Going to the hospital can cause plenty of stress and anxiety, going to the hospital in an ambulance can send stress levels through the roof. But is an ambulance ride really anything to worry about?
It's the sound of emergency. We've probably all seen an ambulance scream down the street, but what actually goes on inside these vehicles?
"A lot of people have the perception of that we're just ambulance drivers and that's all we do is drive people. We don't, we've got a lot of technology and we carry a lot of medications, we treat a lot of different emergent situations at the patient's side wherever they're at." Said Scott Christensen, a paramedic with Sioux Falls Rural Metro.
Whether it's a car accident or a heart attack, paramedics are often the first line of care. Many times for those in need it can be a frightening experience.
"They have to be able to trust you as soon as you walk up to them and to do that with strangers is a difficult process for some people." Said Christensen.
But not for me, I've never been inside an ambulance. So I jumped on the gurney to get a better perspective.
"Now in the real thing we would have the monitor hooked up with the heart rhythm there, we would probably have oxygen connected and probably have an IV hanging." Said Christensen.
Obviously there is nothing wrong with me but if there was, a paramedic would continue to treat me until we reached the hospital. The main goal is to stabilize a patient, but when it comes to issues with your heart an ambulance can be extremely critical.
"We give them some pain medications oxygen we put the heart monitor on so that we can tell if they're really having a heart attack or not and that we notify the hospital right away so that they know and they can be prepared to treat the patient as soon as they come through the doors." Said Christensen.
In a heart attack time is muscle, so the faster you can get to the hospital the less damage to your heart. But that doesn't mean you or a loved one should drive you there.
"It's bad advice because they could go unconscious the person doing the driving also doesn't have the treatment or the training to provide the treatment to that patient at the time that they might need it." Said Christensen.
During any type of emergency situation there is bound to be plenty of anxiety. While paramedics treat the injury they also have to do their best to calm fears.
"Sometimes time is a factor and you can't explain everything but we try let the patients know what we're doing like we're gonna give you some oxygen we think you might be having a heart attack." Said Christensen.
There are plenty of unknowns when paramedics respond to a scene, but if you were expecting a wild ambulance ride with people screaming, "Don't die on me!" That's just a little too much Hollywood.
"No! That is a bit dramatic, we're not all about drama!" Said Christensen.
According to the CDC only about 1 in 4 people recognize heart attack symptoms and call 911. Which could explain why half of all heart disease deaths occur before people get to the hospital. For more information about emergency responders just call 877-AT-AVERA.