I rank Calcium 23 out of 33 drugs I carry.

I don’t use calcium very much, but there is one situation I always reach for it in — cardiac arrest in a diaylsis patient. While we don’t have labs in the field, a dialysis patient is a possible bet to be hypocalcemic and/or hyperkalemic, and calcium can save lives if they are. We can also consider calcium in the setting of calcium channel blocker overdose.

I can’t claim any arrest saves using it, but I have had quite a number of return of spontaneous circulation and hospital admissions after I have used it.

We can also use calcium for symptomatic bradycardia due to suspected calcium channel blocker overdose with medical control orders. I have never used it for this.


Calcium Chloride

Class: Electrolyte

Action: Facilitates the actin/myosin interaction in the heart muscle.

Indication: Hypocalcemia
Hyperkalemia with arrhythmia
Calcium channel blocker intoxication with hypotension or symptomatic bradycardia

Contraindication: Not to be mixed with any other medication – precipitates easily.

Precaution: Patients receiving calcium need cardiac monitoring

Side effect: Cardiac arrhythmias
Precipitation of digitalis toxicity

Dose: Usual dose is 5-10ml of 10% Calcium Chloride in 10ml.

Route: IV

Pedi Dose: 0.2ml/kg of 10% concentration


Here’s an excerpt from my novel, Mortal Men, that includes a call where Calcium is used:

“The real rivalry between Troy and Ben started the day Sidney coded,” Joel said. “Sidney Seuss — he’s the guy in the portrait in the front office. He founded the place. A real old time ambulance man. He was just getting ready to start his dialysis treatment – he had his own machine in his office – when he crumpled to the ground. His secretary screams. When Ben gets there, he sees Sidney lying on the carpet. He’s blue. No breathing, no pulse. Ben rips Sidney’s shirt open, puts the paddles on his chest. He’s in v-fib. He shocks him. 200 Joules. No change. Shocks him again. 300 Joules. Nothing. 360. Nothing.

“The secretary starts CPR while Ben goes for the airway. Sidney’s a big broad guy with no neck. A difficult tube. Ben’s looking down into his throat, trying to move his tongue out of the way. He sees the chords for a moment, passes the tube. Puke comes up. He’s in the esophagus.

“That’s when Troy and I come in,” Victor said. “We’d been in the office resupplying. Troy sidesteps the puke, and while Ben tries again, Troy slams an IV in Sidney’s arm. Ben’s still struggling with the tube, Troy says, ‘Let me try.’ He takes the scope from him. Then like that — ‘I’m in,’ he says. Ben pushes epi and lidocaine into the IV line. They shock him again 360 joules. No change.

“’Calcium,’ Troy says.

“‘Calcium?’ Ben says. We carry it, but it’s not in the routine protocol.

“‘Calcium. His kidneys suck.’

“Ben goes ahead and gives it to him. They shock him again.

“Ben looks at the monitor — sees a rhythm. You don’t have to feel a pulse. You can just look at his neck and see it pounding.

“Then Sidney opens his eyes and he’s looking right up at Troy. He looks a little confused like maybe he was expecting to see Satan or St. Peter. Instead Troy Johnson is the one grinning at him.

“‘Afternoon, boss,’ Troy says. ‘I see I’m not the only slacker around this place likes to get in a good snooze.’

“Troy was the golden boy after that. Sidney gave Troy his own dedicated ambulance, his own shift whatever hours he wanted to work, and let him pick whatever partner he wanted. Told the dispatchers no transfers for Troy. They have to leave him free for the big bad ones. The Deputy mayor coded. Troy saved him. One of the high-ranking police brass coded. Troy brought him back to life. Head of the chamber of commerce choked on a piece of meat the size of his fist; Troy yanked it out with a pair of McGill’s. The guy was well enough to give the after dinner speech.

“Every save Troy got, Sidney made a show of visiting the patient in the hospital, and bringing a photographer along. Ben wasn’t happy about it — that and the fact every time Sidney saw Ben and Troy together he ribbed Ben about it. ‘Good, I got my bodyguard here to keep my chief paramedic from killing me.’ The truth is we got some good publicity in those days. We were miracle workers. The pride of the city. Paramedics. We were all like Johnny and Roy on that old Emergency show. You could walk tall.”

“Not any more?”

“No, that’s the past. Sidney’s dead. Things are changing for the worse. They don’t get better, we could be out of business. We could all be looking for jobs. So you can understand why no one’s happy.”


  • I’m really, really enjoying the series you have going on all of these EMS medications. I’ve read every one of them. You’re a great writer and I hope that you combine all of these into a series when you’re done with this. Great stuff.

    You need to add a Tweet Meme button and a Share to Facebook button. I’ve been tweeting your stuff, but one click is easier than 10. Please?

  • medicscribe says:

    Thanks CKemtp-

    I’m not certain I know how to add those buttons. Are they in the widget section?

    Thanks for the help,


  • Kel says:

    love this series too ^___^

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Peter Canning

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  • Comments
    Assembly Line
    Two of my major hospitals now employ scribes that accompany their assigned MD all day for the sole purpose of recording their H&P with the patient. It not only makes the doctor/patient interaction more... interactive, but since all the scribes have to worry about is documentation and not patient care, the reimbursements for the doctor's…
    2015-08-26 19:17:52
    Patricia Landmesser
    Patient Follow-up
    I agree with these two... thank you for writing. Your work is inspirational, entertaining and down-to-earth informative. Seems it should be a must read for any who are interested in the EMS field. Many Thanks!
    2015-08-22 11:24:54
    Patient Follow-up
    I just want to thank you for doing what you do. Your book "Rescue 471" is what inspired me to start my career in EMS. I am currently 16 and working for an urban ambulance service as an EMR, and your blog has been really insightful into skills and knowledge that any healthcare provider should…
    2015-08-18 05:38:41
    Patient Follow-up
    You're absolutely right. We don't grow if we don't see the outcomes of our work. ...Or at least, we're less likely to grow in the right direction. You're in a pretty good spot to change some of this in your hospital job. Why not set up a system where paramedics can flag patients they'd be…
    2015-08-04 19:07:22
    Jon Kavanagh
    #1 Pain Management and Comfort Care
    We comfort and take care of pain when we remember that the patient is a person. A touch on the hand or shoulder, a compassion for his situation, a desire to do the right thing (vs the easy)... We need to be actively turning his bad day into something less lousy, even when the solution…
    2015-07-20 15:54:14

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