26 September 2006

Office life

Once upon a time, I had an office at a place where other people worked. I didn't really like being there every day. Even further back in the dark ages, I was a cubicle dweller within a small maze of indistinguishable partition walls. I hated being there every day. These places had their problems like poor temperature control, bad lighting, annoying coworkers, complete lack of windows, inconsiderate people in large public bathrooms and so on. These places also had their positive sides like enjoyable coworkers to discuss work/gossip with, making me feel "adult" and "productive" because I actually left the house every day, free leftover meeting junk food, fastest internet connection known to mankind and so on.

Today is a work-from-home day, so I get to enjoy two large windows in my office, a cute office-mate who curls up by my feet and barks at the dreaded UPS and USPS delivery folks, an entire refrigerator full of food that is not labeled for someone else to eat (but also contains no free meeting food appearing a couple of times a day), good lighting, a comfortable desk, a private bathroom and so on. I'm also incredibly lonely because although my office-mate is cute, he's not so good with conversation and doesn't have any entertaining gossip about anyone.

I alternate between getting a million things done in an hour and not being able to concentrate long enough to get anything done in two hours. Sometimes, I see interesting things out my windows. Things like when the city crews came by and dug up all the manhole covers and replaced them with pavement. Weird because two days later, another crew came by and dug up all the pavement and re-paved, putting the manhole covers back in. Like when the city crew came by and painted little arrows and slogans on all the storm drains. Like the fact that the UPS man comes down this street and stops within 2 houses of us EVERY DAY. Like the day my much older neighbor, who usually walks around with a cane and a little rat-dog, came by on a scooter - with the dog riding along. (Why? Assuming he goes out partially for the exercise and partially for dog-related issues, why would you take a dog on a scooter? I'll never know.)

Sometimes, this quiet is a nice change from the vanbulance where I have to talk all day with a partner or patients, but right now it stinks because the low call volume lately means a lot of sitting around with nothing to do and my schedule hasn't been coinciding with the other ambulance people I enjoy talking to but rather with those that make me want to claw out people's throats so I'm not getting the usual social interaction at the station. Also, I'm kinda sad because D made it to the 911 trucks at the southern station starting next month so he isn't going to be around to talk to anymore either.

No point to all this, just feeling left out of the rat race in a weird way today and slightly overwhelmed by the big pile of work that a 19 page document can represent.

The rest of the story

So we had a couple of other ambulance calls with the FD on Sunday and suddenly our MIA third volunteer shows up. I, of course, made sure to get the story from his side on whether and why he was leaving. It's no good listening to the gossip when you could get the real story instead. Apparently, he asked for a leave of absence for this semester because he's taking 20 credits at school and didn't feel like he'd have time to respond as a volunteer. Management denied his request, so he submitted his resignation with 2 weeks notice instead. This was 2 weeks ago, so this weekend was his last shift with us.

Also entertaining was a spate of "suicide attempts" Sunday afternoon. Somebody blamed it on the football game(s), but who knows. It wasn't just our town though because we went to 2 different hospitals who were both complaining of the same patients.

I got to tech one attempter to the hospital who tried to run a garden hose from the tailpipe to the window of the car. FD measured carbon monoxide in the car and found no elevation at all. I had to work at it, but I was able to keep a straight face when the patient looked at me with the sad-puppy eyes and said, "I guess I didn't do a very good job, huh?" Yeah, not so much. The doctor at the emergency department actually complemented the FD for measuring the CO and me for reporting it because it cut down quite a bit of what they were going to have to assess the patient for at the hospital. I made sure to take no credit for it, because I didn't really have anything to do with that decision - but when you get updated from "suicide attempt" to "carbon monoxide exposure" by dispatch en route to the call, checking the levels is definitely on the to-do list.

Monday was pathetically slow at the ambulance co, my truck did 1 lift-assist for another crew, 1 transfer and 1 truck shuffle in an entire 8 hour shift. I did get some other work done and a little reading in so it wasn't a complete loss, but it is frustrating to feel like you spent the whole day just wasting time.

24 September 2006

On-call weekend - random thoughts

I've been on-call for the local FD this weekend. Saturday we did not get any calls. None. A whole town of people completely safe and healthy, or at least taking care of themselves, all day. Today we finally got a call - and I missed it. I was sitting next to my pager and somehow it didn't alert to the call. The first I heard of it was the ambulance signing off on scene, so by the time I called dispatch and found out where and what it was, then got dressed, in the car and headed the right direction, they were ready to transport. I was at the station for the second call, which was really nothing interesting, but at least I didn't have to take all the harrassment for missing another call.

Yesterday, we did training for how to hook a hose to a hydrant, how to use the radiation detectors, and helped one of the other volunteers learn to use the stretcher more efficiently - and all together it took more than 5 hours. But now I'm wise, or maybe just wiser, or a wise-ass, I'm not sure.

I also found out this weekend that one of the two guys that is on my "shift" as a volunteer has quit. Nobody quite knows the whole story, but he certainly hasn't been around today and word came from the chief that he was done...so I guess we're down to 2. Kinda sad to lose someone young like that who could've contributed for a long time, but for the particular guy in question, I'm not entirely surprised.

19 September 2006

Fiction snob

I've learned something about myself this weekend. After long thinking that grammar wasn't that important and reviling instructors who cracked down on me for little things like semi-colons...I was wrong. I'm no perfectionist but if you're going to publish something on paper that will linger indefinitely, you should at least try and master the basic rules of the English language.

Maybe someone noticed a recent increase in the pace books are turning over in my recently read side bar (probably not). I've been saving $$$ and borrowing books at the library. This is the first time in many years I've had both time and a library to do so. And I was suckered in. The library had a table full of books out by the front door with a cute little sign "Summer Picks!". I assumed this meant that someone in the library had read them and thought they were pretty good. Within the first chapter, I was looking at the book to see who in the world had published it...and couldn't find any information. This leads me to believe that it was a self-published deal which would clearly explain the inability of the author to write in proper English. In order to publish you should (at a minimum) have:
1. A story to tell.
2. A firm grasp of the difference between "your" and "you're".
3. Some idea of where the quotation marks go when several characters are engaged in dialogue.
4. The ability to write a coherent sentence.

The book I'm currently reading has 1, and sometimes 4. But it is entirely aggravating to read a book when I feel like I should bust out the red pen, mark it up and send it back for a re-write. It's too bad because the story's pretty good and it is set in the city I work in, so it is kinda funny to read about characters driving 110mph through the toll booth I pass through every day. I'm about halfway through and I will finish because if I can finish a book about WWII, I can certainly finish this one!

18 September 2006

Hard day's work

Well, actually the hardest thing about it was not getting myself in trouble - but that's not an uncommon problem for me. I picked up a detail shift on Sunday, which are things like the baseball games, races, and in this case a kids football game. 40 or so 6th, 7th, and 8th grade boys on each team smashing into each other with great joy and enthusiasm. Coaches seeming a little strung out, shouting at the kids about what play was called and where they are supposed to be. And four referees, one of whom was rather overweight and seemed the most likely candidate for needing medical assistance - until I saw that he doesn't take more than 3-4 steps during any play so he's hardly even breaking a sweat. Add in a few handfuls of parents and siblings for each team, a beautiful 80 degree, low-humidity, light breeze day and you have the makings of a delightful 4 hours of sitting around doing nothing while getting paid.

So how did I almost ruin the nirvana of EMS? I was posted in the front row of the stands, which meant being near a number of parents. After the first "varsity" game, some of the kids came off the field so the rest of the kids could play in the second game. The home team's center was apparently the son of the woman sitting closest to me, and he was talking with his mom after the game. Another toothless, redneck yokel (who I sincerely hope was not a parent, but probably was) came by to throw his two cents in.

"So XX, do you feel like a loser?" [nod from kid] "Well, you should. You and the whole rest of the team are a bunch of losers. You're twice the team those other kids are and you just stood out there and let them walk all over you. You guys weren't even trying. I hope you remember what it feels like to be a loser like this." [kid looking more hurt at every insult. mom just sitting there doing NOTHING]

At the first question, I was just stunned. As the yokel went on, I had to hold on to the arms of my seat to keep myself from getting up and saying something. I realized that there was probably little more embarassing to a 12-13 year old boy than having some woman he doesn't know stick up for him (since it implies he can't do it himself), but I don't condone child abuse, verbal or otherwise, and I'm saddened to think that the kid left thinking that it is okay as an adult to act like that because nobody told this yokel he was being inappropriate.

As an EMT, I'm responsible for patient advocacy - but I'm not sure where the line is for children who aren't my patients when I'm being paid to represent my company in full uniform. The first rule of detail work is don't rock the boat unless it specifically involves your patient or your safety. But isn't there some value to being a good citizen? Am I really going to just sit there if there's physical abuse? Shouldn't his mom have stood up for him?

15 September 2006

Real world overlap

So it finally happened...I think I found the blog of someone I met in the "real world". Sorta weird to think about reading someone's thoughts and opinions that I wouldn't normally be privy to in the course of the day. I don't know her personally and she's still fairly new at the ambulance company, but there are some unmistakable signs that this is the same person...first clue being the picture. I'm putting up a link because it might be interesting to anyone wondering what I'm in for if I ever get onto a 911 truck and because it's a good read. Enjoy.

13 September 2006

And then...I die

I've checked all over my uniform, but I still can't find the place where it says "Kill me" on it. Two partners in two days have tried to make the vanbulance one with another vehicle. Large other vehicles.

Partner #1 tried to get us killed by two separate semis. One he tried to pass in the right lane when the truck was making a right turn from the left lane. One just tried to run us over on the freeway.

Partner #2 tried to put a Yukon in my lap by turning in front of it. I swear to you, we were turning onto a 1-way road and he NEVER LOOKED the direction the traffic was coming. I was on the radio with dispatch and I thought I'd help him look since it was probably hard for him to see. Just as I turn to look, he starts to pull out, I shouted a naughty word and he looked at me like I was a crazy psycho and then FINALLY saw the 40 mph Yukon that was about to smash into my door. The worst part about it is that the guy is a total dink and spent all day bitching about all the other drivers and cutting people off, including commenting that he wished he were on his motorcycle so he could just cut between all the cars that were so annoying him.

Yes, I put my life on the line every day in this job - and it may have nothing to do with the patients.

p.s. And yesterday, I put my head on the line too because we transported someone with lice. L-I-C-E! I didn't realize anybody past 3rd grade got those, but ewwww, and they were sending her back to the same nursing home. Just for the record, we left the pillow there.

11 September 2006

Stupid call of the day

"Dispatch to 28. 28, head to [hospital X] to meet up with 6 and take staff back to [southern station]."
"28 to Dispatch."
"Go 28."
"Any additional information on where in [hospital X] we might find these people?'
"6 to 28, we are at the emergency entrance, meet us there."

Ooookay. So I get to drive 20 minutes each way to take a nurse back to her hospital because, why? Oh yeah, because 6 ends shift at 1700 and it was 1630 and dispatch doesn't want a paramedic truck out of service long enough to return this person they agreed to transport with a patient without thinking about how she's going to get back. Bad enough to be a taxi service for the patients, now we taxi staff too? Gotta love it.

Roll bounce

K and I were up early Saturday morning because we needed to insulate the attic. While going out to pick up supplies, we witnessed exactly the kind of incident that caused me to get my EMT certification in the first place. K and I riding together seems like an excuse for everyone around us to decide to wreck.

We were waiting at a stop light when a motorcyclist with the green light made a left turn into the right lane in front of us. Deciding to show off, he thought it would be a good idea to accelerate hard before he was even halfway through the turn. Bad idea. The rear tire slipped, gripped again for a heartbeat, and then slid out from under him. The motorcycle continued to slide down the road and off to the right shoulder. The rider hit the pavement on his left leg and quickly separated from the bike, and proceeded to bounce - left hip, head, chest, right shoulder, back - then slide to a stop. I'm sure he was very grateful that he was one of the few bikers in NH wearing a helmet and full protective gear.

About the time he stopped, we got the green light and pulled through the intersection to see if we could help. The other two left-turning cars also stopped, thankfully they were both far enough in front of him that nobody ran him over. By the time K got out, the guy was up and heading to pick up his bike. I stayed and called dispatch to send the ambulance, but before I could even finish explaining where we were and what happened, the guy was sitting on his motorcycle trying to start it. K said the guy swore he was fine, just a little road rash on the left knee, and refused to let anyone check him out. The guy then fixed his mirror and drove off. We were behind him down the road for a while, and he kept looking around at parts of the bike and himself, but he seemed like at least there was nothing too important broken. I'm fairly sure he ended up at the hospital some time that day because hitting the pavement at 25mph hurts, even if you're too embarassed about the whole scene to notice.

p.s. Yes, we finished the attic insulation and may save the $600 in heat in the first couple months this winter given the price of fuel and the fact that there was almost no insulation in the attic when we started.

08 September 2006

Riding with boys

EMS is an interesting field because it has been all men for so long, they don't even bother to act like men instead of boys. In the last week I've had conversations about: the terrible blow jobs suffered by one man from his wife and his fond memories of his last great blow job; the relative hot-ness of various women wandering near; the tramp stamp tattoo and how it leads to the anal sex; and so on. I can't even remember them all, but most of them were inappropriate and if voiced within 2000 feet of a human resources person probably would've resulted in the immediate firing of everyone in the room.

I also spent 2 days this week riding with one of the biggest flirts in the company. When we go to the hospitals, he frequently disappears for 20 minutes or more and if you track him down, he's flirting with a nurse, an aide, admissions people, radiology techs, or pretty much any female under 40 and under 200 lbs. It doesn't bother me to ride with him as long as he doesn't make us late for calls, and even though I don't believe he was sincere, it was entertaining to be told you are pretty or beautiful 6-8 times in an 8 hour period. Yes, he's married. No, he doesn't do anything beyond batting some eyelashes and saying innocuous things. He's one of the people I was warned by some women about when I started at this company, but nobody has any suggestion of anything he's ever done to anyone. He's a Lt. at a fire department, so he's well aware of "the line".

It is interesting insight into the psyche of men though, and there is actually quite a diverse group at this company. Guys who are sports jocks to family men to crazy punk rockers covered in tattoos. The one thing they all agree on though, how much they like to talk about women and sex.

06 September 2006

It's official

Just returned from getting the official sign-off on my class. I am hereby qualified to pay $145 to take the national registry exam to become an EMT-Intermediate. When I pass that, I will be qualified to send additional funds to the state so I can be licensed to practice.

Now that class is officially done, I'm going to vent a little. This was BY FAR the single worst class I've ever had the misfortune to pay to take. The lead instructor didn't give a rat's ass about us personally or the class as a whole, including not bothering to show up for several nights of class where things promptly went wrong. The outside lecturers showed up and flipped through the power point slides produced by the book editors (and you can guess how great those were) with no apparent preparation or thought going into the lectures. There were inconsistencies between information given out by guest lecturers and answers on quizzes/exams because those instructors had no input into what we were tested over. Lab instructors were not even trained, had no idea how we were going to be tested, and couldn't run the stations the way the exams were offered. When we got to the hospital and ride-along time, all the feedback about our class was negative and reflected how unprepared we were to be treating real patients. Our instructor claimed we had a "poor attitude", but for most of us, that developed as we realized the impossibility of achieving any actual proficiency from this class.

Ugh. The only thing good I can say about it is at least my job is reimbursing the cost so I don't feel like I was personally screwed out of the $700. Now, onward to learning what I should've been able to do as an Intermediate in 1985 since that is the national test I have to take.

04 September 2006

Template changes

Don't be too surprised if the look changes every day or so until I settle on something new...feel free to give feed back on ones you like.