Special Report: A Night in the E.R.
We see romance and mysterious cases on hospital TV dramas like Grey's Anatomy and House, but where is the line of reality drawn when it comes to TV and true life?
"Some of the unique or chaotic situations: Yeah. And that's almost on a daily basis. There's something going on all the time," says Director of Phoebe's Emergency Center Todd Braswell.
Hospital employees say 54,000 people a year go through the doors of Phoebe's Emergency Center. It all starts with the EMS paramedics: EMS receives numerous calls their three straight 24-hour shifts say it can get interesting. They say they go out almost every half an hour.
"It gets long sometimes. Sometimes you get a little bit of sleep but generally two to four hours max," says Hayward Allen, Asst. Supervisor and Paramedic for Dougherty County EMS. "Christmas night we had so many calls, I was supervisor that night, I had to take a supervisor truck and go standby at a scene evaluating the patient before I could get a truck to get them to the hospital."
Paramedics say they see every kind of case as do so do the nurses and doctors in the Emergency Room.
"Every emergency room in the United States sees everything," says Registered Nurse Constance Davis. "It ranges from upper respiratory symptoms like the cold, congestion, cough up to cardiac arrest, trauma, gunshot wounds."
But those gunshots wounds cause false impressions of emergency rooms to the public, employees say.
"I think one of the biggest misconceptions is that we spend our entire shift taking care of people who have been shot and stabbed. That's not all that comes to an ER: We take care of people that have sore throats, we take care of people who have high blood pressure." says Braswell.
Braswell say many patients the Emergency Room sees could not visit a physician or are "not compliant with their own physician's recommendations."
"It's just the situation of the economy. Some people have nowhere else to go. They have to come to us if they have no other options," says Davis.
As for all those romances between doctors, nurses and interns on TV shows, in the real emergency room there is more friendly fellowship than romantic rendezvous, with the exception of one couple.
"Off the top of my head, the husband and wife both work within the department together," says Davis. "But you would never know they were married just to see them working together because they maintain such a professional working relationship."
Braswell says the emergency room employees are like family.
"I don't think there's a lot of personal relationships but we're all friends," Braswell says. "When you spend as much time with each other as we do in this kind of environment, very emotional, very crisis-driven, you get very attached to the people you work with."
And one similarity hospital TV dramas and real emergency rooms have in common: anticipation for the next episode.
"You've got to be anticipating. You've got to be thinking ahead: What's the next thing that's going to happen, what's the next thing I'm going to need to do?" says Braswell.