People tend to personalize their EMS gear.

Lots of folk put a sock-like thing along the tubing of their stethoscope, sort of a hollowed-out weasel in da-glo orange. Googly-eyes pasted on, tufts of yarn hair, you know the thing. It’s a fun little addition which you can wiggle at the kiddies to distract them from needles.

It also separates your ‘scope from a crowd in the event all the scopes in the ER end up in one big box or whatever. This is a fate which so far is reserved for gunbelts in Westerns like the Magnificent Seven – “You want food? I give you food. The guns… the guns, they stay here!”, but there it is.

I have also seen, again available in da-glo orange, what can only be described as “bell condoms”. Kind of like having the chestpiece glove up before patient contact. These amount to stretchy slippers which fit over the bell-end of the stethoscope, the bit that actually contacts patients. Actually, these make good sense – if the patient is bloody or covered in mucus or whatnot one can get lung sounds, then chuck the contaminated bell condom.

And then we come to my Father’s Day present – the Stealthoscope.

27″ long, flat black, cool-as-all-hell looking. This is what the Stealth fighter would look like if it had little nubbins that went in your ears.

The chestpiece is a masterwork of sculpted black steel. There is no wrong way to hold it, and it morphs. The only way it could be cooler is if it was turned black by being affixed to the outside of the Space Shuttle and carbonized during re-entry.

Tubing – black. Binaurals – black. Ear tips – black.

As an FD present it was tricked out. My name was inscribed – “laser etched” – on the chestpiece, but an extra little monetary something ensured the use of a special black-wavelength laser, and the etching was performed at midnight. Delivery was delayed as they waited for a New Moon to perform the ceremony.

Aesthetically, putting a skinned muppet along the tube would be a Bad Idea, as I’m pretty sure the puppet would smolder, then burst into dark flame and vanish – an experiment I am loathe to try.

Besides, such a diversionary decoration is unneeded. The Stealthoscope can go in, get lung sounds, heart tones, bowel sounds, and a BP and be out long before the patient is aware of it. With the nubbins in your ears you are in a sensory deprivation chamber with a chestpiece-sized peephole. Outside noises do not interfere with your assessment.

We are in the taming process, the Stealthoscope and I. New ‘scopes have factory-straight tubing which must be “conditioned” to lie correctly across the shoulders, a process which takes time.

Constantly wearing it, while at work anyway, is a good thing. It accustoms me to knowing where the thing is at all times. My last Littman up and “disappeared” on me, and Steps Have Been Taken to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.

I ordered a third-party proximity alarm over a week ago. Neat thing, this: affix small Part 1 to any item, affix small Part 2 to your keychain or belt loop. If parts one and two ever separate by more than 10 feet, both start chirping. No more leaving the scope at a facility, or losing it on-scene. Black, of course.


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