This Week's Bruises

These are the bruises from this week that I find myself with. They don't show up too well, but the particularly nasty one is from an unknown source. The one higher up on the leg is courtesy of the jump bag, and the scar healing above my ankle is thanks to cutting it on the stretcher.

It's a labor of love, I suppose!

p.s.--I love how pants-lines from the BDUs tend to stick around for hours. It's really sexy.

p.p.s.--I also managed to pull a muscle in my hip region while sneezing. I am a girl of many, many talents.


Every time I come off shift, I wonder if it will be like this for the rest of my life. Every part of me aches, every part of me screams for relief.

My feet beg me to take off the work boots I've been in for so long. They ask me why I haven't gotten some good insoles yet, and remind me of my double novicular bones. "Sam," they say, "have you forgotten that you already have two extra bones working against your comfort?" I remind myself to buy some gel insoles, but I never do.

My legs are covered in bruises. If it's not because I bump them against the stretcher, it's because the jump bag slaps against them as I head inside. Often I use them as furniture-finders when I groggily make my way from the bunk room to the radio to answer a call in the dark. My shins and my thighs hate me.

My hips and my back are by far the worst. My scoliosis is bad enough on its own, cocking my hips permanently to compensate for the curve. But every night I spend on the second-rate mattresses that have occupied our bunk room for god knows how long is another night my back will never be the same.

My shoulders scream from the stress. I carry it all there, and it is obvious from the way they are almost always shrugged up. The knots are palpable. My partners pat my on the back or take me by the shoulder, and I wince.

And after almost every shift, my head pounds from the alarm ringing in the hall or the sirens sounding out from our medic. I take Advil in preparation, but I know it won't help much.

I am tired. I want nothing more than to sleep in my own bed after a long shift. I change into a loose shirt and some shorts immediately. Smells of the ambulance and the hospital linger in my clothes long after I've left.

It is so difficult to come off of an 18 or 24 hour shift, especially if there is something I have to do right after. So why do I do it? If I hurt so much and if I am so tired, why do I keep subjecting myself to it?

When I come home, I am happy. I know that what I have done has had purpose, even if I never hear a word of thanks. If we don't run a single call, I am happy, because I know that I was there, ready. I go back to the station every week, looking forward to the ache that I have come to associate with it.

My name is Sam, and I am an addict.


Yay Interviews!

It went so well. As soon as my background check clears (man I hope those late-night antics from last week don't interfere...), I'll be hearing back from them.

Paid holidays, annual bonuses, annual raises, safety bonuses, benefits...these people sound wonderful. They're a real family type of company.

After I got out of the interview, I got emails from some other companies that want me to come in an interview. I sure hope I figure out something soon, because I'm definitely wanting to start working soon!

Thank you for all your support and well-wishes! They made me feel super confident today!

I've got to get some sleep, but I'll most likely post something tomorrow night during my shift at the station :)

Take care out there,


Interview #2

Well, tomorrow I have an interview at way-more-podunk-than-the-first transport company. When I called, they said "we're hurtin' real bad for EMTs. Some of us are working 80-90 hours a week to make up for it." So I'm pretty optimistic that I'll get the job. I'm interviewing and filling out an application tomorrow, so we'll see!

I have to get up "early" (0745), but I have a good breakfast planned out. And I get to wear my awesome green skirt suit!

If I get the job, I'll get to work out of "vambulances," but that's alright. It's not quite as exciting as the first job, but at this point, I just need a job.

So please wish me good luck! And of course, you can expect an update about it.

I'll figure out something good to write about soon :) But for now, I'm off to have some ice cream and watch the Andromeda Strain.



Run Board

The people who work at my station are quite interesting. Funny, anal-retentive, caring, super-relaxed, experienced, etc. They run the gamut of qualities.

So that's why when my roommate, Olivia, showed me a picture she took, I couldn't contain myself.

My crew? We'd have to have each medic figured out. Drew, Sam and Eric are on this medic. And then we write it out very carefully and decide which medic is first run and which is second...but if it's BLS, who is first due for that? We're very intense about our run board.

Olivia's crew? Not so much.

If you can't read it, it says "When tones go off." Love it.

Be safe out there,


The "bird" (Pt. 2)

The next morning, I roll out of bed at around noon. I try not to feel too bad about it--I was up until 5-something with a pointless call. I'm allowed to sleep in, I rationalize.
Sleepily, I cut myself a piece of coffee cake I see sitting on the table. I'm startled by a tap on the shoulder, and I turn with the knife in hand.
"Whoa, a little jumpy there?" It's one of the career staff coming on shift, and I nod.
"Sorry about that, it's been a long shift."
"Yeah, about that." He pauses and I feel suddenly uncomfortable. "Hey, Sam?"
"What's the first thing they teach you in EMT class?" I swallow hard. I know what's coming.
"Scene safe, BSI."
"Right. So, about that call yesterday?"
"I had by BSI," I say as I show him my hands, as if this will help my case.
"The scene wasn't safe."
"Why not?"
"Unshielded, downed power lines running under the medic."
"Right. Were you driving?"
"Good. Let me tell you something. Even if you don't touch that line, it can still shock you from about six feet away."
"Whoa." My life suddenly feels extremely valuable.
"You better thank God or whatever that you were wearing those thick rubber-soled shoes of yours." He prods at my foot with his.
"They're probably the reason you're alive. Until the guys with the white dome hats show up in a truck that says Dominion, don't you go anywhere near a power line, okay?"
"Don't ever get too comfortable, Sam."

He disappears for a moment and comes back in with an emesis basin. It's full of trash, clothes, and IV supplies. My mouth drops immediately; that's from my call yesterday.
"Also," he starts, "this is completely unacceptable."
"Yeah, this was in the back of the medic."
"That's unreal! I bagged the sheets and cleaned up with them; I mean, I'm not trying to place blame, but holy crap!"
"It's okay. You make mistakes, you learn. Don't let it happen again."
"Yeah, definitely not."
"Are you ALS?"
"No, just BLS."
"That's what I thought. Well then, I won't get on you about this, but nobody exchanged the IV box."
"Yep, it's missing 10 and 20 drip sets, two bags of saline and some bio occlusives."
"Oh my God. I'm so embarrassed right now."
"Good, that's the only way you'll remember not to mess up like these guys in the future."

Any feelings of grandeur I had slide right out of my heart. I'm not Sam, the EMT who saves lives; I'm Sam, the girl who apparently learned nothing from her EMT class, has no respect for the cleanliness of the ambulance or the state of the equipment.

I swore to myself I'd remember "scene safe, BSI" for the rest of my life. I dreamt about it when I was in class. It was the thing that I always caught when other people forgot. Am I becoming jaded? I just jumped those power lines like they were any other thing in my way. What if I had tripped? What the hell is wrong with me?

I'm pulled from my own thoughts by a call going out. As I climb into the seat of the ambulance, I silently say a prayer. I'm not exactly sure to whom I'm praying, but it doesn't matter.

Please, protect me, my partners and my patients. Should something happen on this or any other call, I just hope I've lived a legacy.

I feel stupid, but I don't care at this point. We arrive on scene, and it's an elderly lady who is so constipated she's ready to burst.

"Glad nothing could go wrong here," I think to myself.

On my way to grab the stretcher, I trip down the stairs and scrape up my hand.

"Don't ever get too comfortable."


The "bird" (Pt.1)

I can barely make it through the door before the tones drop.
"Station 1, Station 2, motor vehicle collision with injuries."
I note the address, and realize that it's right in front of the station. We get in the medic and drive a few feet down the road. I pause and look around. Pick-up truck, silver car, white car. Okay.

My partner parks the medic, and as I open the door to get out, I'm met with frantic yelling.
I brace myself on the door, keeping myself from stepping off. I nearly lose my balance as I look down--there are unshielded power lines around the scene and running under the medic.
"Are they on," I shout to the anonymous voice.
"Yes. The black one is cable, but the silver one is power."
My partner is already out of the medic, and I wonder if we should move the medic or not. While I'm wondering this, I see a man sprawled across the bench seat of his pick-up. He is face-down, and not moving. As far away as I am, I can see blood dripping off the passenger's seat.

I carefully hop the downed power lines and make my way over to him. He's speaking--patent airway and a pulse. The passenger's side door is jammed, but the driver's door opens easily.

The fire department arrives, and I think to myself that this is the first time they've showed up after us. We extricate him as quickly as we can; the only problem is someone to take c-spine. The only way to get in there is to kneel in glass and prop yourself up with the steering wheel. Before I know it, I'm being hoisted up.
"You're the smallest, Sam. It's all you."
I look down at the seat. There is so much blood; I've never seen anything like it.
"You doing okay, Steve?"
"Yes. My arm really hurts."
"What else hurts?"
"My ribs, my leg and my head."
"Okay, Steve, we'll check you out when we get you out. Just try to stay as still as you can, okay? Let us do all the work."

As we log roll him from one backboard to another so he is situated correctly, I hear a firefighter start yelling.
"Launch the bird, launch the bird!"
I look at my partner and wonder if he asked for the helicopter. By this time, there are two other medic units on scene--maybe they saved us the trouble. Whatever the case, I hear that the helicopter is about 12 minutes away.
We get our patient packaged and exposed, and I take mental note of his injuries. Two lacerations to the head that are bleeding profusely, an injured arm, tender ribs, and something at his ankle. I feel like I can see his pulse pounding in his foot. I make my way down to his feet and check it out. There's a big bruise forming around his ankle, and a bounding pulse I can literally see.
"Alright, guys, let's go."
We get him into a different medic than the one we came in so that we don't have to cross the power lines again.

In the back, my partner starts a line. It's beautiful--textbook. He puts a bio-occlusive over it and goes to get some tape. As he turns around, it catches on his hand and rips from his arm. I slam my finger over his vein, clamping it down to stop the bleeding. The catheter sprays saline around before someone shuts it down. Another paramedic starts a line in the other arms quickly and I sigh.
"What are we missing?" My partner taps his foot impatiently, and I reach for a penlight.
"Pupils are reactive but slow," I announce to no one in particular.

The helicopter lands and the flight medics join us. We tell them what we have, and before I know it, they're gone. The helicopter takes off, and I glance back at our medic. Blood, saline, clothes and trash litter the ambulance, and I lean my head back in frustration.

Clorox Commercial

In this post and this post, I talked about a commercial with a little girl in it.

I hadn't seen the commercial again until today, at which point I realized it was for Clorox. It's called "Kid's Don't Know" apparently. I couldn't find a video I could embed, but you can find the 30 second commercial here.

Had a very interesting shift yesterday and this morning. And when I say very interesting, I mean that it was amazing, potentially life-threatening, and embarrassing. As soon as I finish thinking it through, I'll post it here.

Take care out there,


Why did you call us again?

"Sam, you're teching this one," Drew says to me sleepily. I check my watch--it's 4:20 am, and my head is throbbing from the tones that just went off.
"Yeah, I've got it." The call went out as "pain," so I'm thinking it's either fibro or some other general pain from the flu.
The drive out is uneventful; there's no one on the road. As Eric drives, I lean my head against the window and try to sleep. Turns out the trailer is right down the street, so I don't have much time at all.
As we pull in, I see a man looking out the window and waving us in. He disappears inside, and I pull on some gloves as we head in.
"Hello? EMS," Drew yells into the house as he knocks on the door. It seems like the two of them never let me be first in at night; I love them for it.
Nobody answers. I hear some muffled noises, but nothing distinguishable. The door creaks open a bit from Drew's knocking, and he yells again.
"Uhhhgh, yeah, come on in!" I look in the living room and no one's there. We head towards the bedroom still seeing no one. Finally, I see Drew stop at a door that I assume is the laundry room.
The door is wide open, and before I can realize that it is actually a bathroom, I'm looking right at him.
"Oh I'm so glad to see you guys," he says, looking out at me as he leans back. I turn away quickly and head back into the living room. Drew is visibly trying to contain his laughter.
The man finished peeing and comes back out to join us.
"Um, hello, can you tell me what's going on this morning?" I try my best to avoid Drew's gaze because I know we'll both be reduced to laughter.
The man has very few teeth in his mouth and weighs about as much as I do, only a foot taller.
"Oh I know what's wrong."
"Alright, sir, what's that?"
"I need to go to detox for these damned pills." At this point, I'm concerned. Did he accidentally overdose? Do I need to call ALS?
"Which pills, sir?"
"These tylenol with codeine pills." I see a big bottle sitting on the table next to him, nearly full.
"How long have you been taking these?"
"10 years." Now I'm just confused.
"Sir, did you call us because you have an addiction or because you took too many tonight?"
"I've gone to detox twice, and I can tell I need to go again. 10 years I've been taking these pills." I take that as the former.
"Okay, sir, we can take you to Clearview Regional or Sacred Heart. Where would you like to go?"
"Oh I don't want to go to the hospital." Drew is literally turned around laughing in little fits, and Eric looks at me with an incredulous stare.
"Then where do you want us to take you?"
"Southside. They have a great detox facility."
"Okay, sir, we can only go to Clearview or Sacred Heart. We aren't a transport service, we're an emergency service--we transport to emergency rooms. Now, we'll be more than happy to take you to one of those, but other than that, there's not much else we can do for you."
Drew's getting a blood pressure while he holds his breath to contain the laughter. His vitals are great--textbook, even: blood pressure is 124/82, pulse ox of 99, heart rate of 74.
"Well I don't want to go to the hospital. I just want to detox."
Eric pulls out a refusal form and explains it to him as I put away our equipment. Heading back out to the medic, we're all a little upset.
"So you wake up the duty crew at four-something in the morning for a problem you've had for 10 years!?" Drew is both livid and disbelieving.
"I know."
"I just don't know who would think that's okay," he says.
"He's an old, lonely man," I shrug, shaking my head, "I know it's BS, but we're here for that too."
The drive back is quiet, and I try to keep my eyes open. Surprisingly, I have trouble falling back to sleep, and I can hear Drew mumbling sleepily in his bed.
Some time later, he rolls over and angrily exclaims, "fucking detox." I'm not sure if he's awake or not, but I giggle to myself as I turn towards the wall.



So there's this very cool ad campaign running around where I live for the Virginia Beach volunteer rescue squads. They have these intense commercials and posters and such that are really attention-grabbing.
It's awesome to see such a high-power campaign for EMS! Just thought I'd share one that I love. If you want to see more, you can check out the website here. It's a pretty interactive site, too.

Well, I'm off to drive back from my home-home to my school-home. Got to get me that job! I'll have that post up soon that I promised earlier :)


Various Things

I submitted an application to a new transport company. The application said "Can you lift 120 pounds?" *checks* "Mmhmm. I wonder if that was my lift test, 'cause if it was, I just passed with flying colors!" So we'll see what happens there!

Drew and Eric met with the administration today about our campus rescue proposal. I wasn't able to be there because I'm home for this week, but I got a call from Drew. Essentially...we're in. We have to do a little more research about liability and the NCAA's rules, but...we'd be stand-by only. This means that we'd work football games, basketball games, and other major events on campus.
Now, it's not on-call coverage, but that's okay. We understand that we need to prove to the university our commitment and our level of skill, so this is a good starting place. It's actually a better starting place than we expected! So I feel like breaking out a bottle of champagne (or uh...sparkling cider...) to celebrate.

And for all you EMS types out there who are fortunate enough to live near a Sheetz, take a look at this!

Oh, and don't forget that tomorrow at McDonald's you can get a free Southern-style Chicken Sandwich with the purchase of a medium or large drink. I mean, I'm not all about the McDonalds, but free food is free food!


p.s.--RIP Trevor, my little buddy.

Finger (Pt. 2)

First of all, thanks for all the hair comments guys! I appreciate it :)

Tori commented that she couldn't see the cut in the last picture, which is true because I have a grainy camera in my computer. Here's a second picture with my finger farther away. I'll admit...it's small, haha. But from farther away, it should be a little easier to see.

Or maybe I'm just a complainer ;)

I'll have a new post about an um..."interesting" call up tonight.

Until then,



Well, here's the infamous sliced finger. I'll admit, it looked a lot more dramatic with blood running out of the cut and down the finger and me wincing in pain, but whatever. The camera is kinda blurry too, but you get the point.

That point is: I am a winner.

Yours, per usual,


I've Learned So Much

Mom and Dad have taught me a lot.
"To thine own self be true?" Check.
There are three keys to financial success: save, own, invest? Check.
Always cut away from yourself? Uh...not quite.

I return from college and have my first sit-down dinner with my family in some time. I'm telling them about the A's I got in Religion and my Internship Class, and our efforts to start a campus rescue squad. I fill them in on exciting calls I've run, and my efforts to find a job.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to slice the skin off a kiwi because my traditional use-a-spoon-to-scoop-it-out method that I learned in Australia is failing. Kiwi wasn't ripe enough or something, so I grab the steak knife.
Slice, slice, slice...
Oh damn!

Mom and Dad look over at me and see me wincing as I apply pressure to the cut.

"Did you just cut yourself with that really sharp knife," Dad asks with a cocked eyebrow.
"Didn't you ever learn not to cut towards yourself," Mom inquires.
"You were a Girl Scout!"

Now I'm wrapping a napkin around my finger as I continue slicing the infernal kiwi.

"Do we need to rush you to the ED?" Dad is obviously kidding as he watches me struggle.
"Well, if I were any of a number of my patients, the answer would be yes."

So after 19 years of life, 14 years of school (having managed to graduate and finish half of college already), entrance into the National Honors Society, and more...I still haven't learned how to cut my own food. My parents must be so proud.

In other news, my dad of all people turned me on to twitter. I'm already addicted! If you twitter, you can follow me here...and if you don't twitter, you should! My twitter now shows up in my sidebar, so it'll be plaguing you one way or the other!




"I just knew something was wrong, so I came right home." The woman is frantic as she paces around the room.
"Ma'am, can you tell me what happened?" A police officer who is nothing but another large uniform to her flips open his notebook.
"I told you. She's tried to kill herself before, but she's been in therapy for two years. I was out grocery shopping, and I just knew something was wrong. I left and didn't even buy the groceries. I just came right home." She breaks down into tears again, and I want nothing more than to offer her some compassion in a seemingly heartless room.
I can't, though, I'm busy checking her daughter's pupils and putting her on a non-rebreather.
"Here," another officer says as he gestures to the bottles in his hand, "these were on the floor next to the note."
Ambien, Paxil and Flexeril bottles are handed to me with nothing in them. I check the date they were prescribed. Just a week ago she was put on the Flexeril after a car accident, and the other two were filled a few days later--full bottles.
Her mother stops pacing and looks at the officer.
"Did you say there was a note?"
"Uh...yes, ma'am."
"Well can I see it?"
"No ma'am, it's evidence."
"Yes ma'am, we can't rule this as a suicide attempt until we finish an investigation."
"Please, I just want to see what she said."
"I'm sorry."
Tears stream like rivers down her cheeks. Her face is mottled from the sobs, and her hair is disheveled from running her hands through it.
Her daughter mumbles incoherently from time to time and plays with the tassel on a throw pillow she can reach.
"Alright, let's go," my partner says to me after we load her onto the stretcher.
We wheel her out to the front door, and another officer helps take her down the stairs as I get the jump bag.
The hair on the back of my neck stands up as I feel someone grab my arm. I see that our patient has latched onto me, and I look at her quietly. She looks me square in the eyes and takes a deep breath.
"Isn't it beautiful?" She grins like a child who has just seen presents under the Christmas tree.
For a moment, everything stops but me. I don't hear her mother's sobs. I don't hear the radio traffic between dispatch and the police. I don't hear the birds chirping on this beautiful day, and I don't hear anything anyone says to me.
I breathe in the fresh air and see the koi, frozen in time in their glassy pond. The leaves on the tree are a vibrant shade of green, and a bright yellow plant grows in the shadow cast by the trunk. The red lights of the ambulance glow cheerfully in the moment, and the blue of the police cars mix in perfect harmony.
And then it all starts again.
"Staircases," she says dreamily, "so many staircases with the green ladders."
My partner chuckles a bit, but I'm silent. From the ambulance, I can hear her mother wailing, punctuating the still summer afternoon with grief.
"Shit, she's going south," my partner says as he grabs a bag-valve mask. The purple of the bag matches the purple writing in her shirt, and suddenly I feel goosebumps creeping up my arms.

After we clear from the hospital, we step outside while we wait for a face sheet. Looking at the sunset, my partner sighs and puts his hands on his head.
"Isn't it beautiful," he asks offhandedly.
Something catches in my throat, and I look at the ground.
"Yeah, it is."


I failed my lift test again.

Now, let me explain something really quickly. This is not because I'm a weakling slacker. I went to the gym every day for at least half an hour. I did dead-lifts, bicep curls, leg presses, sit-ups, push-ups, etc. I worked myself into a little frenzy over this, and it paid off.

I lifted 120 pounds and walked 15 feet with it like it was no big shake.
I did 5 bicep curls at 40 pounds in the amount of time it took me to do one the week before.

So what failed me, then?

My damned left hand. Grip strength did not go up, nor did it go down. It remained a steady 65 psi. I used my dad's grip strengthener every day. Apparently it takes something like 3-6 weeks to increase grip strength because you're trying to build small muscles in the hands which take longer than, say, the biceps.

So I didn't get hired. I got my TDAP vaccine, my PPD skin test, a drug test, and two two-hour round-trips for a whole lot of nothing (save a learning experience).

Was I discouraged? Yes. Was I defeated? No. Tomorrow I get an application from a different transport company, and I start over.

I know I have what it takes to do this job, and I'm determined to prove it to the rest of the world.

So, now I'm going to put away my "I can succeed" soap box and start rereading Peter Canning's Paramedic to pump myself up. I can, after all, since school is over.



I Am A Princess

"I am a princess, and princesses don't get sick." I look up to the TV and see a little blonde girl smiling.
I write an addendum in a post to my blog and think about how glad I am that I haven't taken a little girl like that to the hospital in a long time.
I try to fall asleep in the dark room, but my body just won't relax. A group of muscles tense right as the tones drop.
"Station 1, 418 Springbrook, 8 year old female seizing."
There's nothing quite like seeing the crew at a rescue squad when a pediatric call is toned out. Everybody is up walking around, eyes wide and nervous. Nobody says much of anything; they just head out to the medic.
Drew, Eric and I congregate in the day room with the paid provider as I answer the radio.
"Station 1 received, a medic will be en route shortly."
We all look at one another, helpless, until I hear the paid guy say, "oh, hell, we'll all go." Drew and I head towards a medic as Eric and he respond in the Zone truck.
The ride over is relatively silent. I hear Drew running through the scenario in his mind, talking it out quietly.
"Suction the airway," he says softly, "it's gonna be ALS with an IV and probably some Valium."
I nod to myself. I'm so proud, and I beam at him in the dark.
For some reason, I'm the first in. The police officer on scene points me up the stairs, and as I enter a sweetly decorated room, I see a tiny girl seizing on her bed. She grunts now and then, her sweat-soaked hair matted to her face.
She's the girl from the commercial. In my mind, I know she isn't, but my heart is screaming out.
On the headboard in pink paint, it says "Princess," with a gold crown above it. I freeze, and all I can do is kneel down and push the hair out of her face.
"What's her name," I ask of her parents who are standing helplessly in the doorway.
"Allyson," her mother replies frightfully.
Eric makes it up the stairs with some more equipment, and I feel safer. Next comes Drew followed by the paid guy.
I can see each one of them react differently, and I realize none of them knows quite how to deal with a young girl in the same maternal way that I can.
"Allyson, my name is Sam, we're going to take you to the hospital, okay?"
"She probably can't hear you," Eric says.
"Shh, do what you're going to do, and I'll do what I'm going to do." I'm pretty sure I shoot him a look that could kill, but I see the relief in her mother's eyes, so I don't care.
I put her on a non-rebreather and marvel at just how small it truly is. She's absolutely tiny, and I just want to scoop her up into my arms.
Eric beats me to it and I'm left carrying the oxygen bottle.
He fumbles with her awkwardly in his arms, and can't seem to get her situated quite right.
"Give her to me," I say, getting frustrated.
"I've got it."
"Eric, let me do it." Drew nods resigned to the fact that Eric shouldn't be the one to carry her. Noting my stress, he puts a hand on my shoulder, squeezing it softly.
"Let me help," he says to Eric as he takes her out of his arms, readjusts her, and hands her back.
"Allyson, we're going to go to the ambulance now."
Her mother thanks me and assures me that they'll meet us there.
In the medic, I stay by her side as Drew and Eric go back in the zone. Matt, the paramedic on shift tonight tries to start an IV.
"I hate doing these on kids," he says as he stretches out her arm. Her eyes flutter open and she looks right at me, trying to speak over the non-rebreather.
"Hi, Allyson," I say with a smile. She looks over at Matt and looks back at me with some panic as she realizes where she is.
"We're taking you to the hospital right now, okay?" She nods as Matt sticks her, and I feel her reach out for my hand. Grabbing it right away, I use my other hand to push some stray strands out of her eyes. She squeezes it as tight as she can, and relaxes once he's done.
"Alright, we're good Sam."
"10-4 big guy, want me to run lights?"
"Yeah, that'd be good."
"Hey, Allyson, I'm going to go drive us to the hospital, okay?" She nods at me sleepily as I step out towards the driver's seat.

The night is foggy, and my lights echo back at me visually. I'm trapped in a psychedelic cloud of red and white that pulsates violently; I slow to a crawl, and Matt sticks his head up to see what's going on.
"Sorry, I just don't want to wreck."
"I'd rather get there late and alive than not at all." He smiles at me through the rear view mirror, and I silently thank him for being such a great partner.
When we arrive at the hospital, I help unload her from the back and she smiles at me. Sheeting her over to the bed in the trauma bay, I return the smile.
"Feel better, princess," I say as I squeeze her hand again. I wait with her until I see her parents arrive, and I let my hand be replaced by her mother's.

"Peds calls are always the worst, huh?"
"Yeah," I say wearily, "I wish that commercial were true."
He gives me a puzzled look, and I wave him off lazily.
"Don't worry about it."


Sleepless Nights

"Station 1, chest pain, 1183 Robin Road."
I look over at Eric and sigh. I had my things in hand, ready to go back to my bunk room for the night.
"Damn, and Golden Girls was just starting," he says with a wink.
Drew makes his way out of the dark bunk room, throwing on a shirt lazily.
"I've seen more of your chest than those of the guys I've dated," I say laughing.
"Yeah, well..."
"I'm just saying. You spend a lot of time in my presence with little clothing."
Eric looks over at me and shakes his head.
"Let's just go," Eric says as he climbs into the drivers seat.
"Shoddy!" I yell loudly, and I can hear it echoing in the bay.
"Aw, hell," Drew replies.
I check the address again. Robin Road is the kind of place that you usually check to make sure PD is coming with you on scene. It's two in the morning, and I consider asking Eric if he thinks we should ask for PD to accompany us. I reconsider and lay my head against the window sleepily.
As we arrive, I wrestle on a pair of gloves and head towards the door. Eric pushes me behind him as he knocks on the door from behind the wall.
The door swings open with his knock, and I see a woman sitting on the couch with a man who appears to be sleeping. She's clutching her chest and holding her head in her hands, and he's...well, he's not doing much of anything. I find it a bit strange that her husband, or whoever he is, can barely keep him awake while she may be having a heart attack right next to him.
Eric runs through all the normal stuff--SAMPLE, OPQRST, the works. As I'm getting vitals, I catch some of her answers.
Her pain is a 10 out of 10, she has dull, crushing chest pain that radiates down her left arm, she's never felt anything like this before, yadda, yadda, yadda.
Eric can't do anything on the monitor yet, so we get going in case she's having the big one.
"Drew, can you and Sam get the stretcher?"
"Oh, I'll just walk," she says standing up, "not a problem."
I wonder silently if it's because she's obese and doesn't want to be embarrassed by us calling for lift assist, or what her motives might be. By now, it's no longer an issue as she's climbed into the back of the ambulance and strapped herself in.
The rest of the ride is uneventful. I sit awkwardly as Eric calls the hospital.
"Do you think this could be because of my air conditioner?"
"I'm sorry?"
"Do you think I could be allergic to something coming out of my air conditioner? I just moved to that apartment, and now that I'm in the back of the ambulance, my pain is like a 6."
"Oh, I uh...I don't know."
"That's a negative for nitro and aspirin," I hear as Eric finishes talking to the hospital.
"10-4, negative nitro and aspirin. Clearview Medic 1 clear."
As we bring her in (walking again upon her request), I see the nursing staff roll their eyes.
"Strange," I think to myself as we get her situated in the room.
"Feel better," Eric and I say over our shoulders after he gives report to the nurse.
As we restock the medic and remake the stretcher, one of the nurses comes out to see us.
"Why did you bring her in?"
"Um...because she called us?" I'm not really sure what to say to that kind of a question.
"Aren't you all from Clearview?"
"Yeah, why?"
"She lives in Brook Forest."
"No, she just moved out our way last month," I say, remembering the strange talk about the air conditioner.
"Probably because Brook Forest stopped hauling her to us," she replies.
"What do you mean?"
"She was here over 100 times in the past year for the same substernal chest pain."
"All times by ambulance," I ask, absolutely incredulous.
"Yep. Might want to call dispatch and let them know," she laughs, "Your call volume's about to go up. Night, guys."
"Night," we all reply miserably.
By the time we clear from the hospital, I see our patient and her companion walking out of the hospital.
"Discharged before we can even leave," Eric says.
"There's just something wrong with that," I say as he puts the medic in gear, "This isn't why I got into this business."
"Here's to more sleepless nights," Eric says, hitting his soda against mine.
"Here, here," Drew sighs from the back.


Tornado (pt. 3)

The rest of the day is uneventful. I spend an hour or two sleeping on the couch trying to make up for the sleep I didn't get the night before.
Finally, 24 hours after I arrived, I grab my things and head for the door. I hear the tones drop for a call, but I just keep walking; there are other people to take it.
I drive home thinking about everything and nothing at the same time. When I walk into my apartment, I realize that I don't really remember the drive back. I shrug and unlock the door. No one's home, and I'm not sure if I'm happy about that or not. I feel the urge to talk, but I know I'd have nothing to say.
I carefully take off my uniform and throw on a robe. I walk into the bathroom and start the shower, but then I change my mind, flipping the water over to the faucet and closing the drain. I haven't taken a real bath in years, but I feel that today it's appropriate.
My feet ache from the work boots I've been wearing for hours, and my back aches from sleeping on the couch and awful bed at the station. The bathroom fills up with steam, and it's a little hard to breathe. Turning off the water, I climb into the tub and let the water creep up my legs.
Going under water, I take a deep breath. I open my eyes and look up from the water. Dirt and debris floats above me, along with fuzz from my uniform. I sit up and look at myself. I'm covered in random dirt and lint, and I realize this bath isn't doing much.
Pulling my knees to my chest, I rest the side of my head on them carefully. Looking down, I see the tattoo on my hip. "Protect," it says, staring back at me.
"You didn't really do anything, did you," it taunts.
"Shut up."
"Whose life did you save? Is that old lady still alive? And what about the tornado? What good did your being there do?"
"Shut the fuck up!"
I slide back under water, realizing how crazy I'd seem if anyone heard me talking to myself. I close my eyes and let tiny bubbles escape from my lips. I'm floating to the surface, and the water moves away from my mouth, chilling my face as it evaporates.
I flick the drain open with my toe and watch as the water bobs up and down over my feet. The drain pulls my heel down softly, and I move my knees back up against my chest.
The water forms a little cyclone as it disappears down the drain. I look at it and think of the picture of my hospital with the tornado behind it. Kicking some water at it, I smile as it fades away.
If only it had been that easy yesterday.


Screen Name

I decided to make a screen name for AIM for this blog, because I'm tired of my yahoo eating people's emails to me. Not everything is spam, yahoo!

The screen name is OnTheClockBlog (wow, how original, I know). I'm online a lot of the time because I'm a) bored, b) writing papers and doing research, or c) updating the blog. So please, feel free to shoot me an instant message and alleviate some of that boredom!


p.s.--This is post number 100? Wow, weird.

Tornado (pt. 2)

"Station 1, 87 year old difficulty breathing, Dialysis Center on 293 West Main."
I check my watch--it's 6:50 in the morning. After some lazy math, I figure I've slept about 4 hours.
"Let's go, Sam," Eric says to me from the doorway.
"I'm coming, I'm coming."
"I'll drive so you can lace your boots up on the way, okay?"
As we pass the men's bunk room, I see Drew come out. He's shirtless and wearing boxer shorts, looking completely confused.
"Do I need to..." he pauses, yawning.
"No, we're fine. You have work in a bit." I laugh as he turns around and shuffles back into the dark.
I take a seat in the medic, and sigh. I hate taking the elderly to the hospital, because you never know if or when they'll be coming home.
One time, I took an unresponsive woman to the hospital. She was fine in the morning, and by the time we arrived, she had a dilated left pupil and a constricted right pupil. She died two days later. I'll never forget the nurse in the convalescent home standing in the corner, crying hysterically into a tissue as we took her out on the stretcher.
These calls weigh on you, and part of me really hates being a part of people's final moments. But I know that of all people, I'm a good one to have there.
As we go into the Dialysis Center, it's obvious that this woman isn't doing well. She never started today's treatment because the nurse was too concerned about her and called us.
We waste little time and I get en route to the hospital. Because it's the day after the tornado, we opt to go to the other hospital so as to keep from stressing the damaged one too much.
I drive emergency to the hospital, my lights flashing wildly and my siren screeching as I approach an intersection. I know it's going to be a bumpy ride as we approach the bridge, but I'm more concerned about getting her there in a timely manner.
I'm in a zone--focused and shutting out everything else that doesn't matter at that moment. The tornado, my exams, boy problems--they're all gone, lost to the clarity of my mind at the time. I barely hear Eric as he says something to me.
"What," I ask looking in the rear view mirror.
"I need you to get me there quicker," he repeats and I see a look of panic spreading across his face. He turns around and I see a bag-valve mask sitting on the seat, opened and ready to go.
"Christ," I mutter under my breath.
As we arrive, I leap out of the driver's seat and head towards the back. A paramedic from the city helps me get her out as Eric continues disconnecting her from all the instruments. The paramedic shoots me a look that echoes Eric's, and I feel so small.
I hate taking the elderly to the hospital, I think again, allowing myself out of that focused zone.
Within moments of our arrival, she's hooked up to a nitro drip and put on CPAP so she can breathe. She squeezes my hand as we leave as if to thank me, and I smile back at her, hoping I don't share that panicked look.
"I thought she was going to code back there," Eric says as he peels off his gloves.
"I was doing the best I could to get you there."
"You were fine, I just panicked. If she had arrested, I would have had you in the back with me as we called for back up, and I really didn't want that to happen."
"You and me both. How long do you think she has?"
"Renal failure and now this? A few weeks tops."
My heart sinks, and I stare at the ground. Just then, Good Morning America returns from commercial in the EMS room, and I hear something about the tornado.
"Yesterday afternoon, Suffolk, Virginia was hit with a devastating F3 tornado. It's estimated that 145 homes are to be condemned, and a state of emergency was declared earlier." They show pictures of firefighters doing search and rescue and I laugh. It's not often you see your friends and colleagues on national TV.
"Our thoughts are with them. Thank you, Matt. In other news, Miley Cyrus is the focus of a hot-button issue. She was photographed in a provocative manner for a magazine article hitting stands soon. So what do you tell your kids?"
I'm dumbfounded. I watch for another 5 minutes as the TV prattles on about Miley and her bare back.
"A tornado hits Suffolk, and you spend maybe 20 seconds reminding the nation, but Miley Cyrus shows some skin and oh shit this is serious business."
"Hmm?" I see Eric lift his head up from his PPCR narrative, and I shake my head.
As we drive back to the station, I am silent. I think about our patient, Miley Cyrus, and the condemned homes. I slide open my phone and dial my mom.
"Hey Mom, just wanted to tell you I love you."
"Is everything okay?"
"Yep. Skies are blue--you'd never know we just had a tornado."
"I mean...are you okay?"
"Yeah, I'm fine."
"Alright, let me know if you need anything."
"Will do. Love you."
"Love you too."

A Little Saturday Inspiration

On April 17th, I was fortunate enough to hear Dr. Kent M. Keith, the CEO of the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership speak at my university. I hate being trite, but I'm not kidding when I say that his speech changed my life. I left that room feeling so refreshed and inspired.

His speech on servant leadership was great. What was so inspiring, however, were his "Paradoxical Commandments," which he wrote when he was my age. I don't know how to explain it, but they just made sense.

I emailed Dr. Keith and asked him if I could post them here on my blog. So, with his permission, I give you The Paradoxical Commandments.

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.
(c) Copyright Kent M. Keith 1968, renewed 2001

These are going to be posted in my room, they're written in my notebooks, and I carry them in my purse. Maybe just reading them without hearing him speak won't do that much for you. But I thought I would share in the hopes that these would mean something to you, too.

If you want to learn more about them, you can visit his website.

Let me know what you think!


Chris Cooley

Imagine my complete joy when I found out that Chris Cooley had a blog. Cooley is my favorite Redskins player as you can read here and here. Finding this blog was like an early Christmas present.

From what I can tell, it's definitely him writing. This is the most exciting thing ever. Well, maybe not ever, but I'm pretty stoked.

I'm going to meet him at the Redskins Beach Blitz. I'm freaking out. I really, really want to comment, but I'm so afraid of making an ass out of myself.

Well, anyway, I had to share the complete happiness that is Chris Cooley and his blog. The rest of the post about the tornado is coming later. My 'skins come first :)

Stay safe out there,


Blast From the Past

So I was surfing around facebook randomly and came across this picture from first semester of freshman year. Eric was in the room, watching TV with us or something when my former roommate broke out the camera. I then found myself tackled and restrained by my future partner.

It's so weird, because at this point I wasn't even aware that I was about to become an ambulance driver or an EMT. I certainly never dreamed that I'd be trusting this kid with my life.

But regardless, I love this picture. Just thought I'd share the love :)

Take care,

Of Fallopian Tubes and Baby Geese

So there's this statue at one of the hospitals we transport to. It stands at the front of the Emergency Room entrance with grandeur, spotlit and with benches around it (in case you feel the urge to sit and reflect upon your life after having seen it, I suppose).
(This one taken last night)

I don't know what it's supposed to be, but I do know what it is. It's a gigantic fallopian tube. Now, I've known this since the first time I saw it, but I never knew anyone else agreed with me. Enter my roommate, Liv, who says to me one day "you know how there's that little pond thing right next to the statue of the gigantic fallopian tube?" I could not contain myself. There's another person out there who knows what it truly is! We shared a brief moment where we compared fallopian-tube-statue notes and our communal joy.
(This one taken in the morning)

Well, she continued with her story.

"So when we were returning from the hospital, there were some geese with their babies! They were so cute!" She pulls out her camera and proceeds to show me the pictures of the adorable baby geese.
I promised her next time I was at that particular hospital, I'd take a picture of the GFT (gigantic fallopian tube) and post it here. Well, I did that, but then I also saw the geese! I was so excited.

Count the number of baby geese you see in this picture. I can see about 6. This picture was taken Saturday or perhaps Sunday. Today, there were 3. Very sad. When I told Liv, we then shared another moment, but this one was to remember our poor little geese friends.

Sadly, I didn't get a picture of the three remaining babies, but that's basically okay, since I have the pictures she took.
"You're welcome to use the pictures from my camera!"
"Yeah, but then it'll seem like there are more living than there are..."
"You could...*giggles*...you could put the 'black boxes of death' over them!"
"That's terrible! I love it."

Rest in peace, little buddies!


My Partners

More quotes from the best partners on earth.

On the way back from the hospital:

Me: "Hey, where is the jake-brake on this thing? I hate driving emergency with it on."
Eric: "What!? I love it! Like...you don't have to use the real brake. See?" *takes his foot off the brake as we approach a stop light (with other stopped cars)*
Eric: *slams on the brake* "So...that didn't really work."
Me: *looks at the five inches of space separating us from the car in front* "Yeah."

On the same trip back:

Eric: "That guy has his blinker on; I don't think he realizes it."
Me: "Ugh, that's so annoying."
Eric: *picks up the PA radio* "Your blinker is on."
Truck: *turns blinker off*
Me: "Well...what do you think the odds are that Chief is going to get a call about this?"
Eric: "Pretty damned good."

Just now, sitting on the couch:

Me: *laughing hysterically about something that just happened*
Eric: "What the hell is so funny!? Do you want me to throw this radio at you?"
Me/Drew: *laugh harder*
Eric: "I swear to god, I'll go get my HT 1000 and throw it at you."
Me/Drew: *laugh even harder*
Eric: "I'm going to kill you two." *surfs channels* "Oo, wanna watch Golden Girls?"
Me/Drew: *cannot breathe laughing*