I don’t like to take passengers in the ambulance with us to the hospital. They are a distraction to me in the back, the patient, and to my partner, who theoretically could be referred to as an “ambulance driver.”
Gasp. I said it.
But yeah, I prefer not to take riders. I don’t really mind if a husband or wife wants to ride along, or a parent of a young child wants to ride along, but that’s pretty much where I draw the line.
So we get called to an office tower for a “female in her 20s with difficulty breathing.” I know what you are thinking, and no, it was not a panic attack. Turns out the office was painted or something, and the fumes triggered her asthma.
Poor girl. (She is better now.)
Her boss approaches, wearing an ill-fitting pantsuit with an air of attitude about her.
“I’m going to ride to the hospital with her in the ambulance.”
“Actually, we only take riders if they are family. You are welcome to follow in your car if you would like. Maybe you could give her a ride back to her car when she gets discharged?”
“No. I’m going to ride in the ambulance with her.”
Now, in general, I don’t appreciate when people tell me what they are going to do, I prefer that they ask me. Unless it’s vomit related. Then a person is free to tell me they are going to vomit.
“Well, actually, we have a policy that says only family members can ride to the hospital in the ambulance, I’m really sorry.” I catch the eyes of the patient during this conversation and I can see her trepidation. Something is on her mind, and I have the feeling that I am doing the right thing for the patient.
“I want your supervisor’s phone number!” she yells at me.
“No problem” I say, handing over a business card with the requested phone numbers.
After loading the patient in the ambulance and giving her some medications to start fixing her situation, I ask the patient about her the medications she takes aside from the asthma. She is a healthy appearing woman, so I don’t expect too much.
She starts rattling off medications that sound familiar, but that I don’t hear often. I stop writing, and look at her as her office building begins disappearing from the rear windows.
“So what kind of medical problems do you have?” I ask her.
“I have asthma.”
She hangs her head a bit and her voice cracks. “HIV.”
“How long have you known?”
“Only a few months” she replies, and her eyes begin to water.
We spend the next twenty minutes checking vital signs, talking about what she does at work, and (seriously) the sequestration crisis.
As we pull onto the hospital ramp, she looks at me, her eyes asking the question.
“You aren’t going to tell my boss, are you?” she asks.
“I wouldn’t tell your boss, even if I was allowed to. Nobody here will tell her anything, and they will keep her out of your room if you want.”
She seems relieved, and I am glad that I could comfort her in some way.
Somebody tell me that she would have felt comfortable telling me such private information with her overbearing boss ten feet away.
It wouldn’t have happened.
So only family rides.