotland quickly became EMS patients after sampling one entry—aptly titled the “Kismot Killer.” Thankfully, the chili didn’t fully live up to its name, but it did cause one patient to need hospitalization and several to writhe in agony, pant and vomit. Although the contestants signed a waiver before competing, the organizers didn’t expect so many to become ill. Next year, we hope both the organizers and recipe makers will take the necessary precautions to cool things down a bit so this doesn’t occur again and unnecessarily tax the Scottish Ambulance Service or other EMS resources.

Careless Compromise
Recently, a Pennsylvania firefighter noticed boxes of ambulance call trip sheets in a Dumpster behind a fire station. On further examination, he noticed the documents also contained employee payroll records, which had belonged to the now inactive Hazleton Community Ambulance Association.

According to a story in Hazleton’s newspaper, The Standard Speaker, the records had been stored in a garage, but had to be removed. So one of the defunct ambulance association’s officers decided to ignore the proper protocols about document disposal and toss them into the Dumpster.

Apparently, the man thought the Dumpster was in a remote area and far enough out of sight so that no one would notice the boxes. He admitted to using “poor judgment,” claiming he was unable to take the paperwork to a shredder because it was Saturday. After the documents were found, he promised to make sure they were shredded.

Lucky for him and the countless individuals whose information would have been shared, no harm came from his carelessness thanks to the alert and conscientious firefighter who discovered them. Still, this doesn’t excuse the employee for his laziness and lackadaisical attitude about such a serious matter.

Harley Giveaway
To recognize public safety professionals—that’s you, EMTs and paramedics—California Casualty is giving away a Harley-Davidson XL Forty-Eight motorcycle.

All you have to do is enter is go to Although there are no strings attached, there are a couple of hoops to jump through. Depending on which state you live in, you might have to belong to a professional association.

It’s probably fair to say CC has more in mind than just giving away a sweet ride. The contest is a great way to make public safety professionals aware of the 97-year-old company, which offers auto and home insurance to select groups: educators, law enforcement officers, nurses, firefighters and EMS personnel.

We applaud the company’s acknowledgment that EMS folks are generally a low insurance risk—and for giving away a Harley. Did we mention it’s orange?

Quite the Punch
Scene safety can dictate whether you go home at the end of your shift—and this doesn’t always relate to dramatic incidents like a hazmat scene or a motor vehicle crash, a fact one Pennsylvania paramedic can attest to.

This paramedic and his partner responded to a call about a teenage male with chest pain. But when they arrived at the address they were given, no patient was in sight. While they drove around in search of the patient, someone knocked on the back door of the ambulance and asked for help. The paramedic opened the door and saw two young men. Then, before he could react, one of the men punched him in the face—twice.

Law enforcement responded within minutes of the partner’s call and took the attacker/patient into custody with charges of felony assault. He was treated for a possible panic attack. The paramedic went to the hospital, but was released soon after. He has more than 20 years of experience in EMS and naturally reacted the only way he knew how: as a caregiver.

We give a thumbs down—not to the paramedic involved—but to the general lack of attention the field of EMS has given over the years to training providers in self defense and scene safety. Without keeping our own safe and protected, how can they be expected to defend themselves, and perhaps their patients? It’s an area that needs more attention. JEMS

This article originally appeared in December 2011 JEMS as “Last Word: The Ups & Downs of EMS.”