BS Calls Off Duty - What Would you Do?


May 21, 2010
Tonight I was called by my friend who is the RA for a dorm on campus. I am both an RA and a Lieutenant for the College EMS and a 911 EMT/FF, so I tend to get these calls on my phone. Note I was off duty, and campus EMS is off duty on this night. I was called because a girl hit her head while skiing today; she had a helmet on, and doesn't think she passed out. 10 hours later, after 2 excedrin she has a 6-7/10 headache.

The RA called me because he wanted no responsibility for a medical issue. These are the cases I hate, because this girl probably was fine but you can bet I told her "I think you should have Security escort you to the ER just in case" because I don't want my name attached to a dead girl.

Seems like I get stuck in these situations a lot. Had I been on duty it wouldn't be so big a deal, but tonight happened to be the one night that I was off duty and the other EMTs were OOS for calls (college has a transport happy policy, so there would be little discretion). What would you have done?


May 21, 2010
SE Wisconsin, USA
Exactly what you did.

"I am unable to diagnose any injury or illness in the field, so it is with my strong recommendation that you seek further medical care. Any means of transport to a hospital by any means other than ambulance may be dangerous. Death or further injury may result from not seeking further medical care."

You should be covered.


May 20, 2010
Centre County, PA
charlie82 said:
What would you have done?

"So this girl hit her head and blah, blah, blah...."


"What do you mean 'and'?"

"I'm off-duty, what do you want me to do about it? This isn't a 911 line, I'm not a doctor who makes house calls, etc..."

Simple.... :-D

If it was such an emergency after 10 hours, she would have called 911. Even if the school squad was out of service, I'm guessing they have a mutual aid agreement with the town/city? If she didn't feel like calling 911 but still wanted to get it checked, call a cab to go to the ER, or have one of her friends drive her....

Sometimes you get a headache after you bump your head...but either way, it's not your responsibility. I'm guessing you don't have an agreement with the school that you provide medical advice to students? Ask your friend to stop calling you for things like this. They're all adults, they SHOULD know when it's appropriate to call 911 and when it's best to use other means.... (yes, I know, I'm putting a HUGE amount of faith in society and especially college kids, ugh!)


May 21, 2010
Thats why I had security escort her down. I chose not to provide any medical advice besides saying that it was up to her, and there could be risks and maybe she should get checked out (nothing more than WebMD would say).

I am just wondering if this falls under the "duty to act" since someone announced that I was indeed an EMT. You know how things could turn out in this day of lawsuits and such.


May 21, 2010
USA Nashville Tennessee
Unless you are on-call for standby, you probably have no duty to act.

And instead of declining to give information, you referred the caller and instructed them to go to the emergency room.

Do not give directions for any aspirin containing pain reliever, (such as the Excedrin!) as these could cause further bleeding. And caution any others against such action.

I disagree with calling 911 in the situation you cited. If the girl could walk and was not nauseated, security or a friend could transport her to the ER, and preferably, to a ER facility with a CT. If nausea or other symptoms were present, then ambulance transport may be justified.

Further caution: In any situations where the patient has a history of diabetes or a prior head injury, they should be referred for examination by a physician or physician-extender (Nurse Practitioner or Physician Assitant)

NPS Ranger

May 21, 2010
Penn's Woods
grfd711 said:
Sounds like the campus needs to provide the RA's with some SOGs.
Exactly. You want to be a BMOC with a free room &/or salary (I got both when I was an RA), then you better be willing to step up to the plate and do your job, not dump it off on someone else. Plus, the school should have provided written guidelines on what the RA's should do when confronted with an emergency or medical-related complaint, and I'm quite sure it would not say to call your cell.


May 23, 2010
Call someone who's available to provide EMS. I, myself, wouldn't have provided any medical advice unless the governing agency was going to give me EMD cards and certify me as such.

"I've been drinking and am not in a position to render such assistance. Call an ambulance if you feel it's necessary."


May 20, 2010
Maryland, USA
Doug said:
"I've been drinking and am not in a position to render such assistance."

Not sure how old you are, but that is what I was thinking. If you want to relieve yourself of any obligation to provide care off duty... that is the golden ticket!

However I think you did the right thing. If this ding dong thinks she needs medical attention so bad, "I've got a number for you to call, do you have a pen so you can write it down? Its 9-1-1"


May 21, 2010
Turns out she had a minor concussion. I found a note with a $25 gift card to Dunkin Donuts in my mailbox today from her. I guess it was worth it.


May 21, 2010
I have been called with LEO related questions, active incident stuff. I always say "I'm not working, call dispatch..."


May 25, 2010

At least your "patient" did the right this afterwards. I believe it is about time you call your "buudy" the fellow RA and give him your alternate contact number with less liability for him.... 911....

In a former life as an EMT, I had the same stuff happen to me, calls from neighbors to family members out of state calling for medical "advice". I usually started with "I am not a doctor, I do not have X-ray vision, so I can make and educated guess on the problem, but I would strongly recommend you see your doctor or go to the ER after we talk."

But then again, I am kind of a dick...




Jun 11, 2010
New York
I've been put in similar situations, I'm also campus EMS and living on campus. God forbid someone gets hurt in my building, I tend to get a call or a knock on the door. If a friend or RA comes to my room to ask me to come take a look at something, I'll go and normally stick to the PC "This is what I see, but I'm not a doctor, and only he can tell you 100%. Get checked out" should it be merited. Better to keep your butt covered, especially with stuff like that where its not all black and white.

But its always good to draw a line with your friends regarding that stuff. I've had a less than brilliant (and, at the time, drunk) friend call 911 for my room mate and kindly include the message "And ask for XXXXX, he knows what's going on." I did not. Fortunately the dispatchers understood the drunken stupidity and gave us a landline to let me know my friend was less than bright. He subsequently learned a valuable lesson in discretion and responsibility :)

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