Colorblindness and becoming a medic?


Forum Captain
So, I just had another post but I got another question, will my color defiency stop me from becoming a medic? I can see colors if you were to point them out, but in the dot test (where you have to say the number) I can't pass at all. Do they test for this for AMR or other private companies for a paramedic position?


Forum Troll
It's gonna depend on the company. For my company in SoCal all employees have to have an ambulance drivers certificate thru the DMV. One of the tests that is done is a color blindness test.

Hopefully all your patients don't get a 14G IV cath...


Forum Chief
In NM and TX most places you need to have a DOT physical card. Those do a dot test and they must be passed to get it.


Forum Captain
I see, I have my ambulance drivers certificate and they never tested me but I heard from a friend that tested with LA city fire that he didn't pass because he failed the color test...and because of meds and catheters being color coded us was a liability


Forum Crew Member
In the US, you are entitled to reasonable accommodation under the Americans With Disabilities act.

Almost all the stuff I have seen on the ambulance which is identified by colors is also identified by numbers and/or words and if they aren't, there are reasonable alternatives available. For example, you can get proper triage tags or triage tape which not only has the colors but the words deceased/minor/delayed/immediate printed on it in place of unprinted colored triage tape. Needles, I/O drills, airways, broselow tape/bags, etc.

One exception is the colorimetric CO2 indicator for airways adjuncts. You can always use a decent patient monitor with real capnography or use a pocket RGB colorimeter with the crude CO2 indicator. Here is a random example of the type of colorimeter which can be used.

You can also get android apps that will do colorimetry using the built in camera.
LedScope is a primitive (hue only) one that converts to an angle.
Another, ColorMeter Free, gives you RGB values:
Another also gives color names:
And this one understands the CIE chromaticity diagram which is used by professionals in stage lighting,computer graphics, and other fields to understand color:
There is also an app, dankam, that helps the colorblind see colors in an image by shifting the colors to ones that can be distinguished.
One could also write an app that would flash the red, green, and blue planes of the camera image in sequence.
Daltonizer is one of several apps that does the opposite, it makes regular people color blind:

Likewise, skin color, stool color, sputum, blood, and emesis can be measured with a colorimeter.

There are also colormax, oxy-iso, enchroma, and x-chrome glasses which shift the colors enough that some colors which were previously indistinguisable can be distinguished, though perhaps at the expense of other colors.


Working Bum
I see, I have my ambulance drivers certificate and they never tested me but I heard from a friend that tested with LA city fire that he didn't pass because he failed the color test...and because of meds and catheters being color coded us was a liability
That is an excuse for lazy medics. You should never pick something up because of color. Read the label. Colors change all the time.


Forum Lieutenant
I know of color blind trama surgeon's so I think it should not be an issue. As stated above using ADA can help however EMS agencies can have exceptions to ADA law being the line of work. Worse comes to worse just means you cant drive an ambulance and being your going Medic you haven't worry being your assinged your very own EMT chauffeur.


Forum Ride Along
Justin, I am color blind(red/green)and I have worked at multiple providers(private and public)and never had a problem.I have a California Ambulance DL and California medical exam cert(green card-or so they tell me,lol).I do not stop and green lights and run through red lights(unless it is middle of the night and no one is around :). In California you just have to be able to distinguish red from green-they can show you several colors and you tell them what is what.Color blindness is actually quite common with males(more than females)and red/green is the most common color issue.I could not be an airline pilot because of my issue,but I do paramedic no problem.If you have SEVERE color blindness and can't differentiate colors at all that COULD be an issue-but that condition is extremely rare.I was taught to read so I don't think I have ever given the "wrong" color iv catheter-besides I go by size so color wouldn't matter(and different medical supplies companies use different colors sometimes for the same product.BTW,my father was a decorated military aviator AND flew commercial aircraft(up to the 747)and he had problems with those stupid cv test-so he just memorized the numbers in the book for years and he never crashed any planes....or did he??? :)