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.

1 comment:

Ellie said...

Ah, you hit on probably the one thing I don't miss about that job. I too have been trying not to freak out in public lately, haha.
Things are getting better, I think. Last time I said that, I wrecked my car. Ah, life.
Hope to hear from you soon!