Roosters, Lunch Whistles and Call

Wednesday, August 10 2005

What, you ask, do these things have in common? Why, they tell you what time of day it is, naturally.

Take roosters. Conventional wisdom has it that when they crow, ’tis morning. When the lunch whistle blows, it’s lunchtime. These unscientific phenomena toll the time, in an imprecise and general way.

And calls?

DTs covered a shift for a friend the other evening, and didn’t turn a wheel, but almost did, and all because It Was Time – time for Rounds, that is.

A well-known but not well-thought-of nursing home in the region dialed 911 at about 02:30. We heard it over our station address system, as we hear all dispatches in the county, even though no response from us was required. There was a patient in said home in room number X, “Oxygen saturation below 60%, difficulty breathing.” This is a very low level of oxygenation, with dire consequences for the patient if untreated. Off goes a nearby station’s EMS crew, to the rescue.

Five minutes go by, and another tone sounds. Same home, room Y (where Y is the room five doors down from X), for an “elderly male patient, temp 104 F, diminished LOC.” Yet another emergency. To the rescue then, next-closest bambulance (but not us).

Is a sinister, masked-and-caped figure darting from room to room in this facility, visiting ill on all? Not a bit of it – it is a Care Giver, making Rounds – passing from room to room, noting problems and dialing 911 as each is encountered. At least, this is my guess.

Ah, that facility. DTs was minded of the time, as a fresh-faced EMT still in school, when he was called into that fine place for a diminished LOC patient. On entry we noted a patient gray of face, looking in fact terrible. “Airway here, I’ll check pulse,” exclaimed Our Hero, but the facility LPN accompanying us stopped us with a wave. “Oh, not him – he died this afternoon. Your patient is in Bed 2.”

Brrr. Meanwhile, tones sound again as the low-saturating patient is now a Code – the call goes out for higher-level Medic response, an Engine crew for manpower (either CPR or bambulance-driving)…

We are all attention, and yet are not called to this establishment. Either everyone else residing there was in a fine state, or the LPN went back to the nursing station to relax without finishing Rounds – understandably, as it had been quite a trying morning so far.


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