First Call

After my EVOC certificate arrived in the mail (and was promptly framed and put on the wall), I began precepting as a driver. Precepting, I learned, is just a fancy word for 'training'. I make my way over to the station one Wednesday night, and meet the crew I will be running with. I meet Steve, John, Hank, Drew, Ed and Liz, all of whom I am sure I'll come to know and love.
John, a professor at my university, gives me the orientation. He tells me about procedures, courtesies, ettiquite and rules. We are to do inventory on an ambulance at the beginning of every shift; we must call into dispatch when we are leaving for a call, arriving at the scene, leaving for the hospital, arriving at the hospital, leaving the hospital, and arriving back at the station. I do not have remote privileges, because I am new--the remote control hierarchy is decided by seniority and rank. My head is absolutely swimming with information at this point, but I nod everytime he asks if I understand.
John's son-in-law, Steve is going to be the one precepting me. He is a math teacher at a local middle school and has two daughters of his own. He is a generally jovial man, who knows how to have a good time. I am more than relieved at the fact that I will be training with someone who has a sense of humor.
Before we go out to dinner, I learn a little bit more about my crew. Drew is an exceptionally handsome member who happens to be a year ahead of me at my school. I am thrilled that there will be someone my own age; I make a mental note to ask him about ride-sharing.
Ed (who is also called Edward by the others when he is getting particularly excited) is a twenty-something junior member. Ed has no training, save CPR, but certainly provides the others with a generous amount of comic relief. He is easily excitable and, like my lieutenant, appears to have had more than his fair share of caffeine.
Liz is a physical therapist who has a daughter attending my college. She is just as funny as everyone else, but seems to be more stressed and tired than the others. She, however, has a knack for making me feel more at ease, and I settle in better when she is around.
Hank I do not get to know very well. He is more quiet than the others, but his contributions are always enjoyed. The first thing I notice about him is that he wears Chuck Taylor tennis shoes with his uniform, even though everyone else wears black boots.
Everytime the radio starts beeping, chattering, or making noise of any sort, I jump. I am both excited and nervous at the prospect of getting a call. I hear the two pitched tones for other stations, and I am left wondering what ours sound like. I ask John how I'll know if we get a call. He smiles and me and says, "Oh, you'll know." I am left with a sinking feeling in my stomach.
We are watching TV, when I hear the radio once more, "doo-doooooo." I don't move, because I'm sure it's just another station. I hear the dispatch information and disregard it completely. I turn my attention back to the television when all of a sudden my ears are accosted by a loud ringing. I jump about fifteen feet in the air, and I hear John laughing. He shakes his head and with a laugh says, "I told you you'd know!"
Steve makes a motion for me to follow him. I get behind the wheel of the ambulance, and suddenly it dawns on me: I have no idea where anything is. I start panicking, looking around for a map or anything to help me get from point A to point B. I see nothing, and my heart leaps up a little higher in my chest; I can hear the blood pounding in my ears. Steve reaches between the seats and pulls out a binder filled with maps. I breathe a sigh of relief, and he directs me all the way to the scene.
The emergency is at a school just a few minutes away. I think it is odd to be dispatched to a school at 21:00, but then Steve tells me that it's a basketball game. I grab the jump bag (an obscenely heavy bag filled with equipment--essentially a portable ambulance) and follow the others. We walk into the gym, and I see bleachers filled with people. The noisy group falls silent as we walk around the court into the locker room. I feel strange; one one hand, I feel important, like I am about to save somebody (oh the naivety), but on the other, I feel like I am intruding. I am a stranger in uniform interrupting a basketball game; I am out of place. I swallow hard and pick up the pace.
The "emergency" wasn't exactly life threatening. A player had hit his head and he had a small lasceration above his eyebrow that wasn't even bleeding. I feel so relieved I could cry; this man will not die en route to the hospital because of my poor driving. He decides to go to the hospital with us, and we take him out to the medic. As we leave, the crowd stands up and applauds (which is customary for an injured player walking out instead of being carried), and my head is filled with delusions of grandeur. I am Sam, the ambulance driver, who will drive this man to safety; the crowd loves me. Even though I am new, I realize how stupid that is. I shake my head in disgust, and focus on the patient.
Steve tells me to drive lights and sirens to the hospital. I give him a funny look and he says, "I'd rather have you mess up a non-emergency while driving with lights, then to tank on a potentially life or death call." I nod, and we pull out of the school's parking lot.
After we return back to the station, I collapse on the couch. I have never been so exhausted in my life. John looks at me and says, "Was it exciting?" Yeah, that's one way of putting it.
"Let's just say I've had my fill of excitement for the year." He glances at the sheet detailing what happened on the call and cracks a smile.
"Just you wait, kid."


Blue Ridge Medic said...

Excellent writing. Congratulations on your first call. What level of certification do you hold?


Kyle J. said...

My preceptors still make fun of me because I'm so giddy when it comes to calls

Anonymous said...

i love your blogs!

i am a rescue member at a station outside of Akron, OH. Im in college too so ur stories are exactly like mine.

Question though- do you have a lot of 'squad romance' going on? I have a hot guy on my crew too- but im afraid to ask him anything. Hes like our driver- and I just ride in the back with the PIC.

do u feel like that towards Drew?


Branchville Rescue Squad

Medic 61 said...

There is certainly some squad romance that goes on, but not too terribly much. Drew is very attractive, and I certainly liked him at first. However, he now feels more like family, so those feelings have kind of subsided.
Hope you figure stuff out with your driver :)