On Being Leadethed Beside Still Waters

Thursday, January 27 2005

Shift started at 18:00, but due to my work schedule Wednesdays I can’t be there until 21:30. For three and a half hours my ambulance is either unstaffed, or my captain appoints someone from the fire side to act as lead EMT in my place. This is not, as you might know, a coveted position for the fire guys – they’d rather run fires.

This week, the ambulance was staffed. I had my pager, as usual, so I could while at work get a “feel” for what Prince Willy County is up to that day. From 18:00 to 21:30, prior to my arrival, the ad-hoc crew ran:

  • auto accident, “hit and run” (car vs. car, not car vs pedestrian, fortunately);
  • standard auto accident with one person c/o neck pain;
  • fire alarm sounding (for which we hang with the fire guys Just In Case);
  • unconscious at an exercise facility (when laymen report unconscious – could be more);
  • octogenarian ALS sickness (sounded severe);
  • another fire alarm, “house foggy and smells funny”;
  • highway accident, 18-wheeler vs. car;
  • auto accident, T-bone with airbag deployment (quite an impact, then);

“Wow, DTs”, I hear you gush, “You certainly missed a lot of calls!”. Indeed. Whenever my pager buzzed I’d read the message and start dancing from foot to foot as I glanced at my watch, “hurr ree uuuupp 9:00!” – never doing so of course when a patient was around.

21:00 arrives. Since it is obvious, from the way things are going, that I will never have an opportunity to eat this night, I swing by a McDonalds.

I think it’s called a “snigger” or “snicker” – that semi-sneeze sound that people make when they cover their mouths while trying to suppress a laugh. Call it a snigger. Above me, then, cosmically echoing, came the first Snigger from the gods of EMS.

This particular Micky’s had some sort of convoluted “access road” which didn’t access it, and the point where access seemed logical was marked “Exit->”. Ah, so desu. By avoiding that and continuing on in search of “Enter->” I was handily thrown right back onto the highway. So long, Micky D’s.

Not a problem, that’s why belts have notches. Undaunted, DTs arrives at the station. Lo, his crew has not yet cleared the hospital from their last call and have not returned. The Captain wants his fire guy back and the fire guy, now having attended two fire-guy-type calls whilst chained to the ambulance, is in all probability ready to get off the thing. Captain calls the crew on a cell phone: “DTs is arrived; come home and get ‘im.”

Cheering below decks on the bandaid box as it backs into the station. In moments places are switched, thanks are rendered (me to fire guy – for fire guys, bandaid box duty is an ordeal) and we’re Ready.

Fortune smiles on DTs, for the ambulance crew has not yet eaten dinner. Except that it is now past 22:00 – those members who are not “full fledged” for reasons of age or training must depart, to run another day. It is down now to DTs and his trusty driver. “Good golly!” thinks DTs, “With only us two we shall certainly have our work to do this evening!” Fortune’s smile grows wider.

Fortune then sniggers as the valiant crew ride off in search of sustenance, figuring Wendy’s is Good Enough, and besides they boast we may Eat Late.

Fortune laughs outright. No, actually, we may not eat late, as only the drive-thru is open past 22:00 and ambulances don’t fit in drive-thrus. We weren’t about to walk through it (it was Damned Cold) and so we went to a convenience store which maintains a built-in Deli corner – normally first choice, but it was farther than was Wendy’s.

We arrive, order, and are in the checkout line when the Tones Drop (Fortune, meanwhile, ROFL) and abandon all to save:

  • a 50 yo male complaining of “dizziness” and “nausea” after consuming 26 beers.

I hear you say, “That might be a medical emergency, though, DTs – alcohol poisoning, maybe!” But it wasn’t – the time period over which it was consumed, patient size and other factors which made it BLS where the L stands for “space”. We transport, however, and return to the Deli, and are finally able to pick up food and return to the station.

Almost. Another call on the way home, which while it takes over an hour ends in a patient refusal. DTs is able to laugh at Fortune: “Ha! The Deli was out of hot roast beef the second time around, Fortune! Mine was a cold hoagie, and my little driver’s, too! Calls cannot hurt our food!”

And that was that. Fini. Done. No more calls, not one.

Proving, I suppose, that it is never wise to laugh at the gods of EMS.

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