Its Good to be The Driver

Thursday, August 25 2005

We EMS folk are a well-rounded lot, in many ways. For instance, we not only have to know what to do in the back of the ambulance, but also in the front.

To actually maneuver the ambulance on the streets, with a patient in back, one must (at least in VA) complete a class-and-test known as EVOC, or Emergency Vehicle Operators Course.

Easy to picture. Your instructor is the bad guy from Terminator II. He will sit in the “passenger” seat of the cab (called, in EMS, the “lead seat”) while you make the bambulance perform improbable feats through impossible obstacle courses. And he will snarl.

Oh, we all get through EVOC eventually, but until we do, we don’t get to drive the big Freightliner Monster Medics, which are big honkin’ bambulances weighing many tons – nor any smaller conveyance, if a patient is in it.

Now, if your crew consists of two people, one of whom has EVOC certification (let us designate this person by some acronym, perhaps, oh, DTs), and the other who has not, then it stands to reason that only DTs may drive the beast, which puts his partner in the back. With the patient.

Patient care is what we’re all about. But circumstances have conspired, and DTs Must Drive. On this call, we’ll be on the road for no fewer than five hours, such is the nature of Time and Space. His partner does a Snoopy dance and sing-song teasing about this.

We trundle up to the proper floor, down the corridor, and outside the particular room of the patient. The door is strangely ajar – usually the doors are wide open. From within, the sounds of anguish:

“WHAT have you been FEEDIN’ ME?” a male voice demands between meaty, uh, productive sounds. “WHY am I ALWAYS SH*TTING?” A nurse, her duties performed, hurries from the room.

DTs Who Must Drive laughs. His partner stares dejectedly at the floor.

“WHEN’S it gonna STOP?” asks the plaintive voice.

Another nurse strides from the room. “He’s all yours!”

Laughter is such a rare commodity in the hospital…

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