Medicine Between The Frames

One of my favorite bloggers, Seth Godin, recently introduced me to the work of Scott McCloud, an author who’s written several classic books on understanding comic books. Scott dissects the comic medium and explains the ongoing allure of the comic book to the uninitiated.

One of Scott’s observations is that comic books require imagination on the part of the reader because, in all great comic books, the action occurs between the frames. The artist only shows you snapshots of action and dialogue. Most of the story takes place in our heads. The real story is the stuff that we invent that happened in-between the frames.

Medicine works in much the same way. We assess, we ask our questions, we do our head-to-toe and we make a guess (educated) about what’s going on. Then we make a change, and the medicine begins, after we make the change, not before.

Then we do the in-between stuff. Loading the patient on the pram, shoring up the splinting, carrying the bags back and forth, making a phone call to the doc. And the medicine works … or it doesn’t.

And then we start the next frame. The action starts all over, but make no mistake, the medicine happened while we were doing other things. Just off the boarder of the frame.  Between one action and the next, while were busy doing the in-between-stuff, the medicine happens.

Don’t miss it.

Now it’s your turn: Do we forget to focus on the medicine that happens in-between our interventions? Is it important to remember that the medicine happens in-between interventions or is it just a matter of semantics.

Related Articles:

The Art of The Pulse Check

The Art of The Nasopharyngeal Airway

Understanding OPQRST

Beyond the 1-10 Pain Scale

The Ultimate EMS Protocol


  1. I think of it a bit different. These might be the frames.

    Frame 1: patient has emergency
    Frame 2: patient calls 911
    Frame 3: drive/arrive
    Frame 4: EMS
    Frame 5: Hospital

    It is the patient’s story/comic.

  2. Steve Whitehead says:

    Your comic book would be a lot shorter than mine Greg. 😉


  1. […] The month started off with a bang when announced that we were a finalist for the top Fire/EMS blog of 2009. Thanks for the nomination and a big thanks to the hundreds of readers who showed up and voted for us. We took a look back at The Best of 2009. I and a few other EMS bloggers talked about when we should and shouldn’t transport the baby. I told you about the latest in CPR techniques, asked you where you should stage and let slip the secret to getting rich in EMS. We also discussed the rise of the EMT, brotherhood and the art of using trauma shears. Finally, I wrapped up with a comparison of EMS and comic books by explaining that medicine happens between the frames. […]

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