As I'm climbing off the medic after a call, we get toned out again and I see Drew and Eric headed to another unit.
"Come on Sam, let's go," Drew says grabbing my hand as I step off the medic, "dislocated hip."
I sit in the back of the medic envisioning a frail old man that slipped down the stairs, dislocating his hip. I envision his pie-baking wife dialing 911 and greeting us with, "thank you so much for coming; I know it's late." When we arrive, what I find is very different.
In the pouring rain, there lies a very inebriated man on his lawn with his equally inebriated wife standing over him. There are about six firefighters on scene already, and the first thing I hear is, "have fun with this one, Sam." I sigh and put some gloves on.
The firefighters use a scoop stretcher to put him on our bed, and off we go. Eric looks at me and nods, "I'll precept you." I lean over to take a blood pressure and immediately recoil, gagging. He smells of liquor and a mix of dirt, body odor, and unbrushed teeth.
"Oh my God," I mouth to Drew through the rear-view mirror. He nods his head in the direction of the wife sitting next to him in the passenger's seat. I crane my head to listen, and I can make out "good for nothing uneducated medics." I'm unappreciated. Priceless.
I run through the vitals, and take a blood glucose. I start my SAMPLE history and try to decipher what our wasted patient is trying to say. I look over at Eric who is sitting on the bench, head reclined, hands folded in his lap.
Trying to engage him, I say "what do you think about oxygen?" He looks up at me sleepily.
"What about it?"
"His sats are great, but due to a traumatic event, he might go into shock." He shrugs and puts his head back against the seat. Great.
"We ain't going any faster with them si-reens because we's black, ain't that right," I can hear from the front.
"Yes ma'am, the emergency medical system reserves the use of lights and sirens for white patients only. It is with that ridiculous bias that we are able to stay in business." I shake my head as I hear Drew explain that it is a non-emergency, blah, blah, blah. "Damn, he's good at dealing with stupidity," I think to myself as I take a second pulse.
"I haff to frow uhp."
"What's that?"
"I haff to frow uhp."
"One more time."
"Eric, get me an emesis basin!" He lazily reaches over his head and hands me a basin as I make my way to our patient's head.
"Eric, I need you to help me turn him since he's still on the scoop stretcher."
"He's fine, he can turn his head."
"Eric, he's throwing up on himself, help me out here!"
"Fine," he sighs as he tilts the stretcher with one hand. Too little too late; I wipe the vomit off of his face and shoot Eric a look that could kill.
As we arrive at the hospital, Drew and I unload our patient as Eric watches. Drew, the hospital staff and I help move him to the bed as Eric watches. I tell our patient and his wife goodnight and that I hope he gets to feeling better soon. I hear something about a "cracka," and I head for the door. I'm unappreciated. Priceless.
I write my PPCR report as Eric stands in the hallway talking to other providers.
I'm getting really angry, really fast. I get no input, no help, and no feedback from him; this call did not go the way I thought it would at all.
As I hand my report to Eric to sign, he reads my narrative.
"What the hell, Sam, you didn't mention that he had no head or neck pain!"
"Oh man, I knew I forgot something. It's just that the other preceptors usually help me write the report."
"Yeah, well now you've messed it up." I'm unappreciated. Priceless.
I look at Drew with frustration and he winks at me, "come here Sam, help me with this stretcher."
As we put a new sheet over it, I hear Eric grumbling about how he would have just had our patient walk rather than use a scoop stretcher. "What the hell," I mutter to Drew, "I don't understand." He nods and says, "Eric's...well, he's a different kind of provider. I just let him talk a big game, and then disregard everything he says You did a great job. You're an awesome EMT; don't let him make you think any different." He gives me a hug, and I smile. I'm appreciated. Priceless.



"Station 2, unresponsive patient."
The tones drop for another county, interrupting my dream. Frustrated, I roll over in the bed as I hear station 2 and central dispatch corresponding.
"Medic 2 is en route."
"Medic 2 has arrived on scene."
"Central, show that we have a working code."
In my dream, I wonder about how little central dispatch ever seems to say. I hear the door creak open as light streams in the room. Someone pushes my foot over and sits down on the bed.
"Sam. Sam, wake up." Chris pokes me, and I close my eyes tighter; I am not getting up for him, no way, no how.
"Sam, get the hell up!"
"What do you waaaant," I moan as I pull the covers over my head.
"There's a code." I'm up like a shot, tying my boots as I run awkwardly down the hall. I push the hair out of my face, tying it in an unkempt bun as I climb into the medic.
"Why are we going to this," I ask, "it's not our call."
"If this is truly a working code, they'll need manpower," he answers as I attempt to fix my hair once more. We're screaming down the road, going faster than I ever recall; I buckle my seatbelt as I wrestle a pair of gloves on my hands.
We nearly pass the house, but pull in behind another medic and two police cars. I jump out and walk towards the door; I'm not sure if I'm supposed to run in, or if that's reserved for the movies.
I can't even get in the door. She's right there, in the foyer. I shimmy to the side, and stand oddly, looking on. I have no idea if I should offer to help or stay out of the way.
And there it is. There's the bright yellow oral airway jutting out from her mouth. There's the Bag-Valve Mask and someone to squeeze it. There's the heart monitor, showing a flat line running across the screen mockingly. There is the technician doing chest compressions as she wipes her forehead with her upper arm.
I push myself further into the wall, hoping to blend in, hoping no one notices my anxiety. I feel the color draining out of my cheeks, but I know I'm keeping my composure, keeping my face flat and unchanging. The woman lying on the ground is in her forties, and she's wearing a terribly leopard-print dress. I can see the velvet of the garment sticking in different directions after the technician's hands interrupted its fluidity. I see her clunky black heels, and her formerly coiffed hair.
There's a tech showing another how rigor has set in, how it's useless. There's a police officer asking me questions, but I have no idea what they are; I just grasp the wall tighter.
It's done, she's dead. The technician stops compressions, and I notice how she takes special care to modestly arrange that awful dress so that she looks put together. I see one of our medics go to the family member and break the news. All I hear is a scream, and I head out the door. I can't take this.
I have a brief flashback to when they told me about so many of my loved ones. I remember the guttural noise I screamed, and the way the sobs choked their way up my throat. I take a moment to breathe, and Chris is heading out the door.
"Alright kid, let's go. You okay?"
"Yep," I say as I manage a rather convincing smile.
As we drive back, I hear the medics talking about the call, and as I sit alone in the back, I realize I need to talk to someone too. I open my cell phone and call my dad, the only person I know will understand.
"Hey dad, I just got done with a code."
"Oh wow, how was it?"
"Are you okay, Sam?" I hear his voice falter, and I steady my own.
"Yeah. Yeah, I'm okay. It was just so real, you know Dad?"
"Yeah, I know."
"I mean, she was wearing this disgusting leopard-print dress, and there was this woman like...like pushing on her chest, you know? It wasn't glamorous or anything like that. There was a woman lying next to a stain of her own emesis as an EMT pushed on her chest!"
"Yeah, I know kiddo." The tears well up behind my eyes, and I make up an excuse.
"Well I've got to go; we're pulling into the station. Just thought I'd let you know."
"Thanks. Take care, okay? Love you."
"Love you too."
I bolt out of the back as soon as the truck is in the bay, and I mumble something about needing to use the bathroom. I slide down the cold cinder block wall and put my head in between my knees. I let myself cry for a few minutes, and then I'm back with everyone, laughing and eating breakfast.
"Station 1, shortness of breath."
"Medic 1 is en route," and we're off again.


Precepting, round 2

"Sam, this is your call," says my favorite paramedic with a wink. "C-Spine," I say more to myself than anyone else as I wrap my hands around our patient's neck. It's my first call ever as a precepting EMT, and it has to be an unrestrained passenger in a two-car motor vehicle collision. Our driver slides a collar under my fingers and secures it in place. As we carefully backboard our patient, I ask him about his pain, run the gamut of SAMPLE questions, and once we have him in our medic, I start my detailed physical exam. Shining a pen light in every orifice, and palpating him up and down, he sighs and says, "I'm such a fucking idiot, driving without a seatbelt."
"Yeah that's true," I think to myself, but instead I ask him if it hurts when I do "this."
We drive to the hospital without incident while I do all the other things I can possibly remember. We get him into the hospital and he starts shaking, and the next thing I hear is "Oh Christ," as my partner grabs an emesis basin from the table, moving back as he thrusts it in our patient's face. I grab the board to help my partner turn our patient as he vomits. Faster than I can say "that's disgusting," the doctor's rounding the corner. She starts listing off the tests she wants done and shoves me aside. "Give the report," urges the paramedic, and I swallow hard.
"Twenty-five year old male...motor vehicle accident...unrestrained," I literally wipe sweat off of my forehead. What if I forget something? "No prior medical history, vitals WNL," I falter, and the paramedic puts his hand on my shoulder. "He didn't complain of nausea until a few seconds ago," my partner continues. I hear our patient mumbling about how stupid he is, when the paramedic says, "good job Sam, let's do the paperwork."
The Pre-hospital Patient Care Report (PPCR) scares the hell out of me. It's got boxes to be checked, blanks to be filled, and a narrative to be written. He guides me through it one step at a time and then points to the "attendant-in-charge" line for me to sign.
"Oh, no, I'm just an attendant; that's your blank," I mutter. He smiles. "Nope. Sign here." I sign, and he pats me on the back. "I know it was scary," he says, "but you did a great job. Congrats on the first call."
On the way back to the station, I lie down on the bench in our medic and close my eyes.
I'm so glad that it's over; it was possibly the most nerve-racking thing I've ever done.


Blog Love

Alright, so Tractor Tracks gave me a Blog Love award, so I'm passing on the love...it's supposed to be that I pass it on to 5 more people, but I can only think of a few.

To Kyle J. (aka "That Paramedic Student is a Stress Case")
Your blogs are always a good read, and I can definitely relate to almost all of what you say.

To Epijunky (aka "Pink Warm and Dry")
Your posts always provide good information, and range from the super humorous to the heartbreaking. Oh, and I love your tattoo :)

To AD (aka "Ambulance Driver" of "Ambulance Driver Files")
You're one of the main reasons I started blogging. You have a wonderful writing style, and I love seeing your posts pop up on my feed.

To BRM (aka "Blue Ridge Medic")
You're posts are so eloquent and truly touching. It's so refreshing to read your posts and see just how human you are.

So steal the image from my sidebar and pass on the love!

Oh, and there's another post coming tonight or tomorrow.



Sam, the EMT

I've grown restless of being an ambulance driver. I've run the gamut of precepting requirements and I'm now an official non-probationary medic driver. I should be excited, but I'm not; I long to be in the back.
Whenever we run a call, I get to help out a little bit. It's something like, "Sam, can you get a pulse-ox on him," or, "Could you get me a bp on her?" The little bit I get to do is thrilling.
I'm a doctor's daughter who wore kid-sized scrubs when dad would take me on rounds. I volunteered in the hospital for 3 years. My whole life I have never wanted to be anything that didn't have to do with science or medicine. I belong in the back.
As I return home for the summer, I find an EMT class at a squad nearby. I sign up immediately, and the instructor emails me the syllabus. It's hard to stop myself from drooling; we have everything from airway management to infants and children, and I am beyond excited. I buy the book and spend one evening reading over every chapter; when I get to the units on trauma, my eyes gleam, and I am crazy with anticipation. I find acronyms like "SAMPLE" and "OPQRST" incredibly neat, although I think "DCAP-BTLS" could use a little work as a mnemonic.

The class flies by. I'm in class three times a week sitting in a row with two firemen and a guy I went to high school with. I take notes, ask questions, highlight and volunteer answers. I'm that student that everybody loves to hate, but I've made it my goal to pass the test on my first try.
I do my clinical hours in the ED, but those don't even compare to the time I spend at my instructor's fire station in the city. She's the only woman there, and I find myself to be much like her. I quickly bond with one of the guys on her shift, who as he is walking me to my car to make sure I don't get mugged says, "Sam, you're probably the most genuine person I've ever met. You have a good head on your shoulders, and you're eager to learn. If you ever need anything from me or the station, please don't hesitate to ask." The calls I run there are beyond educational (nothing like Clearview), and the people I meet teach me the most. It's right then and there, sitting in the kitchen of one of my city's fire departments, that I decide that I want to be a Firefighter Paramedic.

Test day comes and I'm as nervous as a lap dog. I tell my partner (whom I have taken to calling "bud"), "Bud, regardless of what happens, thanks for being such a great partner." He puts his arm around me and shakes his head, "Yeah, yeah, but you know we're going to pass."
I finish the written section in thirty minutes flat. Seriously? That was the state test? I worry that I took it too fast, that I missed something important, but it's too late now. Partner and I move on to clinicals.
Trauma Station #2: gun shot wound to the leg, pt fell and has a suspected head injury. "Christ," I mutter to myself, thinking that this is not at all as easy as the instructor made it out to be. I'm lead for trauma, so I run through the list in my head: c-spine, collar, splint the leg, DCAP-BTLS, and board; vitals, O2, assess LOC, get in the "medic", detailed physical exam, reassess vitals, call it in to the hospital.
Okay. Two deep breaths and I'm ready.
We leave the situation feeling good when all of a sudden, partner looks at me and says "Shit, we forgot to call it load-and-go!" My heart sinks, and I'm considering running back in there and screaming "IT'S A LOAD AND GO," but instead I calm myself and remember that I did call her "critical" at one point. God I hope the evaluator liked us.
Medical Station #3: allergic reaction.
I'm not the lead here, so I just double-check everything my partner does to make sure we won't do anything fail-worthy. She has an epi-pen, so I check the 4 Rights. It's all right except for the fact that it's expired. Lovely. We call for ALS, get ourselves in the "medic" and try not to panic. She's going into respiratory distress? Brilliant. We start bagging, and I start cursing in my head with every breath I administer.
Congratulations, you may or may not have passed, and you will know soon.
Partner and I go out to lunch, and we spend the whole time talking about how we definitely failed. I open up my drink, and underneath the cap are printed the words, "A partnership shall prove successful." We have a good laugh, but in reality, it calms me down beyond belief.

I check the website and the mail about twice an hour. All I get is a whole lot of nothing. Finally, while I'm at work, partner calls to tell me that we both passed; I start freaking out, and my colleagues think I'm insane, but hey, let 'em!

I go to visit my instructor with a thank you card, and she says, "I had no doubt in my mind that if only one student would pass, it would be you."
"Maybe it's dorky to read and take notes, but I wouldn't be where I am today if I didn't. When you're a paramedic, or you're in charge of the entirety of EMS where you live, don't forget about little ol' me."
She hugs me and with a wink says, "you're an EMT now; go out and save people."


A small rant

[[Alright, due to some thoughts about "Jason" reading the blogs and knowing they are about him, Jason Parts 1 and 2 have been taken down. I have them saved on my personal computer and all that jazz.

Here's the thing though, folks:
If you want to tell me something, then by all means tell me. Email me, post it in a comment, whatever. But have the chutzpah to do it with a name. Tell me who you are, don't be "anonymous." And if you don't have a blogger, then sign your anonymous post with a name, or send me an email and *sign* it. I don't mind harsh words, I don't. But please at least tell me who you are.

In response to the comment:
I wasn't actually going to get back into the swing of things once he was single. That was just me saying that there was no way it was going to happen now that he has a girlfriend. I was hurt, so I froze up and said the first thing that came to mind.
I have moved on. I don't know how many of you realize this, but this blog is a little retroactive. I'm catching up on past events, so everything you're reading happened a while ago. Now I'm cut loose to drive, I'm an EMT, etc. This "Jason" nonsense happened back in March, and I'm way past it. It's called artistic license, guys.
I appreciate the comment, I really do. It made me feel relatively good because somebody else saw through his trash and called me "good looking" and "smart." Thank you. I have self-confidence (a great deal, trust me), but sometimes when a guy comes along that makes you swoon, you forget who you are as a person.

So basically, all I'm asking is this:
Have the decency to leave me comments with names. It really makes all the difference. And if you don't want other people reading it, then email me. It's in the profile.

I should have another post up either tonight or tomorrow. Thank you for reading so much, it really makes my day to see comments show up in my inbox. Seriously, over 1,300 views in a few weeks!? You have no idea how awesome that makes me feel!

I'm sorry for the rant, it just really got to me today for some reason. Sorry guys.


Edit (4/2/08):I decided to put the posts about Jason back up.]]