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Why Don't Paramedics Run to Emergency Patients?

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Why don't paramedics run to emergency patients?

Ross Cohen:

I’m glad you asked, because I promise you it’s not due to a lack of concern. It’s actually perfectly logical when you see it from our point of view …

3 MAIN REASONS

  1. Running is risky. If we trip, fall, [and] get hurt—now there’s two patients.
  2. Running to a patient prevents us from spotting hazards on the way in. Remember, we’re walking into an unknown. We must carefully observe and assess for danger. On the walk in, we’ll notice the downed power lines, the room full of people passed out from a gas leak, the dog protecting its injured owner, the hoarder’s junk on the floor when we round the corner, the attacker who assaulted the victim, the weapon lying next to the bystander, etc.
  3. Running makes it harder to keep our cool and operate at peak effectiveness. We need to be the calmest person in the room. Everyone takes their cues from us. We need to think clearly and act deliberately, decisively, expeditiously, [and] smoothly. It’s hard to do that if your own heart is beating out of your chest, you’re breathing heavily, and visibly excited. It takes mental discipline to restrain our own excitement and concern to work professionally and unemotionally in scary situations and adding significant physical exertion to an already stressful situation is not helpful.

5 LESSER REASONS

  1. If the patient sees us running toward them, they may become even more distressed. Our demeanor can be either a calming or aggravating influence.
  2. We’re carrying equipment: stretchers, chairs, oversized bags, expensive EKG monitors, etc. Some of these things we can barely walk with, let alone run.
  3. It doesn’t actually save much time. If we parked far away, which is rare, we’ll be quite out of breath running a long distance with our equipment and have that much more opportunity to get hurt. If we parked close by as we usually do, we might shave at most a few seconds off our arrival time, which would not matter in 99.99 percent of cases.
  4. If you run on every call of every shift, across every street, down every driveway, up every flight of stairs, through every hallway … it’s just a matter of time before you twist an ankle, bang a knee, split a lip, fall down stairs, etc. I’ve known many EMTs who have gotten hurt and/or split their pants or something and that’s without running. We’re not professional athletes in tip top shape; injuries happen enough as it is and running would only add to it.
  5. We work on highways and highrises. We work in backyards and backwoods. We’re in people’s messy bedrooms and cramped basements. We climb stairwells and traverse steep inclines. We work in the rain, the heat, the cold, and everything in between. Running just makes all these things harder.

Those are some of the reasons we don’t run. The only real reason to run is that people would stop assuming a lack of urgency/concern when we merely walk briskly toward them. Trust us, it’s way better for all involved if we avoid running.

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Big Questions
Why Is a Pineapple Called a Pineapple?
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by James Hunt

Ask an English-speaking person whether they've heard of a pineapple, and you'll probably receive little more than a puzzled look. Surely, every schoolchild has heard of this distinctive tropical fruit—if not in its capacity as produce, then as a dessert ring, or smoothie ingredient, or essential component of a Hawaiian pizza.

But ask an English-speaking person if they've ever heard of the ananas fruit and you'll probably get similarly puzzled looks, but for the opposite reason. The average English speaker has no clue what an ananas is—even though it's the name given to the pineapple in almost every other major global language.

In Arabic, German, French, Dutch, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Swedish, Turkish—even in Latin and Esperanto—the pineapple is known as an ananas, give or take local variations in the alphabet and accents. In the languages where it isn't, it's often because the word has been imported from English, such as in the case of the Japanese パイナップル (painappuru) and the Welsh pinafel.

So how is it that English managed to pick the wrong side in this fight so spectacularly? Would not a pineapple, by any other name, taste as weird and tingly?

To figure out where things went wrong for English as a language, we have to go back and look at how Europeans first encountered the fruit in question, which is native to South America. It was first catalogued by Columbus's expedition to Guadeloupe in 1493, and they called it piña de Indes, meaning "pine of the Indians"—not because the plant resembled a pine tree (it doesn't) but because they thought the fruit looked like a pine cone (umm, ... it still doesn't. But you can sort of see it.)

Columbus was on a Spanish mission and, dutifully, the Spanish still use the shortened form piñas to describe the fruit. But almost every other European language (including Portuguese, Columbus's native tongue) decided to stick with the name given to the fruit by the indigenous Tupí people of South America: ananas, which means "excellent fruit."

According to etymological sources, the English word pineapple was first applied to the fruit in 1664, but that didn't end the great pineapple versus ananas debate. Even as late as the 19th century, there are examples of both forms in concurrent use within the English language; for example, in the title of Thomas Baldwin's Short Practical Directions For The Culture Of The Ananas; Or Pine Apple Plant, which was published in 1813.

So given that we knew what both words meant, why didn't English speakers just let go of this illogical and unhelpful linguistic distinction? The ultimate reason may be: We just think our own language is better than everyone else's.

You see, pineapple was already an English word before it was applied to the fruit. First used in 1398, it was originally used to describe what we now call pine cones. Hilariously, the term pine cones wasn't recorded until 1694, suggesting that the application of pineapple to the ananas fruit probably meant that people had to find an alternative to avoid confusion. And while ananas hung around on the periphery of the language for a time, when given a choice between using a local word and a foreign, imported one, the English went with the former so often that the latter essentially died out.

Of course, it's not too late to change our minds. If you want to ask for ananas the next time you order a pizza, give it a try (though we can't say what you'd up with as a result).

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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Big Questions
Why Do They Build Oil Rigs in the Middle of the Ocean?
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Ryan Carlyle:

We put the rigs where the oil is!

There aren’t any rigs in the “middle” of the ocean, but it is fairly common to find major oilfields over 150 km off the coast. This happens because:

  • Shallow seas often had the correct conditions for oil formation millions of years ago. Specifically, something like an algae bloom has to die and sink into oxygen-free conditions on the sea floor, then that organic material gets buried and converted to rock over geologic time.
  • The continental shelf downstream of a major river delta is a great place for deposition of loose, sandy sediments that make good oil reservoir rocks.

These two types of rock—organic-rich source rock and permeable reservoir rock—must be deposited in the correct order in the same place for there to be economically viable oil reservoirs. Sometimes, we find ancient shallow seas (or lakes) on dry land. Sometimes, we find them underneath modern seas. In that latter case, you get underwater oil and offshore oil rigs.

In the “middle” of the ocean, the seafloor is primarily basaltic crust generated by volcanic activity at the mid-ocean ridge. There’s no source of sufficient organic material for oil source rock or high-permeability sandstone for reservoir rock. So there is no oil. Which is fine, because the water is too deep to be very practical to drill on the sea floor anyway. (Possible, but not practical.)

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

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