29 October 2006

Dreary weekend

Why do people only want to do social things with me on the weekends I'm on call?!? I only volunteer one weekend out of every five, and yet nearly every time there is something going on it is a weekend when I can't leave town. And this has been a pathetic weekend to hang around. Nasty weather, low call volume, and K is on shift today, so I don't even have anyone to talk to while I'm sitting around all day.

Enough whining. Tomorrow is our 7th wedding anniversary. I can't really believe it has been 7 years, but I can't even believe I've been out of college for almost 10 either. For the first time in those years, we don't really have anything specific planned. The last two years, we've tripped to Montreal and just enjoyed being out of town and watching a little of Canada's national sport. This year, it's a Monday and there is NOTHING going on. No hockey, no football, no basketball, no performances of any type, so we've been at a loss for what to do. K is checking out places to go eat, maybe a day trip or something.

I've already given him his present - a new wedding ring to replace the one he lost in the snow in January. The new one isn't identical to the old one since the price of gold has changed dramatically, $1200+ to replace it. So we went with a titanium and gold one instead of white and yellow gold. The titanium is supposed to hold up better to wear and tear too, but we'll see. No, I don't know what he's up to for me, although I had to laugh at the jeweler we had sizing his ring trying very hard to sell him on something for me. They also resized my grandmother's ring for me so I can wear it on the ring finger of my right hand and get a little more use out of it. It was something I'd been meaning to do for quite a while now, but her passing this year brought it to the front of the list.

I'm going to try NaBloPoMo in November to try and make me think more about writing every day. I'm thankful they picked November because some of the changes in my life might actually give me something to write about next month. Of course, I haven't seen the ambulance schedule yet, so I may have to learn to blog in succinct sentences rather than blathering on, but we'll see.

27 October 2006


Well, despite the annoyance of the man in charge of paperwork - who described me as "on his back" to a state official - my EMT-I license from the state is all taken care of. I almost took offense to the implication that I was unfairly riding him, but I can be quite a pest when I'm not getting what I want and your job consists of only doing what I am asking for.

The company submitted my reimbursement request to accounting today so I should be getting my money for the class soon. And I found out what I'm getting for a raise... $2.04/hr! Sadly enough that is about 15% and enough to make a difference in what I take home.

I'm toying with the idea of quitting the office job entirely and just picking up as many part-time hours as possible because if I can get together about 52 hours a week I can make the same amount as I usually do now. It is more plausible as an EMT-I because night shifts are 14 hours each, but I'm not sure whether to torment myself. Seems like six of one and half-dozen of the other whether I stay or go.

25 October 2006

Workin' on the chain ga-a-ang

I've now worked five days in a row for the ambulance - pretty good for a part-timer, but it doesn't leave a lot of time for writing.

Saturday, I worked a shift for a guy who asked me three weeks ago to cover because he had other plans. I agreed to be helpful, but it turned out that Saturday was the officer's funeral, and I really wished I wasn't working so I could've stayed home and been upset there instead. Since I was on a regular transfer shift, I missed the whole thing but I can tell you it was extremely eerie to see so many police in one place. I didn't expect folks from MA to come up, but there were busloads from Boston and towns along the way, a motorcycle unit from Cambridge, and I think even some state troopers from MA, in addition to just about every off-duty police or trooper from NH. Every hospital we picked up or dropped off at had the TVs tuned to the funeral and it was a very somber day.

After shift, I headed to the southern station and worked a kids' football detail in the freezing cold. I have to say that after watching these slightly older kids, I have more respect for the coaches of the younger kids because they were actually much better behaved than these kids.

Sunday, I worked the circus detail, so I watched the first show for free and hung out in first aid for the second show. Apparently, I talked with one of the stars of the show in the parking lot, but I didn't know it at the time so I didn't know I should be awed or anything. I have to say that I didn't attend a lot of circuses as a kid, but I do believe that things have changed. When the tigers came out, the ring was completely enclosed in some sort of metal safety netting so that nobody in the audience got mauled. The trapeeze had a giant net under it and they only performed about 4 tricks. The high wire had big crash pads under it and some very silly looking boys with parasols on it. There were hardly any midgets and they didn't even have the midgets and the elephants out at the same time, so we didn't get to work any elephant tramplings. Overall, we barely did anything - one bandaid, some earplugs, and some aspirin was it.

Monday, Tuesday and today are back to working on the transfer truck. Supposedly my EMT-I paperwork was hand-delivered to the state office yesterday, so we'll see whether I actually get licensed any time soon.

20 October 2006

Murphy's law

**I had this one almost ready on Friday and got distracted by other things...

Had an FD call this morning that left me chuckling - only because I wasn't in charge of anything other than driving. 84 yo man, difficulty breathing. When I arrive on scene, the FD has him pretty much loaded onto the stretcher and they're headed for the ambulance. I help get the stretcher outside and hop in. One of the FFs has already started getting the IV ready, the medic listens to lung sounds, the line is started with a large puddle of blood and it appears we're about ready to go. The medic gives the gentleman a nebulizer treatment of albuterol and turns around to get the solumedrol ready when he notices that there's something not quite right with the IV.

The FF who started it comes back over and they agree that they don't think it is blown, just leaking from the connection of catheter to administration set. So they un-tape everything (including the tegaderm, which the old guy whines about) but it turns out the connections are okay. The FF messes with the positioning a little and thinks he finds a good spot, but as soon as he turns around, the guy's bleeding again. I'm trying not to start giggling because this would suck if I was in charge of the line and the two of them are looking so serious about the whole thing. They decide that maybe it's the admin set leaking. Medic looks up and tells myself and FF #2 that he wants to spike a new bag and change out the tubing. FF #2 opens a new bag of saline, and looks up to see the me handing the old bag to the medic who is just re-spiking with a new admin set. Since I wasn't digging around in the cabinet, I heard the medic change his mind, FF #2 looks confused until I explain the change in plan.

New admin set does not fix the problem. Medic decides to have the FF hold the line until he can administer the solumedrol and then give up on it so we can get moving. He breaks out the drug box and grabs a needle and syringe. The first needle is too tiny and just about snaps in half when he tries to push it into the vial. Again, I'm holding back on laughing as he looks up at me and rolls his eyes. When he gets a needle that works, he somehow does not have a full dose in the syringe, so out comes vial #2 which provides the rest of the dose. The medic turns around and grabs the port on the admin set, screws the syringe on, and out goes the dose. Right onto the hand of FF #1 holding the IV because the medic injected it into the disconnected admin set which was still taped to the guy's upper arm. Here, I can't contain it and I laugh quietly - thankfully only heard by FF #2 who joins me. Patient's son now opens the back door of the ambulance and looks panicked, "Is my dad okay? Why aren't you going?" Medic manages calm reassurance that we were just finishing up and about to leave. Door shuts. Since there isn't any more solumedrol, the line is discontinued and patched up, and after a little haggling over who is going, riding, and staying, I drive us to the hospital.

After we drop off the patient, the medic finally lets out a little of the frustration about everything going wrong and has me laughing. We head to the pharmacy to replace the 2 solumedrol that we don't want billed to the patient and the medic has a brain fart where he can't remember what drug he wants and I bail him out. Heading downstairs, he tells me thanks because it would've taken him at least 5 minutes to remember the name of the drug he wanted. We had a nice ride back to town, still laughing over everything going wrong.

18 October 2006


I've never before worked a job with a badge, so I've never been asked to wear a black mourning band around my badge and felt the heavy weight of rememberance that brings to ordinary activity. I look around the station and all I see are the black bands. I don't normally even notice the badges anymore, unless somebody is missing one. I was at the station at 1700 shift change and watched everyone adorn their badges for the next shift.

Everyone was quiet and subdued around the station, with the exception of cranking up the TV every time another news report came on. I know all the public details about the death, the deceased and the killer because I've seen every report repeated every 10-15 minutes. I also know some of the private details from the folks who worked the scene. I indirectly know someone who worked on the trauma team at the hospital. I know that the patient was fairly deceased long before they pronounced him dead, or they would've sent for the helicopter to Boston.

I don't know how to deal with the situation. I did not know the deceased personally, hadn't worked with him like some other folks. I can't imagine the awful pain of the wife and children left behind. I'm glad the killer had been caught and will be subject to the death penalty. I don't know how to convince myself that K is safe at scenes. First, one medic I know was threatened, by a patient he transported, with a knife in the emergency department, now an officer shot.

It is hard because I know a lot of good people in EMS and the fire service, and I know that while the maxim is always personal safety, crew safety, and then everyone else, these people can and will put themselves into less safe situations with the intent to help. I know I can't adequately assess a scene to determine safety for presence of weapons/intent to harm. I'm supposed to rely on the police for that, but (with absolutely no disrespect) obviously that doesn't always work either. I need some time to process and understand, but everything else continues moving at the same pace.

13 October 2006

Official results

I passed! I'm now officially an EMT-I and I can do fun stuff like stick you with needles. Any of you who have met Watson can now imagine the happy dance, involving jumps, twirls and generalized excitement!!!

Sent to scoring

Just saw my official status for EMT-I test: "Sent to scoring". Results will be posted in the next 72 hours according to the website. Fingers crossed!

Rough day

Chronologically, bullet-style:
  • Drive to work. Notice large trailers implying a concert at local arena. Consider whether to try and squeeze car in alley or park (and not pay) at metered spot. Realize it is volunteer night and don't want to move 3 other employee cars when leaving, park at meter.
  • Clocked in, did truck check, immediately paged for a transfer across town.
  • Left receiving hospital to return to station. Upon return, sit down, read 2 pages of new novel, called on radio to "stay on post" at receiving hospital. Drive back to receiving hospital to post.
  • Post for 3 hours doing nothing. Two other crews posted with us. Tell Ellie I've read her blog and link to it. Try and decide whether the look of panic on her face is because I know or who I might tell. Decide it doesn't matter.
  • Paged out for another call. Drop off patient, return to station. Notice *$%!@#! parking ticket on car. Remember trailers of concert crap and golden rule of meter parking - never when there is something at the arena. Watch the insanity of shift change. Called on radio to next call - 20 miles away down a busy 1-lane each way highway at the height of "rush hour" in NH. Not happy about getting out late. Patient turns out to be very nice and talkative and improves my mood immensely.
  • Return to station 1:15 after shift end. Find back garage full of trucks parked so our truck won't fit. Find alley full of cars for people working concert. Ask supervisor if we can leave truck in the alley.
  • Sup blows a head gasket about parking situation both inside and out. Truck of worst offenders is photographed, documented and sup leaves mumbling about heads rolling. Realize one of the people on that truck is still on probation and I probably just got her fired.
  • Spend 20 minutes rearranging vehicles until our truck fits with nearly everyone on shift helping tell me how to drive and/or watching.
  • Get in car to drive home for volunteer shift. Find ANOTHER @*&%#!$ parking ticket on car, given at 1830! Spend drive home trying not to speed or do anything erratic because apparently my car is police-attractive today.
  • Call ex-partner and make sure other worker on offending truck is off probation - she is.
  • Slump on couch and try to get blood sugar and caffeine levels back within normal limits while not grousing at K about my day.
  • Sleep fitfully all night because there aren't any calls with the FD but I'm always listening for something to come up.
  • Awaken to a beautiful sunshine-filled Friday the 13th. Hope today is better.

11 October 2006

Plunking along

No exciting news lately and nothing inspiring me to write.

Last two shifts on the vanbulance have been uneventful, although we did transport two hospice patients in one day and mine was by far the closest patient to dying I've ever had. He was the brightest yellow color I've ever seen on a living person and he would suddenly stop breathing for 15-20 seconds at a time as we drove 25 minutes to the hospice providers. The worst part was that he was coming from a family member's house and had a DNR, which the family did not have a copy of. So if he died in the ambulance on the way to hospice, I would've had to try and defibrillate him, do CPR, the works, until we got to the hospital - and we were transporting a family member with us who would've had to watch the whole deal. Thankfully for me, he made it all the way there without any extraordinary measures.

Clothing items from the yearly purchase for the FD are starting to come in, so I'm almost looking like everyone else now.

I applied for an open full-time slot as an intermediate at the ambulance co (even though I'm not official yet), and the boss responded to let him know when I pass. Not exactly an excited response, but not a "get bent" kind of deal either. I'm not entirely sure why I'm so insane as to think I could go full time again, but the schedule seemed amenable - Sunday night, Monday night, Thursday day and Friday day. Which would leave me Tuesday and Wednesday for the work-from-home stuff and Saturday completely off! Sad when working 6 days a week seems like a good deal. But if you'll check back a couple of posts, you'll see I'm coming to grips with the fact that I'm completely insane...which, come to think of it, probably explains the whole medical school deal too.

10 October 2006


Unofficially, I passed the practical exam for my test. Woohoo!

08 October 2006

Testing, testing

I finished the EMT-Intermediate test today. I left feeling pretty good about all the practicals and the written test, so hopefully that means I passed. Official line is 2-3 weeks for on-line test results and 3-4 for paperwork, but the last group in August got results back in 4 days.

06 October 2006


I had to admit it this week. I might just be insane. An ambulance supervisor called Monday and after a confusing few minutes trying to get us both talking about the same thing, he asked whether I would work the wheelchair shift I was scheduled for on Tuesday and then drive down to the southern station and work a transfer vanbulance shift. All together, working 8a-midnight. And yes, I did it. Partly because the guy who called is the scheduling supervisor and I'm still trying to be as accomodating as possible so I get some decent shifts after I get my next level of certification.

I'm also insane because I've picked up a large number of detail shifts this month working at things like hockey games and children's football games. The first hockey game last week was good because it was at a local ice rink instead of the big arena, so I got to sit right next to the glass and feel almost part of the action. This weekend is the season-opener, so I'll get to learn what it is like to work at the big arena too. I wish I could say that the money was good, but it isn't really, which is why I didn't do a lot of these things when I was working full-time.

Last night was my FD night and I was actually in town at the early call (I almost always miss 1 a week that happen before I get home from work). There was only 1 later call, and that was a no-transport, so the low-call trend continues. Today is also open house at the FD, so I may head over there this evening and see if they need any help. Again, insane - volunteering for things I've not been asked to do.

Forgive me if posting is slow as I work my way through all the hours I have piled up waiting for me. I'll try and update after the EMT-I exam on Sunday as I should have the results for the practical portion at least.