Secrets The ER Staff Won’t Tell You

african american nurse in an emergency roomWhat’s the worst thing you can say to the nurse in an emergency room? Ever wonder what really happens behind closed curtains in the emergency room? What really goes on in the ER—and on the way there? Below, doctors, nurses and paramedics offer their own insights into the inner workings of hospital emergency rooms. What they reveal could save your life.

THE 411 ON 911

1. “Denial kills people. Yes, you could be having a heart attack or a stroke, even if you’re only 39 or in good shape or a vegetarian.” —Dennis Rowe, paramedic, Knoxville, Tennessee
2. “Don’t call us for a broken finger. If there’s no real emergency, you’ve just clogged up the system.” —Arthur Hsieh, paramedic, San Francisco
3. “Your emergency isn’t necessarily our emergency. In my region, we send an ambulance for all calls, but we don’t use the sirens unless it’s Code 1, which means someone’s bleeding or having chest pain or shortness of breath—basically things you could die from in the next five minutes.” —Connie Meyer, RN, paramedic, Olathe, Kansas