Over a delicious, yet artery clogging breakfast, our student rider tells us his story: always wanted to be a fireman, but only has a real chance of getting hired if he is a paramedic first, finished EMT school and was signed up for paramedic school before taking National Registry, never worked a single day aside from intern rides on an ambulance, and 9 months into his 13 month paramedic program. Already got all the alphabet cards, CPR, ACLS, PALS, PHTLS, NRP, yada, yada, yada.
Slimm gives me the side-eye that tells me not to pre-judge this kid. I nod and shrug my shoulders in response, and the “okay, whatever…” message is received.
It’s a quiet day so far and there isn’t much for the kid to do.
Until some helmet-less skateboarder face plants after trying to jump over at least a dozen stairs.
Seriously, if it weren’t for alcohol, genetics, or stupidity…
This is a messed up skater. Smashed face, extremities angled in ways they shouldn’t be, a chest that doesn’t rise symmetrically, an altered mental status, and irregular respirations, with blood and teeth filling the airway.
“Slimm, toss me the airway bag and suction, lets check out that chest, and cut these clothes off. Kid, I need a good rapid trauma assessment” I call out as we walk up, with first responders several minutes away.
The kid doesn’t move.
“Buddy, I need some help here. Rapid trauma assessment. Cut those clothes off, please.”
While Slimm assists ventilations, the airway has been suctioned, several teeth removed, and the airway secured with an OPA while I am preparing my intubation equipment.
Kid is still standing there.
“Cut this shirt off, please” I say, attempting to convey just a little more authority in my voice. “He’s probably going to have a pneumo we need to stabilize, if not a big flail segment.”
Hesitantly, he begins to cut the shirt off, seemingly taking the time to sever each and every thread individually. Meanwhile, the tube is in, first responders have arrived, and Slimm takes over the duties requiring the shears, and confirming both a large flail segment and absent breath sounds on the affected side.
The rest of the trip is a whirlwind of activity with a paramedic from the fire engine riding in back with myself and the kid, and the now unconscious patient. It is a short trip to the trauma center, and the hand off is smooth.
“What was that back there about, man? We needed some help, man!” asks/exclaims my trusty partner. “Where were you at?” Slimm is typically very quiet, and raising his voice is very out of character for him.
“I’m just here to watch, man.” is the kid’s reply.
“No, you aren’t. You are here to learn and take care of patients with us.” is my reply.
“Who told you that you were here to watch?” is the quizzical response from the thin, short, obviously irritated partner of mine.
“That’s just what I’m here for. I don’t really want to be a paramedic, anyway. I just want to be a fireman.”
Slimm turned and walked away. He had nothing more to say to the kid, but says to me: “Back to the station, man. We are going back to the station.” It was a quiet ride, with Axl Rose providing the soundtrack to the tense situation.
Next stop: the station, to the parking lot, more specifically.