Amid the unfolding tragedy of four deaths on a ride at Dreamworld on Tuesday, an ambulance officer's seemingly heartless description of the victims' injuries had social media in uproar.
But seasoned paramedic Gavin Fuller, facing the media just two hours after no doubt one of the most traumatic scenes of his career, was merely using a widely used medical term when he described the four victims as having suffered "injuries incompatible with life".
It caused a social media maelstrom, with many attacking the Gold Coast's acting supervising officer - and the media for reporting it - for a seemingly cold description so soon after four deaths.
Why ambulance and police officers use phrases like "sustained injuries incompatible with life" is beyond me.
Such cold, impersonal language— Mark Ludlow (@M_Ludlow) October 25, 2016
I also can't believe the journalism around the tragic event. These poor families. "Injuries incompatible with life" - what? And "The dead" ? pic.twitter.com/0fVjeAKYJt— Ruby Rose (@RubyRose) October 25, 2016
But the clearly shaken, senior officer, facing a live national television cross fresh from leaving the grisly scene, was using a clinical term commonly used by medical professionals, police and other emergency services.
Unknown to many was that the term gave a sad insight into the extent of the injuries the victims suffered.
If you were wondering about that somewhat heartless-sounding "injuries incompatible with life" term, it's a technical one. pic.twitter.com/ymSQJkYBHX— Philip Calder (@philipjcalder) October 25, 2016
When injuries are deemed by paramedics to be so severe that they are "incompatible with life", CPR is deemed a futile exercise.
The Queensland Ambulance Service official clinical practice guidelines for resuscitation outline a number of instances in which CPR should not be attempted.
They include where the patient has sustained injuries that are "totally incompatible with life".
According to the document, such injuries include decapitation, cranial and cerebral destruction, hemicorporectomy (where the body is amputated below the waist), incineration or foetal maceration (foetal death).
Many social media users rushed to defend Mr Fuller's use of the term on live television.
Issues with media coverage so far 1."incompatible with life" is a medical phrase, not #Dreamworld responders being dismissive of tragedy.— Epiphanater (@epiphanater) October 25, 2016
Earlier, Queensland Police Service Assistant Commissioner Brian Codd said emergency services who rushed to Dreamworld following the incident had been left badly shaken by the scene that confronted them.