Ban That Ringtone!

Like many Emergency Departments, we have a batphone. New York City EMS will (usually!) give us a ringdown when there’s a critically ill or trauma patient en route, with a few mixed in “Ooops, wrong number” calls. Ever since I started residency my ears quickly perked up at the sound of the tone, even before the overhead page “GREEN TEAM TO THE TRAUMA ROOM ETA TWO MINUTES” screams through the department. I know pretty immediately that I need to wrap up whatever I’m doing, if possible. I’m Mr. Airway.

And that, my friends, is why this evil, evil ringtone needs to go:
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Yes, mostly iPhone users are to blame (even some of my beloved attendings use it as their ringtone), but really, it’s got to stop. A female friend once said that “All men are dogs;” I think if she was referring to the Pavlovian type, she’s probably right. Stimulus, response.

RINGRINGRINGRINGRIIIING! In a coffee shop: Ohmygodwhere’sthe–oh, wait, nevermind.
RINGRINGRINGRINGRIIIING! In an airport terminal with an old style phone: Calm, calm, you’re not at the hospital.

So please, PLEASE, people who are in an Emergency Department (who okay, probably, technically, shouldn’t even be using their cellphones to begin with): get a new ringtone. My peptic ulcer will thank you.

(One of my favorite sites,, has a ton of song ringtones for free download, or you can even create your own by uploading your favorite song!)

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  1. #1 by JR - January 14th, 2010 at 13:40

    Very true Graham! My immediate response is the go the the bathroom quickly before they arrive. BTW, that is my ringtone, only so I can evoke that exact response in the residents!

  2. #2 by ACC - January 14th, 2010 at 18:14

    I can relate! The EMS tone on our radio is the same as the tone was for a pedi code at my medical school. It took MONTHS for me to not start running towards the pedi trauma room whenever I heard it!

  3. #3 by Jessica - January 14th, 2010 at 20:25

    I know what you mean. In our hospital whenever they do a page to the entire hospital its three tones followed by someone speaking. Usually its a trauma or a code but often its a fire alert or housekeeping. But whenever the three tones start every doctor in teh hospital simultaneously pauses. Its pretty funny.

  4. #4 by rlbates - January 15th, 2010 at 08:56

    That’s my ring tone! It’s how I can tell my phone from those around me who have songs, etc. Never realized I was giving anyone’s ulcer problems. 🙂

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