EMS Drugs

As an exercise I rated the 33 drugs I carry in order of their essentialness.

In other words, if every day I had to take one drug off my rig until in the end I only had one left, which drug would I choose each day?

In writing the drug profiles, I tried to imagine I was telling a new preceptee my thoughts and experiences with the various drugs.

Here is the list from most essential to least:

1. Epinephrine
2. Morphine
3. Oxygen
4. Ativan
5. DuoNeb
6. Normal Saline
7. Dextrose
8. Nitroglycerin
9. Narcan
10. Aspirin
11. Amiodarone
12. Atropine
13. Dopamine
14. Zofran
15. Cardizem
16. Adenosine
17. Glucagon
18. Magnesium
19. Benadryl
20. Versed
21. Solu-Medrol
22. Sodium Bicarbonate
23. Calcium
24. Haldol
25. Metoprolol
26. Lidocaine
27. Toradol
28. Activated Charcoal
29. Tylenol
30. Tetracaine
31. Phenergan
32. Vasopressin
33. Lasix


  • Don says:

    Thanks for putting in the effort on this, much appreciated as I am always looking for more experience provider input.

  • mark says:

    Thanks for you work on this. I read this site many times at work just to quiz myself and learn from your experiences.

  • Christina says:

    This is good stuff! Thanks for writing it!

  • michelle says:

    I’m wondering if you’ve come across any reference that talk about the quantity of medications use? Say, are there any statistics on the average number of epinephrine 1:10,000 syringes used in a code situation? There are an increasing amount of drug shortages, mostly for our code tray items. We are looking to determine a minimum, safe quantity to include in the trays. We stock the code tray with 10 syringes. We would like to decrease this to 7 syringes. Do you have any thoughts? Any references you could point me to? Thanks.

  • Karin says:

    Thank you so much for writing this. I am studying to become a paramedic and your short ‘stories’ about the drugs make it so much easier for me to remember them all. Thank you!

  • raymond says:

    Thank you for the list, although I use Zofran and solu-medrol more so I think those would be higher on my list.

  • K says:

    Can you add RSI drugs (vec, roc, sucks, etomidate) these explanations really help me grasp the drugs.

  • Morgan says:

    I am 12 years young and I’m studying drugs for when I’m older I’m very smart and i love to learn new drugs so I study all my time into drugs this is a really good site thank you!!:)

  • Kayley says:

    I’m studying drugs for when I’m a CNA Nurse later in life. This is an awesome site thanks for this AMAZING SITE!!!!!!!!

  • Josh says:

    Great list. I was surprised to see Fentanyl left off the list since it seems to have become the go to prehospital analgesic over Morphine. I have been in EMS for 7 years and a medic for about a year and have seen/given Fentanyl far more often than Morphine for pain.

    • ryan says:

      Yes I think it has far less side effects and is also a better pain controller versus just doping up the patient. It is fully synthetic opioid while morphine is a true opiate, which means very many people are going to be allergic to the morphine and no the fentanyl, ranging from minor issues to anaphylactic responses. So basically porphine is just extracted from poppy plants and coverted into a hcl for administering it, while fentanyl is a chemical made in a lab and better designed to effect the opiate receptors to lessen pain. Still is a habit forming narcotic but its better than morphine in that sense.

  • EmG says:

    You guys all are right for morphine, and fentanyl too. But you are missing the other effects of morphine in pulmonary edema, for example. In our practice we use MONA (morphine, O2, nitroglycerine, aspirine) in MI. Then, bi-phasic effect of morphine (histamino-liberation and possible hypotension followed by vasoconstriction). This eternal analgesic still has it place in the tray.

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