Monday, October 20, 2008

Profanity, too

Thanks to Sam over at On the Clock for getting me thinking about this topic.

I curse as well at midnight-thirty in the morning when I'm being dispatched to... well... whatever. It doesn't matter what I'm dispatched to. I curse.

I'm not a sailor, so I can't curse like one. But I can curse like an irritated volunteer firefighter, which is near close to a sailor, I'd wager.

My old partner would be rolling on the floor at the string of curses (including my favorite "fuckin'-fuckity-fuck-fuck") coming from my mouth. I could hear her exploding in laughter in the next room over. And the string of profanities would continue while I walked to the ambulance, got into the driver's seat, and drove to the call, pausing only to key the mic. Only when I would open the driver's door and step out, would the cursing stop and the game face go on.

You see, I value sleep. I have an early bed time at work: 2100 hours. I like to maximize my head-to-pillow time because I never know when I'll be up, or what I'll be doing. Even with this forethought, this planning, I'm still highly irritable when I'm up after midnight.

Heaven forbid we be dispatched to an abdominal pain at three-thirty in the morning. I would diagnose it as "I can't fucking poop!" before even rolling out of bed. An unconscious male at four-thirty was "a fucking drunk dumbass!" And a male with chest pain at the jail at two-fifteen was "fucking handcuff-induced chest pain because he doesn't want to spend the night in jail! Fuck!" (For those of you that keep up with my blog, the F-bomb rule only applies when there are patient's in around.)

And Ms. Dominguez, the 79-year-old female with abdominal pain that hasn't pooped in 5-days, but is now deciding it's a problem at three-thirty in the morning--we'll be medivaning her back to the raisin ranch three hours after dropping her off in the ER, with a prescription of Milk of Magnesia in hand.

So last night, shortly after my head had hit the pillow, the tones went off.

"Medic 1, respond code 1, Raisin Estates for non-emergent transport."

The profanity started low in my stomach, accompanied by this deep, ugly feeling about wanting to do serious harm to care facility nurses.

"Medic 1 responding," my partner keyed the mic after we got into the rig.

"Copy, en route Medic 1. Be advised, patient requesting Columbia hospital. Dispatch clear at 0337."

"That's another 20 god-damn miles! For fuck's sake!"

And without missing a beat, my partner turns to me, "um... can I say that on the radio?"

I still love my job.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Screamin' Eagle

On the weekends, we don't run wheelchair vans which very often means that medivans are tasked to the ambulance crews. As I sat watching a History Channel documentary about the 101st Airborne division--the Screaming Eagles--we were paged for a return medivan trip from a local nursing home. I looked over the page, seeing that we would be taking a patient home. That's a bit of a bright spot I'm thought. We don't often get to return patient's home from a nursing facility.

We arrived to find our patient, Mr. Jefferson, in his hospital bed puffing on a neb treatment with his daughter and grandson at his side. This was going to be a BLS trip so while my Basic partner began chatting up the family, I tracked down the unit nurse for a quick report and our discharge instructions. The nurse was flustered, she knew little of the patient and our paper work hadn't even been started yet. "No problem," I smiled at her, "we're in no hurry."

We situated Mr. Jefferson on our cot, made a few jokes with his daughter, and talked to Mr. Jefferson's grandson, 10-year-old Patrick. My partner wanted to know if Patrick could ride with Grandpa home. "Sure," I replied, "why not?"

After 40 minutes, we were able to fluff Mr. Jefferson's pillow, collect his discharge paperwork, and load him into the ambulance. I set little Patrick up front in the passenger seat next to me, and then off we went. Patrick told me that last year he got to ride in a firetruck with his brother, that he got to play with the siren, and the horn.

"Patrick, did you get to talk on the radio?" I ask him.

"Nope." He had a hopeful look in his eye.

"Do you want to talk on the radio?"

"Yeah!" And his face lit up. I gave him the script and had him practice it once before I held up the mic for him. He had a huge, toothy grin as a keyed up the mic.

"Medcomm, Medic 1 transporting!"

"Copy Medic 1, transporting," replied our dispatcher.

"Look at that, Patrick! Perfect!" He beemed up at me from the passenger seat. During the trip, we talked about his school sports, favorite subjects, and all 13 of his scars. We when arrived home, I let him turn on the lights and talk on the radio again.

"Medcomm, Medic 1 ending!"

We unloaded Mr. Jefferson from the ambulance and he told my partner and I what a wonderful job we were doing. "We always appreciate hearing that Mr. Jefferson, thank you."

We carried him up his front porch, then into his house. His son was there, as well as his young grand daughter. They all welcomed Grandpa home and Mr. Jefferson couldn't have been happier to see them. "This is the most comfortable I've been all day," he told us.

We rolled Mr. Jefferson into his bedroom where he had his own private hospital bed. His wife's twin bed was next to in, seperated by a small night stand in the middle. He had a homemade quilt atop his freshly made bed, and clean, comfortable looking sheets. Gently, we lowered the cot, then transfered Mr. Jefferson to his bed. Above his bed, there was a blanket hanging on the wall, like a firefighter blanket with a picture stitched into it. "You see that there?" Mr. Jefferson asked, point towards the blanket.

I inspected it then. The blanket was of a familiar white eagle head on a black shield background with the words AIRBORNE in gold letters above it. I recognized it right away. "That was my outfit," he said, "the 101st Airborne. The Screamin' Eagles." He puffed up his chest a little, obviously very proud.

And I'm sure that my jaw dropped a little. "You were a paratrooper, sir?" I asked. Mr. Jefferson nodded. "Where were you deployed?"

"Oh, Europe and Africa," he answered, almost nonchalant.

I was standing before an actual American hero and I couldn't have been more honored. If I knew how to snap off a crisp military salute, I would have right then and there. Instead, I extended my hand to him, "Mr. Jefferson, I want you to know how honored I am to have met you today, and how much respect I have for you." The look of guinine warmth and gratitude that I saw in his face was not something I will soon forget.

My partner and I spent a few more minutes on scene. Mr. Jefferson's family showed me his scrap book, with photos of Mr. Jefferson in his paratrooper uniform and journal entries and notes that he took on scraps of paper. On the wall was displayed his purple heart. We left the home that shortly after and for one of the few times in my career, I felt privalaged to be able to do my job. It left me with this thought:

Sometimes we are able to do things that make an impression on our patient's lives, sometimes are patient's do the same for us.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Minor Panic Mode

I keep all of my keys together on one carabiner. One ring for car, house, and FD keys. The second ring for my narc keys for work.

My narc keys have disappeared from the carabiner, possibly on the way home from conference. I'll begin searching a 250 mile corridor from here to Bend...

I'm in minor panic mode...

Keys located--they're only 90 miles away...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Conference Day 2

So I started the day with a great lecture on "Dirty Little Secrets of EMS," all the little things we do that we don't want to admit to. A little expository and embarrassing, but very funny and insightful. I continued with an ECG class by Bob Page--another excellent class with lots of information I'll be able to use in the field. I spent a lot of time with my dad today (who attended the conference and awards dinners with me) taking some BLS classes.

At lunch today, a ton of door prizes were given out--about $10,000 worth. I walked away with a new Littman stethoscope. Boo ya!

We go home in the morning with a 6 hour drive back to the coast, so I'm headed to bed.

New Word of the Day

Parapup: (par-a-pup) noun - a paramedic student or one waiting to take their paramedic certification exam

Friday, October 10, 2008

Conference Day 1

First day of conference started at 0800 with a presentation by Dr Broselow (that's right, of Broselow Tape fame). He spent two one hour sessions demoing a new Color Code Kids system that is designed to provide a computer based, bedside reference for all things pediatric. He's even experimenting with syringes with color coded dose markers and bringing the color coded system to consumers (color coded car seats, OTC meds, etc.) Very interesting stuff.

I spent an hour with Bob Page in Slap the Cap! learning so many things about capnography that I didn't even know. There's an aweful lot scheduled for tomorrow that I'm looking forward to.

Tonight was our awards dinner which started with the presentation of colors, then a little-too-over-the-top rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. The food was good (much better than last years) and the program went somewhat smoothly. One of the presenters kept messing up his little speeches, skipping or changing important details about the stories. The medals weren't available as they hadn't arrived by FedEx yet. Oh, and my award plaque had me listed as an EMT-Basic. Oh well.

Long day ahead of me tomorrow, I'll be going to bed soon.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


The wife and I are headed off to EMS Conference in the morning. We're headed to Bend, in eastern Oregon, which is high desert country and absolutely beautiful. I'm looking forward to the trip, lots of good lectures, and maybe some golf. We'll be back on Sunday with lots of pictures.

Friday, October 3, 2008


Overheard on the radio tonight while returning from a transfer...

Medic: "Medcom, Medic 1."
Dispatch: "Medic 1."
Medic: "We've eliminated our 3rd rider." (That's right, lots of emphasis on eliminated.)
Dispatch: "Copy medic 1, clear your 3rd rider."

Laughter ensued...

I Didn't Ask For A Lifeboat

I don't blog about politics because I think there is so much of that on the internet already. Really, the most political thing I've done with this blog is slap an Obama banner up. But with the passing of the financial bail out package, I feel that it's time to rant a little.

The biggest thing I have to say is that I agree with Gov. Palin:
"Let's do what our parents told us before we probably even got that first credit card. Don't live outside of our means. We need to make sure that as individuals we're taking personal responsibility through all of this."
I understand that the country is in an economic crisis, much of which as a result of a failing mortgage industry, again as a result of lenders baiting borrowers into deals that were too good to be true. The burden for this crisis rests just as much on the American public that keeps borrowing as it does the banks that keep lending.

I have to love Gov. Schwarzenegger's quote about the bail-out:
"The federal rescue package is not a bailout of Wall Street tycoons -- it is a lifeboat for millions of Americans whose life savings, businesses, retirement plans and jobs are at stake."
I don't know about you, but I didn't ask for a lifeboat. I just bought a house--responsibly. I have a 30-year fixed mortgage. I'm able to make my payments on a monthly basis and yeah, sometimes it's tight, but my wife and I made sacrifices to make it work. And if even if I wanted a lifeboat, cut me the check.

When I see stories like this, about a woman who's debt was forgiven because she shot herself twice in the chest after sheriff's attempted to evict her, I get really upset. It doesn't matter that the woman was 90, it matters that the women took out a $46,000 dollar mortgage and an $11,000 dollar line of credit in 2004, it matters that she kept missing payments, it matters than she had been served eviction notices 30 times before this incident. Don't get me wrong, I feel for anyone who's home is taken away from them, but where was this woman's sense of personal responsibility? And where was this woman's common sense (she had 90 years of it) when she refinanced and took out a line of credit. Now she's a damn national hero.

This sort of stuff upsets me. The government has rescued the banks and now those individuals that are defaulting on their mortgages, those actually in financial need, are going to want their own bail out. The average American in mortgage trouble is now going to feel entitled to money in hand, for someone else to fix their financial problems.

I think my biggest bother about the whole bail out is that we're not looking for accountability here. The banks over-stretched themselves with the amount of money they've lent and the American people have over-stretched themselves by borrowing too much. And all that we're learning from all of this is that it doesn't matter, we'll just buy your debt, forgive what you owe, or print more money (oh wait, that's our next rescue plan).