23 July 2007

A small fit

Okay, I admit it, every now and then I just get tired of being insulted, taken for granted, and generally treated as though I contribute little to the given situation. And then, I tend to create a scene. It used to be worse, the scenes were bigger and the injustices smaller - I've mellowed a bit with age. But there are still times when I have had enough.

My new shift started this week and hallelujah is it nice to only have one transfer shift because that is where I really tend to get cranky with the ambulance co policies, dispatchers, nurses, people in other vehicles, etc. This particular shift had been horribly slow and boring. 1600 rolls around and we're only an hour away from that delightful time known as shift change. Naturally, this is frequently the time of day when the 911 trucks get very busy. All four are out on calls, one of the other transfer trucks gets sent on a 911 call, and we get hit up for taking the next 911 call. One of the 911 trucks manages to get turned over and in service at the hospital before we get called out, so all looks good for a 1700 departure barring some sort of emergency transfer.

Then dispatch comes over the radio looking for the night crew on our truck to sign on because they have a call pending. The night paramedic is on one of the 911 trucks that is mid-call and the night intermediate is nowhere to be found at 1700. Another paramedic steps up and offers to take the call so my partner can leave, and we're digging through the schedule trying to find out what is going on when the night supervisor wanders through at 1705 and casually mentions that my relief is going to be at least 20 minutes late and continues past without offering any solutions. When asked to take a late call on a transfer truck, by dispatch, by a supervisor, by another employee with a schedule conflict, I have ALWAYS done it without complaint. Because I'm just that kind of person. I would want people to help me if I was in a bind, so I do what I can to help others.

Unwritten company policy is that if you're on a truck which runs 24 hours a day you can NOT, under any circumstances, leave before you're relieved by someone. Which means I'm now on the hook for this transfer. A BLS transfer taking someone from the hospital back to their home. There are two BLS trucks which are on shift until 1800, another ALS truck on shift until 2200, and the nagging question of what difference could it possibly make to this patient to wait an additional 15-20 minutes before being discharged from the hospital. But I'm not allowed to ask any of those questions under threat of disciplinary action, including termination. Set on a slow boil, I leave to do the call.

Now, just to clarify, I'm not especially mad at the person who is going to be late, she doesn't make a habit of it so there probably was some real situation going on for her. I'm not mad about how late I'm going to get out, it is an in-town transfer which will likely get me out of the station by 1800 or maybe 1830. What I am raging over is the assumption that it is MY problem that the incoming staff is late. That it is MY problem that the supervisors who knew she was going to be late did NOTHING to cover the truck, instead just leaving me on the hook. That my time has no value except when I'm bringing in money for this company.

The late staff took another vehicle over to meet us at the patient's residence so that when we completed the call, she could be officially staffing the truck so I could leave before anything else got assigned to that truck. This is toeing the line of policy that you never do a staff change during a call. But the call was my tech, so I'm not leaving until we're all the way done, so at least we're toeing the right side of the line. It turned out to be very helpful to have the extra set of hands because getting in to the residence was no easy task with the stretcher, the patient refused the stair chair, and it is flat out pouring buckets of rain. The late staff personally apologizes to me and thanks me for taking the call, and as far as I'm concerned she and I are square.

I head back to the station, to the supervisor who decided not to resolve this issue, and I'm none interested in concealing my opinions. So, I made a scene. In front of pretty much everyone who was on duty that night. Of course it didn't get me anywhere because the supervisor comments that his personal opinion is in agreement with me, but company policy is as described above. Now, I did alright at not saying anything that was explicitly going to get me fired. I managed not to dissolve into cursing and tried to maintain a reasonable argument that since I have no power to fire, discipline or otherwise control the on-coming employees, it should not be my responsibility to cover the truck.

16 July 2007

Last words

Your Famous Last Words Will Be:

"So, you're a cannibal."

Okay, this little widget cracked me up to no end, thanks to MonkeyGirl. Three simple questions and I'm fairly sure they got it right. I was thinking about last words because K has had 2 deaths in his last 2 shifts at the FD. If there's any joke to be made about situations like this, you can guarantee they will be made at some point by somebody.

The first death actually seemed to have affected K in a way I haven't seen before. The fact that he's still talking about it kinda clues me in. The second one today was entirely different, but seemed to disturb him on a different level. I'm not sure how far to push him with this beyond just letting him talk about it when he needs to, but honestly I'm still annoyed with his complete lack of response to the last call that stuck with me (post still in progress on that one). He has a completely different reaction to these calls than I would, so I don't know what he needs and he sure isn't going to tell me. But I'm still working at it.

13 July 2007


I feel like I should always be apologizing for the lack of posting, but I don't think it really helps when I feel guilty about not writing. So just know that I've been hoping people read but I'm not willing to stress over something that mostly functions as an outlet for me.

Weather here has been AWFUL - hot, sticky, nasty. I moved away from VA to get out of exactly this type of weather in the summer but apparently not so much. Although watching the weather channel suggests that it doesn't matter much lately, as it is hot and nasty everywhere. Monday was a large thunderstorm (just in time to cancel softball, grrr) and the lightning hit very near our house, possibly on our property. Close enough anyway to fry the dog's invisible fence and the DSL modem. Many hours of phone calls later brings a new modem which works with my laptop and not the desktop yet. Naturally the provider's answer was to update the desktop - with files from the internet. Foreign accent man on the phone failed to see the irony in that. Tomorrow will probably yield more hours on the phone just to have them tell me that it is something wrong on my end and not their problem, they already transferred me to the computer manufacturer once.

I've been struggling to answer essay questions for medical school applications, hoping to get everything submitted this month. Trying to sound coherent or maybe even intelligent in between 250 and 1500 words about things as varied as "your motivation for becoming a physician", "biggest issue for medicine in the next 40 years", and "how you contribute to the diversity of our student body" is taxing my creative writing abilities. K keeps reminding me that writing nothing is worse than getting something together and sending the damn things in. Some of the questions have so many things I could say and just ramble on endlessly, others I just have no interest in - I don't want to have dinner with someone who made a major contribution to health or the human condition. I hate it when people talk on and on while I'm trying to eat, or spit food while talking, but somehow I doubt that this would be an interesting answer for the admissions committee.

There have also been some family issues going on that I'm not going to address right now, but it has been stressful and I'm not convinced my sister is actually on speaking terms with me right now. Little Z sounded like he had a good birthday, I wish I could've been there.

Oh, just in case you're wondering - the Transformers movie ROCKED!! I was a fan of the toys and cartoon as a kid, but not an obsessive one, and I was mostly looking for the movie to be a good summer movie and it was. There was enough story line to keep it moving. The only thing that would've helped is if we'd been able to sit a little further back in the theater, but that's what we get for deciding fairly last minute to see the sneak preview the day before the official release.

Today's my last 911 shift with MC and so far it's been entertaining. Abdominal pain, help PD pick up hypodermic needles out of the street, alcohol intoxication, and an overdose of unknown medication. The alcohol intoxication was a call from the PD for a woman they found peeing on the sidewalk who then passed out. One of the docs at the hospital had the quote of the night: "If you drop your drawers and pee on the sidewalk, that is a legal issue and you don't need a hospital. If you have uncontrolled urination while walking down the street, that is a medical problem and you should come to the hospital." Words to live by.