06 April 2006

It rolls downhill

So I've waited more than 12 hours to try and write about this, and I'm still annoyed enough that I'm not sure this will come out in a way that expresses what I'm really trying to say, but here goes anyway...

Yesterday, D and I were headed to the southern city our co. covers to help move ambulances from the repair shop back to the appropriate stations and pick up some paperwork. It is a 30 minute drive down there, and yes, we do it all the time even though there are ambulances and staff in that city which could conceivably do it. The weather was extremely nasty with rain/snow mix and poor visibility.

When we were at exit 7 on the highway, we received a call from dispatch that they wanted us to meet with a unit between exits 6 & 5 to pick up their patient because they were on-scene of a motor vehicle accident. From listening to the other radio traffic previously, the story was that a school bus had sideswiped the ambulance and the patient they had on board was headed back to the hospital after cancer therapy. No big deal, a patient only requiring basic care. The hardest thing about it was going to be getting him out of one ambulance and into ours without being run over or toppling the stretcher in the mud on the shoulder. When we get to the other ambulance, the first comment from the paramedic is "where are your coats?" Now, before you think I'm an idiot, I was wearing a coat. But not the neon yellow, reflective, signed/sealed/approved by the government coat officially issued to me by the company. That coat was hanging at home because it has gotten a little old to be mocked by every nurse and every co. employee I encounter for wearing it frequently. The comment from the other provider on the truck, not wearing his coat, "where's your coat?"

Shortly after we got there, the supervisor truck rolls up. We had swapped stretchers with the truck involved in the accident, and had the patient out on the side of the road, rolling him towards our truck. His partner, "don't you guys have your coats?" The supervisor then lit into us for not having our coats. In front of the patient. Who was being rained on and had just been involved in an accident.

The first couple of statements the supervisor made went uncommented by D and I, because really, there isn't anything either of us could say at this point that is going to satisfy him. He's really just looking to yell at someone because he's at the scene of an accident that is going to cause him a bunch of paperwork, and we're lowly EMT-Bs (and I'm still on probation until the end of the month) and thus a perfect outlet. Then, he gets very close to me and starts shouting something to the effect of "where the hell is your g-dd-mn coat?" I managed to control myself to only responding "not here" without adding the "obviously" that was waiting, and with the traffic and such on the highway, he probably couldn't hear quite all of the sarcasm inherent in the statement. He then proceeded down the stretcher to yell again near D, who responded "we're only a basic truck and we don't respond to accidents. my coat isn't here." This of course, pissed off the supervisor a little further, who then yelled some more about how that was no excuse, and blah, blah, blah, because quite frankly, I wasn't listening - I was busy trying not to roll the stretcher off the pavement into the mud or into the side of our ambulance since we had about 1" clearance.

D seemed pretty certain that we will get "written up" over the incident. And if we do, I'm gone. Getting written up during your probationary period is supposed to mean that you have not passed your probationary period, i.e. hit the road jack and don'tcha come back. But that isn't really what gets under my skin about the whole incident, because there are other places to work, and I doubt anyone is going to hold it against me that I got fired for not having my coat one day. What really irks me is that the entire situation was completely inappropriate. The first two non-supervisory employees taking us to task. The supervisor pitching a fit, including cursing, in front of the patient. Out of all the things that were going on right then, us not having coats was far and away the least of anyone's concern and yet everyone on that scene felt that attempting to humiliate us in front of the patient was the appropriate response.

I got home feeling too old for this B.S. I'll be 29 tomorrow and I don't need some power-mad yokel bitching me out on the side of the road like I'm 12. I also feel like $10/hr isn't really worth this, as I could probably work at Burger King for the same rate and not be in danger of being run over by a car at 65 mph. Yes, yes, I'll take my coat or vest from now on, this was approximately the 5th day in the 2 months I've been working that I didn't have my neon coat. But that isn't going to change the attitudes of the ALS providers in the company that shit rolls downhill and piles onto all the BLS providers.

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