Master of Disguise

EMS is never out of place. For the most part, we feel equally comfortable in all situations. We can perform CPR at the bus station on one call, and on the very next call be at the Chez Chic asking Baron Von Strappon if this is the first time he’s ever passed out face-first into the canapes.

But that’s when we’re working. Social situations, non-emergent situations, things are slightly different.

And it was a non-emergent situation in which DTs found himself last week, feeling very much out of place indeed.

An email arrived not too long ago proclaiming a Virginia Office of EMS seminar on the subject of Isolation and Quarantine.

“What ho!” said DTs, reading. “In the transport gig, we must conceivably take folks to and fro in isolation, this will be a fine seminar to attend. Not only do those going get Continuing Education Credits, but there there is food and it is free. Reserve my spot!”

The day arrives. Since DTs is taking only a half-day from work (trading in accrued paid-time-off from his own pocket) he is dressed for Action, rather than Style, the better to hit the streets at the conclusion of the festivities.

Now, DTs is not a seminar noob. In his ComputerMan persona he has attended many a seminar, throughout the country. Enter therefore the meeting hall with some bravado.

Registration – check, there is the table. Avail oneself of a sticky, write name on same, plaster to chest. Shun those who embellish their nametags with rainbows, smileys, and unicorns – this is serious business.

A binder, thick with Powerpoint handouts. Good on them, very together. Waltz into the meeting room. There are about a dozen tables, with ten or so chairs per, so attendance should be around a hundred, hundred fifty folks. As yet he spies fewer than a dozen people milling about. The breakfasty things are plentiful.

Sit and munch, slurp some coffee, flip through the binder.

DTs medic sense starts to tingle.

People are beginning to filter into the room, but the decibel level is much too low, could that be it? DTs scans the room unobtrusively.

There are suits, yes, that is expected.

There are police officers, in the kind of outfits they wear to Talk to Press;

Here is a doctor – but not just a doctor. The Doctor Who Runs The Biggest Hospital;

There are EMS and fire uniforms, to be sure – ChiefWear.

There are badges.

Lots of badges.

DTs is the only one here with a glove pouch on his belt and trauma shears sticking out of his pockets.

Oh shit oh dear. This is Executive Level stuff, not the nuts-n-bolts seminar DTs envisioned. Gulp.

This is no good. This is no good. Somebody’s going to creep up behind me and tap me on the shoulder and tell me to leave, in front of the 150 most influential EMS folks in Virginia. Besides me, the lowest rank here is Mere Chief of A Countywide EMS System. I think the waiters have Field Surgeon Critical Care Flight Medic patches.

“Excuse me,” the maitre-de will say. “Come with me, sirrah. Perhaps Cook can find you a little something in the kitchen, before we escort you to the gate.”

“Who was that rapscallion?” a Chief will ask.

“Oh, that was DTs,” the Governor’s aide will say with a wave of his spectacles.

“Re-ally! He shan’t run calls in my system!”

“How droll, Percivel,” another will say, “Absolutely no one would expect you to let him.”

“Ha ha ha ha ha…”

A tap on the shoulder-

“Holy shit!”

“Sir,” asks a waiter, “May I take your empty plate?”

“Uh, yeah, yes, sure, thanks, thank you, man.”

Stay cool, DTs. Exhibit that courage-under-fire that has made your name a household word in EMS. Remember that BLS instructors state-wide recommend their students write “WWDD” on the back of their nitrile gloves. Indeed, What Would DTs Do?

All baloney, of course, but I chuckle to myself and my tension lessens. I begin to enjoy myself.

And really, except for being way, way above my pay grade, this was a Very Neat Seminar, complete with Group Scenarios and things.

For instance, after all the presentations, there was a group discussion and scenario involving an outbreak of Fubar Flu or some such. Now, my level of experience has me dithering over whether to wear an N95 mask or a respirator; at best, say a really bad outbreak, I might just buck up to my supervisor the idea to make one ambulance the Flu ambulance so we can keep our response times down by not completely disinfecting the unit just to pick up another flu sufferer.

These folk, however, were doing all kinds of stuff – setting up MASH units here, getting court orders there, cancelling flights at airports, sending state cops to pick up vectored individuals for testing. Have we got enough vaccine? No? You – call Colorado. Oh, and get Smitty, he can set up an Air Force jet to deliver it. No, not that one. The Secret Jet. It’s faster.

It was kind of like being a private in the Army and sitting in on a meeting between Roosevelt and Churchill and Eisenhower and Patton. Neat stuff, yes; informative, yes; that third-wheel feeling, though…

DTs knows when to shut up, so he never got started talking. Perhaps it helped, perhaps not, but no one escorted him from the premises.

And according to the VAOEMS site, there’s another seminar coming up…

That was some good coffee. I just might go.


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