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Emergency workers entering houses

d3jake

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(Wow, this place looks different then when I started here...)

I'm currently training in Minnesota to become a Paramedic. I'm currently an EMT going through my last year of schooling. I got to thinking during my last ride-along shift: My understanding is that in some households, a guest or resident removes his shoes\boots\etc. before entering the rest of the house, and puts on "house slippers", etc. I understand that not all households may follow this, but for those that do:

What is the point at which that's not expected of a guest? Say a family member needs an ambulance, will the responding crew be expected to take precautions, or is it acceptable as it's an emergency situation? Or does it depend completely upon the situation?
 

undrentide

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Not "some" households, but "most" of the households (almost all), you must take off your shoes, even paramedics.
When I called an ambulance for my parents (not once), they all took off shoes when entering our house.
No slippers were offered as they are meant for guests.

The only situation I can think of when people can enter the house without taking off the shoes is when the house is on fire and fire fighters are entering the place to put the fire off.
 

raguna

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Not "some" households, but "most" of the households (almost all), you must take off your shoes, even paramedics.
When I called an ambulance for my parents (not once), they all took off shoes when entering our house.
No slippers were offered as they are meant for guests.

The only situation I can think of when people can enter the house without taking off the shoes is when the house is on fire and fire fighters are entering the place to put the fire off.

Wow, that's kind of ridiculous. What if someone is having a heart attack, or they flatlined and every second counts?
 

undrentide

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Wow, that's kind of ridiculous. What if someone is having a heart attack, or they flatlined and every second counts?

Nothing ridiculous. It took them only a few seconds to take their shoes off.
 

raguna

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Nothing ridiculous. It took them only a few seconds to take their shoes off.
That's true, and in most cases I would understand... but prioritizing surface level politeness over the immediate threat to the life of another human being makes little sense to me. There are times when a few seconds can actually be the difference between life and death. But I'm guessing if firemen are excused, then if someone is dying or have already flatlined then they will also be rushed in without delay?
 

undrentide

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I'm talking from my own experience to give the OP some general idea, and to be very honest, I'm not best pleased to be told what we normally do is "ridiculous".

Well, if paramedics rush into a house without taking off their shoes in case of a real life-or-death emergency case, I do not think anyone would complain about it, though personally I cannot imagine just 2-3 seconds (not 2-3 minutes) makes any difference even in case of a heart attack.

As long as I actually saw, those paramedic people were wearing the type of shoes that are easy to take off/put on, not the heavy boots that fire fighters are wearing. Perhaps you're wearing shoes that you need to loosen lace to take off and have to tighten them when putting them on again? It's just my wild guess, but I'm wondering because I cannot understand why you make such a big deal about taking off the shoes.

When I came home tonight, I tried to see how long it takes me to take off my shoes, and actually it was only a matter of one second, I almost walked into my house while taking off my shoes. (Surely it depends on the type of shoes one is wearing, of course!)

The point of taking off the shoes when entering into a house in Japan, by the way, is NOT being polite. We take off shoes simply because we do not want to bring in any dirt from outside, and more over, walking within a room with shoes on damages the flooring, especially tatami.

What I wrote is nothing but my personal experience, so if you want to obtain more accurate information, how about making an inquiry to FDMA (Fire and Disaster Management Agency) in Japan? They may have some kind of guideline.
FDMA :: Fire and Disaster Management Agency
 

raguna

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Sorry to have called it ridiculous, that was a poor choice of words, and I didn't mean to offend you in any way. I apologize.

But even though you take of your own shoes to not drag dirt into your own home. When you're entering someone else's house you take off your own shoes, to the same effect yes, but out of politeness.. especially if it's a stranger's house. It doesn't really matter to you whether or not there is dirt in their house, but you're being considerate.. you do it out of courtesy.. aka being polite. That's how I interpret it at least.. We take off our shoes in Norway too by the way, with the exception of some students with one room apartments. Given that I haven't had paramedics in my house, I'm not sure if they take off their shoes before entering, maybe they actually do in most cases.

My original problem with the issue was that if someone passes away, and you saw the paramedics spending say.. 5.10 extra seconds taking their shoes off before they help, I could imagine that some people reacting poorly to that. Maybe it's a far fetched scenario as you say.. Andt I guess if it's not a matter of untying laces just throwing them off, then I made too big of a deal of the whole thing. Again I'm sorry.
 

undrentide

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Thank you for apologiging so nicely, maybe I was a bit too harsh to you, I'm sorry about that.

I do know in some European countries it is common to take off shoes (or rather, changing the shoes) when entering houses, yet I think the situation is different from Japan.

In Europe in some (or many) households may ask you to take off your shoes when entering, but it is more like out of consideration and politeness, and it is possible to enter without taking off shoes, depending on the situation. In most cases (at least judging from what I know) there's almost no level difference of floors at the entrance, mostly a threashold is deviding the inside and outside of the house.

In Japan, 'inside' and 'outside' of the house are far more strictly devided, usually the level of the floor of the house is much higher than the outside. In very old, traditional Japanese house, the difference can be something like 30cm or more (in that case there's a stepping stone to make it easier), and in modern houses the difference is much smaller , ranging from 10-15cm to less.
And one is never allowed to enter the house with any shoes on, only burglars would go into a house with their shoes on.

These are not the best examples but you may find some idea of entrance of Japanese houses from the images:
玄関 - Google Search
 

raguna

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I lived at my friends house for a few days when I went to Japan 2 years ago, and it was a standard Japanese house with the difference of about 20 cm. Even in my apartment I had a small square right inside the door that had the same function that was maybe 10 cms lower than the rest of the floor... so I know what you mean. :)

In other European countries that might be true, but in Norway unless you are specifically told to wear the shoes inside, no one would wear them in. In almost all cases there is an entryway where you leave the shoes, although there is rarely any height difference between the entryway and the rest of the floor. But because of possible snowfall, almost all houses have a stairway of about 1-2m up to the door and the first floor, if that makes sense?

But in Norway you don't change shoes, or wear slippers(sometimes in winter), for the most part you just walk around in your socks when inside the house.

I have worn my shoes inside 2 apartments in Norway (because I was told to), and both were student 1 room apartments.. although most students as well won't allow this.
 

Glenski

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My original problem with the issue was that if someone passes away, and you saw the paramedics spending say.. 5.10 extra seconds taking their shoes off
You don't realize that it doesn't even take that long here. Like undrentide wrote it's only 2-3 seconds max.

because of possible snowfall, almost all houses have a stairway of about 1-2m up to the door and the first floor, if that makes sense?

But in Norway you don't change shoes, or wear slippers(sometimes in winter), for the most part you just walk around in your socks when inside the house.
So, in Norway, then, they take far longer to slip off their shoes than in Japan. Japanese homes have a "step" in their entryway only 3 inches high, usually, by the way.

I have worn my shoes inside 2 apartments in Norway (because I was told to), and both were student 1 room apartments.. although most students as well won't allow this.
So, those students are compromising the life of the person you came to save, then. One might ask how you deal with that delay.
 

raguna

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You don't realize that it doesn't even take that long here. Like undrentide wrote it's only 2-3 seconds max.

So, in Norway, then, they take far longer to slip off their shoes than in Japan. Japanese homes have a "step" in their entryway only 3 inches high, usually, by the way.

So, those students are compromising the life of the person you came to save, then. One might ask how you deal with that delay.
It really depends from shoe to shoe and person to person. During winter laced up leather boots and other winter wear is very common, and to take those off, you often need to not only untie, but loosen up the threads as well.. which can take over 10 seconds. I was just surprised that in the context of someone's life being in danger, they take the time to take their shoes off. I even mention what you said in the reply. But there is the matter of putting them back on as well. It is one of those cases where it is 99.999999999999% chance of it not having any adverse affect.. but it surprised me..

I already know about the "step"... I even referred to there not being one in Norwegian houses.

I am not sure what you mean by the last sentence... if you are referring to the delay of being told to keep your shoes on, I doubt it would take longer than taking shoes on and off during the process.
 

letianchen

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Rather than the actual time it takes, it seems kind of bad if the actual thought process of someone going in to such a situation was to take off there shoes. If it is natural so be it, but to go out of your way and actually put your shoes there simply out of "Ah right I forgot to take off my shoes" in a life or death situation seems kind of a bad priority.

Mind you guys about any culture does the same to be honest I might not even call it culture people do this generally just to prevent keeping dirt and such out of there house. I have not been in too many peoples houses where they don't take there shoes off before going inside, but whenever I am in a rush regardless of the time it takes to put on/ take off shoes, this isn't my priority, nor do I think it should be.

If we were to get technical I can see problems occurring in situations where you don't have shoes on, rather then when you do. So in such a situation why not just wear shoes? Chances are it may not make a difference, but why take the slight possibility that it could?
 

undrentide

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As I mentioned earlier, "if paramedics rush into a house without taking off their shoes in case of a real life-or-death emergency case, I do not think anyone would complain about it".

What I would like to point out is that in ordinary Japanese houses it is not an option to enter with the shoes on.
The mental threshold for entering houses with shoes on is much higher, i.e. people do feel hesitant to go in with their shoes on even told to do so - under normal circumstances. It does not mean people never enter the house with their shoes, but the chance is very limited.
It is like breaking into a house, smashing the window glass or breaking the door - in a real emergency case, people of course would not hesitate to do so, and when they can wait, people try to avoid to do so as long as possible.
 

Tamayo

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What I would like to point out is that in ordinary Japanese houses it is not an option to enter with the shoes on.
The mental threshold for entering houses with shoes on is much higher, i.e. people do feel hesitant to go in with their shoes on even told to do so - under normal circumstances.

It's actually really interesting that you would say that. I can't remember with certainty whether it WAS from my book called 36 Views of Mount Fiji, but I remember the author (who was Canadian/American) making the observation that the front room where one takes their shoes off seems to be a lot deeper and more important than just to avoid getting the house dirty. I can't remember all of what she said exactly, but she did mention something to the effect of it being a mental barrier, especially so since Japanese people have lived their entire lives knowing not to enter a house with their shoes on.

Even despite any depth that I myself can't see, It's totally understandable that I'd be really uneasy doing something that I've been taught not to do, and have really never done in my life. Going into a women's (or the men's, if you're a woman) bathroom is something that comes to mind. It just isn't.. right, you know?
 
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thomas

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What I would like to point out is that in ordinary Japanese houses it is not an option to enter with the shoes on.
The mental threshold for entering houses with shoes on is much higher, i.e. people do feel hesitant to go in with their shoes on even told to do so - under normal circumstances. It does not mean people never enter the house with their shoes, but the chance is very limited.

We had a service worker from Tokyo Gas visiting our house today. While not formally a guest, we had prepared slippers for him and were totally surprised when he produced his own orange-coloured pair of slippers, fully adorned with company name and logo! I wish I had taken a photo.
 

Glenski

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Moving company workers do the same thing in my experience, and they are very good/fast at switching them during the process of carrying goods outside and inside.
 
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