Stethoscopes are personal. I know this through personal experience, and so do you. My stethoscope of choice was a gift from my wife, and I was truly heartbroken when it was stolen.
It wasn’t “put in a bag by accident” or “misplaced.” It was stolen, and the thief knows it. I only got my beloved auscultation aid back because I threatened, and was prepared to go through with, a myriad of attacks on the thief.
It’s almost sad to be so emotionally attached to an inanimate object. But at least you, the reader, understand.
So, when I arrived to work several weeks ago, and found a stethoscope that didn’t belong in the ambulance during the morning check off, I promptly turned it in to our intrepid supervisory staff. They tend to be pretty good about reuniting people with lost items.
If you will indulge me for a moment, please: Why do we leave so much stuff on ambulances? I’ve found computers, books, cell phones, e-readers, pants (I didn’t ask), safety vests, fingernail clippers, gum, stethoscopes, blankets, money, sunglasses, reading glasses, prescription glasses, drinking glasses, phone chargers, GPS units, and several partridges in pear trees in ambulances during my career. If it’s not mine, or my partner’s, or it doesn’t belong on my truck, it gets turned in before leaving the station.
What on earth are we doing with all that stuff, and do we really not notice when we leave something? Oh, and thanks for the piece of gum.
Back on track now. This was a fancy stethoscope. One of those Littmans that those fancy doctors wear. Not the doctors who run around the hospital wearing scrubs. No, I’m talking about those fancy-pants doctors who wear starched shirts, ties, shined shoes and fancy pants. They usually have a handful of letters embroidered after their name on their impeccably white coat. And cuff links. Because they are too good for buttons.
This thing easily cost someone $200. And it was nice and used. It showed some signs of obvious wear. Unfortunately, there was no name tag on said stethoscope, and there wasn’t any engraving anywhere I could see.
I knew full well it didn’t belong to either one of the off-going crew members. I won’t elaborate on how I knew such a thing; it’s not that important.
Regardless, I handed it to my supervisor, hoping that it would one day be reunited with the neck it belonged behind.
Fast-forward to this afternoon, while standing in a patient’s room awaiting a nurse, doctor, janitor, or basically anyone to sign my paperwork accepting my patient who had broken his toe after kicking a wall, when some big, burly, muscular looking dude comes in the room looking a little less than happy.
To save you much time, allow me to summarize the resulting conversation as such:
He was big and scary, and easily could have made me a trauma patient in short order. He wanted to know the exact circumstances of the stethoscope finding. He wanted to know the names of everyone who worked on my truck in the past few weeks. I was intimidated. This stethoscope was his, and was stolen off of his regular truck more than 3 years ago. (Did I mention he was scary big?) Then he thanked me for turning it in. Then he shook my hand, as I tried to put a manly face on, acting like his handshake wasn’t fracturing several phalanges.
I’m glad the stethoscope and paramedic were reunited. But it never should have happened like this.
Stethoscopes shouldn’t “walk off” of ambulances. We shouldn’t have to worry about our belongings being left on a truck.
I’m fully aware that 99 percent of EMSers don’t steal stuff. Those that do steal stuff deserve a swift kick in the ass.
Don’t be a stethoscope thief. And if you know one, call them out. To everyone.