There is a conundrum particular to EMS concerning Bodies. Not dead ones, O Ye Morbid, nor those of the patients whom it is our duty and privilege to gruntingly lift to cot.
The challenge is with our own.
EMS Man, him good, him strong, and it is well that this is so because, as you may imagine, the less care someone takes of his body, the more likely it is that we in EMS are going to need to lift it.
Morbid obesity, to name just one state a patient may attain, carries with it all sorts of related complications including heart disease, dyspneas of various forms, blood-sugar irregularities, stroke, etc, any of which may precipitate a call to EMS. Indeed, obesity itself may be a side-effect of a serious condition, but there it is. When the patient gotta go, the patient gotta go, and EMS gotta get ’em there.
Some EMS systems, therefore, implement PT or Physical Training into their daily routines. An ambulance crew (and of course the fire guys) show up at work, change into shorts and those famous gray T-shirts and run around a bit, do some weight lifting, stretching, and all that good-for-you jazz. Hoo-ah. Shower, change, and the crew is ready for the day, having increased both strength and stamina on the clock. PT done, crew clean, the previous shift stands down. The ambulance has been staffed while the incoming exercisers finished up.
Some systems, however, do not explicitly provide for that sort of warm-up. Arrive at work, punch in, and you may at any moment be toned out to a call, at any time.
The Unthinkable Scenario: The tones drop. “Respond to Chest Pain at 123 Wombat Avenue”.
1) Our Hero sets the barbell in its cradle and wipes face with towel, then
2) Strips hurriedly while running to the shower, then
3) Washes and dries quickly, then
4) Dresses, remembering trauma sheers, radio, stethoscope, Bat-Carousel Reversing Spray, then
5) Responds, somewhat out of breath but feeling Mean and Clean
There are individuals of both Experience and Speed, who can actually pull off that or a similar process and still beat you to the unit, but those of us who are Too New to go from Exercise to 60 in 3.2 seconds generally exempt ourselves from Physical Betterment, at least at the station. The alternative is to exercise in your BDUs, then subject the poor patient to your odiferous presence on the ride to the hospital.
“What’s this patient’s chief complaint,” asks the kindly Doc.
“Well,” you stammer, “It was Chest Pain, but now it is Shortness of Breath.”
“And Nausea,” pipes up the patient.
“Ah, DTs,” you shake your head sadly. “You are indeed shortsighted, and only Strong Drink can excuse your inability to grasp that exercise may be done AFTER one’s shift.”
Indeed. However, human nature being what it is, let us choose the likelier of two possibilities for a middle-aged Medic after a busy 24-hour shift:
a) Turn over the truck to the incoming crew, then change, and exercise for an hour;
b) Turn over the truck to the incoming crew, go home to family, get sleep.
Hmmmm. Tricky. The same applies to exercise prior to showing up to work. Does one get up and exercise, or hit the snooze button one more time, prior to running for 24 hours straight? The Strong of Will will be pounding the sidewalk, jogging past the draperies shielding DTs’ slumbering form, but there it is.
Certainly exercise is but one facet of good health. An EMT’s gotta eat.
We live in the fast lane. Fast cars, fast women, and fast food. Eating is personal time, done at the whim of Dispatch, who themselves operate at the Whims of the 911 System. So, if one wishes to eat, it must be done quickly.
While the alternatives in nutrition falling into that category are myriad, they are mostly not good for the Long Haul. There is Someone monitoring us, and ordering a meal which takes more than three minutes to prepare is a sure-fire way to generate a stat call.
Paying more than $5 for a meal will guarantee it will never be eaten – your calls will come continuously until what was a gourmet delight is now a decayed mulch in a Styrofoam take-out box. And don’t even try to get all the crews together for a sit-down meal.
So, what does all this mean? Due to our eating habits, impressed upon us by circumstance, exercise is almost de rigeur. And Exercise, for some including DTs, consists of what we can get while off-duty.
As such, exercise itself has been accompanied by enough free time surrounding it that the Computer Geek in DTs has reared his also-ugly head and compiled many a statistic and measurement, which I am sure are universally applicable and with which I shall bore you next post.