Why Don't Paramedics Run to Emergency Patients?

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iStock

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.

Does the Full Moon Really Make People Act Crazy?

iStock.com/voraorn
iStock.com/voraorn

Along with Mercury in retrograde, the full moon is a pretty popular scapegoat for bad luck and bizarre behavior. Encounter someone acting strangely? Blame it on the lunar phases! It's said that crime rates increase and emergency rooms are much busier during the full moon (though a 2004 study debunked this claim). Plus, there's that whole werewolf thing. Why would this be? The reasoning is that the Moon, which affects the ocean's tides, probably exerts a similar effect on us, because the human body is made mostly of water.

This belief that the Moon influences behavior is so widely held—reportedly, even 80 percent of nurses and 64 percent of doctors think it's true, according to a 1987 paper published in the Journal of Emergency Medicine [PDF]—that in 2012 a team of researchers at Université Laval's School of Psychology in Canada decided to find out if mental illness and the phases of the Moon are linked [PDF].

To test the theory, the researchers evaluated 771 patients who visited emergency rooms at two hospitals in Montreal between March 2005 and April 2008. The patients chosen complained of chest pains, which doctors could not determine a medical cause for the pains. Many of the patients suffered from panic attacks, anxiety and mood disorders, or suicidal thoughts.

When the researchers compared the time of the visits to the phases of the Moon, they found that there was no link between the incidence of psychological problems and the four lunar phases, with one exception—in the last lunar quarter, anxiety disorders were 32 percent less frequent. "This may be coincidental or due to factors we did not take into account," Dr. Geneviève Belleville, who directed the team of researchers, said. "But one thing is certain: we observed no full-moon or new-moon effect on psychological problems."

So rest easy (or maybe not): If people seem to act crazy during the full Moon, their behavior is likely pretty similar during the rest of the lunar cycle as well.

This story was updated in 2019.

What's the Difference Between a Rabbit and a Hare?

iStock.com/Carmen Romero
iStock.com/Carmen Romero

Hippity, hoppity, Easter's on its way—and so is the eponymous Easter bunny. But aside from being a magical, candy-carrying creature, what exactly is Peter Cottontail: bunny, rabbit, or hare? Or are they all just synonyms for the same adorable animal?

In case you've been getting your fluffy, long-eared mammals mixed up, we've traveled down the rabbit hole to set the record straight. Although rabbits and hares belong to the same grass-munching family—called Leporidae—they're entirely different species with unique characteristics. It would be like comparing sheep and goats, geneticist Steven Lukefahr of Texas A&M University told National Geographic.

If you aren't sure which animal has been hopping around and helping themselves to the goodies in your vegetable garden, take a closer look at their ears. In general, hares have longer ears and larger bodies than rabbits. Rabbits also tend to be more social creatures, while hares prefer to keep to themselves.

As for the baby animals, they go by different names as well. Baby hares are called leverets, while newborn rabbits are called kittens or kits. So where exactly do bunnies fit into this narrative? Originally, the word bunny was used as a term of endearment for a young girl, but its meaning has evolved over time. Bunny is now a cutesy, childlike way to refer to both rabbits and hares—although it's more commonly associated with rabbits these days. With that said, the Easter bunny is usually depicted as a rabbit, but the tradition is thought to have originated with German immigrants who brought their legend of an egg-laying hare called "Osterhase" to America.

In other ambiguous animal news, the case of Bugs Bunny is a little more complicated. According to scientist and YouTuber Nick Uhas, the character's long ears, fast speed, and solitary nature seem to suggest he's a hare. However, in the cartoon, Bugs is shown burrowing underground, which doesn't jive with the fact that hares—unlike most rabbits—live aboveground. "We can draw the conclusion that Bugs may be a rabbit with hare-like behavior or a hare with rabbit nesting habits," Uhas says.

The conversation gets even more confusing when you throw jackrabbits into the mix, which aren't actually rabbits at all. Jackrabbits are various species of large hare that are native to western North America; the name itself is a shortened version of "jackass rabbit," which refers to the fact that the animal's ears look a little like a donkey's.

A jackrabbit
Connor Mah, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

As Mark Twain once famously wrote about the creature, "He is just like any other rabbit, except that he is from one-third to twice as large, has longer legs in proportion to his size, and has the most preposterous ears that ever were mounted on any creature but the jackass." (Fun fact: Black-tailed jackrabbits' extra-long ears actually help them stay cool in the desert. The blood vessels in their ears enlarge when it gets hot, causing blood to flow to their ears and ridding their bodies of excess heat.)

Rabbits, hares, and jackrabbits all have one thing in common, though: They love a good salad. So if you happen across one of these hopping creatures, give them some grass or weeds—and skip the carrots. Bugs Bunny may have loved the orange vegetable, but most hares and rabbits would prefer leafy greens.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, send it to bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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