10.09.2007

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."

2 comments:

Alaina said...

I love the post!! Now I am also worried out of my mind about passing my clincals.....they sound scary :/

Silent Owl Scribe said...

Sam, you deserved the wink! You are an EMT [[in the process of becoming one!!!]] now. You do have to save people...

[[Medic 61, just an awesome story...just excellent. I enjoyed it a great deal. An excellent writer you are who, I wish to learn from, so I could write with as much clear vision, passion and heart as you presented here. I have to go now...10-4!]]