Burn

Shaq and I are dispatched to a suicide attempt by carbon monoxide poisoning. The MDT says someone has been in their running car in the locked garage all night. The caller says the person is still alive, and that they have turned the car off, and opened the garage door.

PD has us staging down the road.

It’s barely 5 in the morning.

We didn’t get breakfast this morning.

And I haven’t tucked my shirt in yet.

PD clears us to come in to the house. They gave me just enough time to tuck my shirt in.

As we get close, one of the cops stops us in the street.

“This guy is being a jackass, and he might have a weapon in the car or something. So just hang out here for a little while, cool?”

You don’t have to tell me twice. “Cool, bro. Just let us know when to do what.”

So Shaq puts the ambulance back in park. I start to wonder what the hospital is serving for breakfast in the cafeteria. Maybe they’ll have those cheese grits again. Or the hashbrown casserole. My culinary contemplation is interrupted by a knock on Shaq’s window.

Some guy in a bathrobe obviously needs some attention.

“Yes, sir, can I help you?” asks my partner.

“Yeah. What’s going on up there?” pointing at the house in the cul-de-sac. “What happened?”

“Nothing, really. The police are taking care of everything.”

“Well why is the ambulance here?”

“I’m not really certain, sir. I imagine that someone is sick.”

“Well, what were you dispatched to?”

“I’m not really certain I can tell you that.”

“Don’t you know who I am?”

Shaq looks at me. I shrug. I’ve only halfway been paying attention to their conversation, anyways. “No, sir. I don’t believe we have ever met.”

“I’m one of your medical directors, Doctor Bathrobe.”

This just got interesting.

“Well, Doctor Bathrobe, you should certainly be aware of the fact that I’m not supposed to share any information with the general public. That could possibly be a HIPAA violation. If you would like to call dispatch, I am certain they would be happy to give you any information you desired.”

Lame excuses

My employer runs a paramedic program. When I say that the company runs a paramedic program, what I want you to take away from that is that the company supplies a physical location for a paramedic program, and students to fill the chairs.

But, they attached the words “EMS Academy” to it, so maybe it is sorta-kinda-official.

Whatever. It’s a moot point.

My employer runs a paramedic program.

Being one of the company’s Field Training Officers, I get to see the aftermath of the paramedic program, when the newly graduated paramedics spend several shifts riding with me. Some of them aren’t prepared, but most are.

I was having a talk with another FTO, Tony, while at the hospital a few days ago. This must have been early in a shift, because I actually cared about the topic.

Tony mentioned that he rarely sees the same paramedic student more than twice, and that each student does at least twenty rides at our company. He thought it would be wise for a student in our paramedic program to be ‘assigned’ to an FTO for the duration of their preceptor rides.

While we’re on the subject…our program is putting paramedic students on ambulances for their preceptor rides after three months of school. They don’t know how to read a monitor, and they aren’t allowed to perform any ALS interventions. What the hell is the point of riding for twelve hours on an ambulance if you can’t do anything?

Anyway.

Tony made a good point. After ten rides or so, there should be a pretty good rapport between an FTO and a student. They should be able to communicate openly with each other, so the student can get the most out of their classroom time, and their ambulance time. After twenty rides, any bad habits should be corrected, and the FTO can feel confident in his evaluation of the student. Alongside the FTO’s confidence in his evaluation, the course director can feel confident in the evaluations he gets from the FTO.

But instead, the students just ride whenever, and wherever. Rarely more than once with the same paramedic, or even with an FTO.

So Tony and I brought it up to the director of the program.

“Assign each student to an individual FTO. We have twenty-five students, and eighteen FTOs. Surely we can come up with a list of seven competent medics to fill the roster of needed FTOs. Once a student is assigned to an FTO, that student does all of their rides with that FTO. It only makes sense.”

We got a reply:

“Well, that would just be too hard, and we don’t want to make it any harder on the students.”

This is why I don’t care.

Lame-ass excuses.

Unconscionable

One of my coworkers caused the death of a patient. In layman’s terms, my coworker killed someone. There really isn’t much to discuss, or wiggle-room, or room for doubt.

That’s what happens when you act arrogant and talk a big game around veteran EMTs and Paramedics – your actions are scrutinized just a little bit more.

And it doesn’t help that my coworker doesn’t understand what she did wrong. She tries to defend it, when her actions scream negligence.

We’ve all seen the EKG. We’ve heard the report. We’ve heard the excuses. We know what happened.

A person is dead now because of the negligence of one of my coworkers. Sure, the patient may have died anyways, but my coworker assured that the patient would die.

And that lady still has a job.

And she won’t be fired.

Because she shows up to work on time.

I can’t respect management that allows that to happen.

I won’t respect management.

They are unconscionable.

Guilt trip

“You two work so nicely together.” says the dowager octogenarian, looking at Slimm. “It is nice to see two handsome young men who care so much about other people.”

“Thanks, ma’am. We’ve been together for quite a while now.”

“Oh? How long have you two been working together?” she asks.

“Going on four years now, ma’am.”

“Oh, that is delightful. You make a great team.”

“Thank you for your kind words. C and I are actually brothers, and partners.”

“I bet it can seem like you are brothers, working together for so long.”

“No. We are actually brothers.”

“But, but…you’re black” she whispers, furtively glancing around. “and, and…he’s white.”

“Yeah, well, C is adopted.”

Look here, Miss Bubbly

I get it. Your bubbly personality is part of your ‘shtick.’ Everyone understands, you were a housewife, but your husband was a meany-head, and you divorced him, and had to get a job, and for some reason chose EMS. Whatever.

And you like to make cute little jokes, thinking your personality will make up for your lack of experience or real-world knowledge. But they don’t.

Making jokes and trying to be all cutesy is just fine and dandy, at the appropriate times. But that time is not in the middle of a patient’s home while they are having a myocardial infarction. I needed a hand with vitals, IV, and meds, but you had to go pet Sadie instead.

Oh, you didn’t realize that’s what was happening?

Maybe you could shut your mouth and open your eyes. Pay attention. Look at the patient. Hell, I don’t know, maybe you could follow the cues of your paramedic partner, and the fire department medic. Our combined experience may not be exactly as many years as you are old, but we know what we are doing.

But at least the dog was happy, right?

Rhetorical

A “person shaking and cold after having an ultrasound” according to the dispatcher and the MDT

We are going by ourselves, and a quick glance at the directions tells me it might be a 15-minute ride. Just enough time to set my fantasy lineup for the weekend.

How do we know which house it is, if we are having trouble locating? That’s right, it’s the one with all the cars in the driveway.

Four cars this time.

Sure enough, some lady is sitting on a couch, shaking. She complains of being cold, and thinks this is some sort of a reaction to the ultrasound she had earlier.

I have already checked out, but we load the nice lady up anyways, and do a full workup.

Her pressure is better than mine, 12-lead is a sinus rhythm in the sixties, blood sugar is around 100, she’s afebrile, blah, blah, blah.

So we head on over to the hospital with, you guessed it, a guy following us in his car. He’s playing it tight, too. Less than one car length behind us, and he even has his flashers on.

Instead of brood over how stupid people are, I try to decide between starting Antonio Brown or Dez Bryant in my flex spot.

Before we can get this lady out of the ambulance, the follower is all up in Slimm’s face.

“What took you so long to get to the hospital?!”

“Nothing? It took about ten minutes.”

“Why didn’t you go emergency? Use the lights and the siren?”

“Because it wasn’t necessary? Because your wife’s vital signs are all just fine.”

“Hell, I could have brought her here in less time!”

“Okay…”

“Why the hell did I call an ambulance if I could have taken her to the hospital just the same?!”

“…uhh…”

Gotta love it when they answer their own questions.

Not even close

We’re posting. We have a new hire, and Slimm is in the back. From the sounds of it, he is in deep slumber. I’m pecking away on my computer.

“What are you doing over there?”

“Just writing.”

“Oh. What do you write?”

“I have a blog. I’m just writing some posts out.”

“Oh, you have a blog?”

“Yeah.”

“Where’s your blog?”

“It’s anonymous. I don’t put my name on it.”

“Oh. So, like, you write stories about EMS and stuff?”

This chick is brilliant. “Yeah, something like that.”

“Like, ohmygod! Are you Burned-Out Medic?!”

“Ha! Not even close.”

“OOOOH, I BET YOU ARE.”

I don’t think my mom even reads my blog. Heck, I don’t think my mom even knows that I have a blog.

Yonder

Yesterday, I wrote about how Slimm and I were discussing the definition of ‘yonder’ while on the way to a call to pick up a bossy lady.

Seriously, that’s what we do.

We suggest that everyone eschew the common, accepted definition of yonder, which can be found at dictionary.com. While it may be used to describe some “place, more or less distant; over there,” we propose a new definition:

yonder

[yon-der]

adjective

1. further than you can throw, but not too far to walk

“I’m going to head over yonder to pee. Holler if we get a call.”

Now you know.

Bossy

A lady fell in her home and hurt her hip. At least according to the MDT. Slimm and I debate the definition of ‘yonder’ on the way to her house.

We are met outside of a palatial townhouse but one of the fire gals. She is standing next to the truck with the bags and clipboard.

When one of the grunts has the clipboard, you know it is some serious bullshit.

“This lady fell ten days ago.”

“For real?”

“Yeah. Anyways…so she fell ten days ago, and went to the hospital. They said there was nothing wrong with her, and sent her home. Now she is in there demanding to go back to the hospital.”

“Whatever.”

After five minutes of moving this lady around and getting her outside her home, and onto the stretcher, then locking all the locks on the door, then getting her loaded into the ambulance, then hiding the key back under the statue of the cherub by the front door, we finally have her loaded into the ambulance, and I’m covered in sweat.

The South sucks in summer time.

“I want some water.”

“I’m sorry, ma’am, we don’t have any water in the ambulance.”

“Well, go back inside and get me a bottle out of the fridge.”

Now, normally, I am not opposed to giving patients water. Especially when I’m pretty sure there is nothing wrong with them, but one thing I am not is an errand boy.

“Ma’am, we aren’t going back inside your house to get a bottle of water. You will have to talk to the doctor when we get to the hospital.”

“Why aren’t we moving yet? Why is it taking so long to get to the hospital?”

“Because we just got you loaded into the ambulance, and then we were discussing your water request.”

“Well, if you aren’t going to get me any water, at least take me to the hospital.”

Later:

“I want you to call my doctor.”

“You can go ahead and call him if you would like.”

“I don’t have a phone, so you need to call him.”

“That is interesting. I don’t have a phone either.”

“I want them to put me on the fourth floor of the hospital.”

“That will be up to the doctors at the hospital.”

“No, that will be up to me.”

Just a few minutes later, after I call the hospital on the radio (since I don’t have a phone):

“Ma’am, the hospital says they are on diversion, and it might take a while for them to find a bed for you in the Emergency Room.”

“I don’t want to go to the Emergency Room, I want to go to the fourth floor!”

“But you have to go through the Emergency Room.”

“Take me home.”

We are literally almost there. I can smell the antiseptic, and see the hospital through the front. “What do you mean, ‘take you home’?”

“I don’t want to wait. I want to go right to a room.”

“What are you going to do when you get home?”

“I’m going to call 911 and have someone take me to the hospital.”

“Ma’am, the people that show up when you call 911 are myself and my handsome partner up front. That would just be a huge waste of everyone’s time.”

Thankfully, Slimm has been ignoring this lady, and has pulled up onto the ramp already. But she is still at it:

“I want you to call my son.”

“Ma’am, I will make sure to get you a phone when we get inside.”

“I don’t know his number!”

“Okay, I’m sure that you can call Directory Assistance, and they will help you find his phone number in this city of several million people.”

We wheel her inside and put her against the wall while we wait for a room assignment. The charge nurse looks over my shoulder and sighs.

“Oh crap. This bitch again?”

“So you’re familiar.”

“I took care of her like, last week. Wouldn’t quit bossing people around.”

“Sounds about right.”

“Put her in triage.”

“She is going to raise a big stink.”

“I don’t care. You need me to sign something?”

English major

A call for a “person in pain” about two blocks from our local hospital.

I decide to go ahead and finish my game of Mahjong on the computer while we are driving to the call, while Slimm opines on the situation awaiting us.

“Man, twenty bucks says she just walked out of the hospital, and wants to go all the way downtown.”

Knowing that our bets never involve the actual exchange of money, I accept.

“What’s going on?”

“I’m hurting everywhere.”

“Okay.”

“I want to go to the hospital.”

“Good for you, there is one right over there,” as I point to the hospital, about 100 yards away.

“No, I don’t want to go there. I want to go downtown.”

Slimm wins. Again. “Why don’t you want to go to that hospital right there?”

“They are mean to me. I just left there. I don’t want to go back.”

“Okay, then. Hop up here on the stretcher.”

Downtown is at least a half an hour away, so I have plenty of time for more Mahjong on the way. I’ve also started listening to Handel on the Law podcasts, and enjoy a brief show while I match tiles on the computer screen.

The radio report is made, and it was one of the best ever.

I wish you could have been there to hear it. I felt like such a hero.

“Umm, did you have to tell them that?” asks the person on the stretcher.

“Tell them what?”

“That I just walked out of the other hospital?”

“Well, yeah. It is kinda pertinent to the current situation.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means it is relevant, or germane.”

“Who is Jermaine? I don’t know nobody named Jermaine.”