Lots of news

Well, it’s been a busy few months.

School is helping to consume my life. I finished all my pre reqs for Paramedic school and was accepted into the newest class starting Jan 9 2009. I am trying to go on contract w/ my company to go to school so they will work with my schedule and help pay for it. Plus I’ll be getting a raise out of it, so I think that alone will help when I’m foreced to cut back on working quite so much. I’m really looking forward to school. First semester will be a blast, especially the 4 week internship w/ a 911 service. I don’t do enough of that working transport.

Speaking of 911, this is where it gets interesting. A few nights ago there was an MCI declared out in Torrance county, one of the other counties my company runs in (911 only, since it’s a rural county). A tour bus rolled onto it’s side. 50+ patients out there. We were dispatched out there to lend some more assistance. Since this is a very rural area, there are several vollie depts that responded out there, but some are only trained to an MFR level, and there were only two paramedics (1 was ours, plus we had an ILS truck out there), there were a total of 8 rigs on scene when we were dispatched out.

That led to the fun part. I stock my truck w/ extra supplies for the trucks on scene and we get a third person on my crew, basics all. Told by county dispatch that the roads were clear all the way to the exit off the interstate we were supposed to take. So we head out running code through the city, then slower code when we get to the mountains and Sedillo Hill.

Driving carefully and quite a bit slower than normal, we have clear but sandy roads. Once past the main problem of the canyon it straightens out so we speed up a little, still under the speedlimit. We have sanded roads until suddenly a semi in front of us starts to jack-knife. That scares the shit out of me, so I take my foot off the gas, not wanting to hit the brakes since we didn’t know where the ice started, and not doing much steering wheel inputs. Didn’t help. We start sliding on the ice and wind up rolling over into a ditch.

Lesson 1) Don’t trust county dispatch on conditions

Next thing I know I’m hanging from my seatbelt trying to check out my partner up front who is not concious at that point. I hear my partner who was strapped into the airway chair in the back able to get out and use her cell to call our dispatch and let them know what happened. I try our radio and can’t get any response. Figures, our antenna is probably dead meat in that crash.

The inside of the truck alone was trashed. Our center switch area was sitting on top of my partner and everything was moved. I couldn’t get to my cell or our handheld radios. It was a very scary thing. I couldn’t do anything for anyone, even myself, since if I was able to get out of my seat belt, I would have fallen onto my partner. That would have been a very bad thing.

I am able to get my partner in front talking to me and she says her hips are hurting like that are broken. Before I am able to get anything else from her, we see flashlights in our windshield. It was NM SP and NM DPS cars that stopped on scene. We have an EMT trained cop asking questions as they use ASPs to break out the windshield. I tried to grab something to cover my partner so glass shards wouldn’t go all over her. Stupid laminated glass, since my window punch wouldn’t do anything to it to help get us out. I am able to get some hard cover (the cushion from the airway chair actually) over her, even though I get a little cut up from the shards.

The cop gets in and puts himself under my after he checks over her. He lifts me a little so I can get my seatbelt off and then I’m pulled bodily from the wreck by about 6 or 7 people. My door was facing straight up. I get out and my hands feel completely numb, but I don’t feel anything, not even the little cuts and scrapes from the glass and grabbing for things. I talk to the medic in charge and ask to be able to stay until they get my partner out, but he wants me in a rescue to get checked out.

Lesson 2) Don’t argue with the I/C medic, or you will have police force you to go to a rescue unit

That was a short argument. And not a fun one. I get checked out in the rescue and sign a refusal, and then try to get out to see my partner in the back. I go to Medic 34 (SFCFD) and check on her, she is in pain but not letting the EMTs board and collar her. She won’t even listen to me on that. She’s a baby EMT (fresh out of school) so she knew better than anyone that collaring her was in her best interest. After seeing her be ok, I hop out and try to head over to our rig, which I can see for the first time, and it amazes me that any of us are alive. I’m intercepted by state police and escorted back to Medic 34. They don’t want me in the way.

In my mind I know that they are right, but it does nothing for my heart wanting to be with my partner, especially as she was technically off shift and volunteered for that run with us. I just wanted to try to take care of everyone as I felt responsible.

Me and back seat partner (BSP, my regular partner) are taken to one of the outlying ERs in ABQ so she can be treated. We were going to go to the trauma center, but they were only taking Trauma 1’s. BSP is still complaining of pain, radiating throughout her neck. I’m at least allowed to help the EMTs in the back. We get to KHP where I’ve got a message asking me to call dispatch. I do and talk to the owners son, the mgr on duty that night. He tells me that I’ll be picked up in 20 minutes to get back to base.

I make sure BSP is being taken care of, tell her I’ll keep her up to date with what’s happening and then head to the bay doors. One of the Techs and me talk for a bit and she gets me up to date on what is happening in town. The MCI put all the major hospitals (and ABQ does have plenty) on alert, and caused UNM to be on divert for all but the most major traumas. I guess the cops actually had to work and take the drunks in instead of just calling for EMS.

My front seat partner (FSP) is being taken to one of the downtown hospitals with ‘minor trauma w/ hip pain’ so that made me feel a bit better knowing where she was going

I get back to base when the snobby son comes back to get me. SS was being himself, but there was something else in his attitude. He was actually showing that he had a heart, and was worried about the crews instead of just the trucks. He fills me in with what will need to happen. I am to write an incident report while everything is still fresh in my mind, then help out in dispatch for the remainder of my shift.

I do those things after being greeted and checked over by our dispatcher, who felt horrible for what happened, since he felt that it was partially his fault. The MCI winds up taking almost all night with a patient even being flown out, despite nasty weather. I wonder how much we could have helped out there had we managed to get there.

I have my fiance drive me home, since she was coming in for a dispatch shift (where she works until cleared back to field duty because of an injury). I get to sleep for a couple hours before I am woken up by her coming through the door. My parents and brother are with her. Her supervisor found out what happened and then sent a replacement for her and told her she needed to be with me. She didn’t even ask she just left happily. I’ve got a new respect for her boss.

The owner of the company, turns out, is highly pissed at me, according to my fiance. I was kinda figuring he would be and ask her how much trouble I am in. She suprises me by saying none, and that the only reason he’s pissed at me is because I wasn’t seen in the hospital that night. He wants me to get checked out ASAP, and probably not a bad idea since by this point I have developed nausea, vomiting, and a killer headache.

After all the annoyance of the hospital it comes back that I had a minor concussion(!) and just
tons of bruising.

That brings us back to today. Where I can’t help but get it in my head that this is all my fault. I feel horrible about what happened and wonder how FSP and BSP cannot hate me. I figure they both do. I am hating that fact that they got hurt and I was able to walk away with minor injuries. Why was I special? Why didn’t I get hurt?

And I’m also mourning my truck. Does that sound wierd? I think so. I think I’m sad about it because it was the truck I’ve been in since being put in the field by myself after third-rides. I don’t know what to do about that one.

And now I’m off work pending CISD, a physical exam, drug test, and whatever else…. I just feel lost right now.

Interesting

Well, I wound up going to a funeral w/ my ex-finance (promised her I’d go before we split up) and got a very big shock when we got there…

The man who she has known since childhood, laying there in the coffin, was a man I have transported many many times over the last 6 mos going to and from cancer treatments. To say the least I was blown away. I didn’t think I’d ever go to a funeral for a routine transfer pt, especially one who two months ago, I was given report saying he was doing much better.

To think that a month ago (when I transported him last) we were talking and exchanging stories like we have been for months. Turns out he graduated exactly 70 years before I did, from the exact same high school. I got to hear very cool war stories from his experiences in WWII, got to talk to him about politics, about family, about every topic I could think of. In short he became a friendly face I would see.

All these thoughts just ran through my head at the funeral, and I couldn’t help but shed some tears. My ex thought I was crazy until I told her what was happening. Then she told me that she too had transported him, but thought that the night shifts would never have done that.

I had a chance to talk to the family, and low and behold, the daughter-in-law and son both recognized me on the spot. Might have helped that I was still in uniform from just having come off shift. They told me that he liked our times transporting him because someone finally treated him as more than just an anonymous face. Turns out that he would request my crew specifically. And he said that he was honored that no matter how busy we were, we were always polite and respectful when we showed up for him. And I set a record by transporting him on a day shift 6 times in one day, and each of those was a fun and interesting transport.

I saw him progress from a man that could walk and laugh deeply, to a fragile looking, older gentleman who needed help from the bed to my gurney. He still had that same sparkle in his eye no matter what was going on, and that was there until the very end when I transported him for the last time. I don’t think I will ever forget that face or those eyes. They always seemed to bore into me no matter the topic of discussion.

I knew I would watch people slowly fade away, but for some reason I never thought it would be him. My brother asked me once if I would ever get a normal job (heh!) and I think I know now the reason. If I didn’t work this job, I wouldn’t be feeling this hurt over the situation, but at the same time I never would have been able to comfort and talk to this man in all the time I spent with him in the back of my rig. I never would have learned how he felt when his son married, or when he help his first grand child.

So, no matter what, this kind of reinforces why I love my job so much, no matter how trying it might be.

Yes, I know I rambled, but it’s my blog, so I’m allowed.

Funny thinking in class

Just got back to my apt after my A&P class, which comes after a rather hectic 12.75 hour shift on an ALS truck.

Well, my A&P prof decided to rant on about how EMS systems here in ABQ are a wasteful setup and need to be changed. And this is on the first day, mind you. I’m not sure what prompted the discussion at this point, but I might remember later.

First some background on the EMS system here in ABQ NM:
We run a two tiered 911 system. First tier is the Fire Dept, either ABQ Fire, Bernallilo County Fire, Rio Rancho Fire, or one or two others. They usually are first on scene and handle extrication and primary intervention and assessments. Y0u usually get an ALS Engine (3 BLS or ILS providers and a medic, the Engine carries a monitor and jump bags with supplies and some have Narcs and drugs) and a Rescue. For MVCs sometimes you get a heavy extrication truck and a ladder truck too.
2nd tier is ABQ Ambulance Service. They basically just transport from the scene to the appropriate hospital. Sometimes with a fire medic riding along. They run all ALS trucks for 911 with an occasional ILS truck for inter-facility runs. They are single medic with a BLS or ILS provider doing the driving.
And then in ABQ area you have some other EMS services. You have my company, which does mainly interfacility in the ABQ area and 911 in 3 other counties in the state. And also is Dying Cross, which does 911 down 1 county but everything is brought up to ABQ becauae there are no hospitals really down there.
And add in the rotor wing flight service, you’ve got a pretty hefty package up here.

This A&P class has several working EMTs and FFs in it, along with some brand new baby basics fresh out of B-classes and trying to get into and pass medic with no field experience. So its not a class that has no EMS knowledge.

I’ve done some thinking about the way that it works up here and in some ways I think that she might have had a point. Almost every LOLFDGB that calls gets a three ring circus showing up at her door. Not to mention if she needs to be transported from one facility to another, there usually is yet another company (mine) that does that work. And that doesn’t include what happens if we witness or are first to come across an accident on the roads.

It’s gotten to the point that some nursing homes will call us (!) instead of 911 when something goes wrong just so they only have one unit showing up and don’t “Cause a fuss” when they forgot that a pt died two days ago and are just now doing rounds again.

But what needs to be done is what I don’t know. We’ve been talking about it for months at my current service, but as we are a for-profit service and they are non-profit run by a hospital system, we don’t really know what all needs to be done.

Well, that’s my little rant for today. I’m sitting here in the first 4 hours of my 12 looking into a 911 vollie fire service to volunteer with, even though I’m not a big fan of volunteer services

Hmmm

Who says that just because I run interfacility trucks that I can’t have calls the really only need a taxi? I just finished a hell of a 4 call run and finally have some time for homework. Only one of these pts needed an ambulance really. Especially since I have a paramedic in the back for 2 of the 4 calls…
Oh well, he got to play with fent.

Time to go reading PHTLS

Hiya

Tonight is the start of my work week. 3 or 4 12 hour shifts from 8pm to 8am. Sunday night is my pickup night if the medic on the 7pm truck winds up going to one of my companies 911 services.

You see, I’m an EMT-B that runs a BLS interfacility transfer ambulance. We take patients to and from nursing homes, ERs hospital floors, and residences. I also run emergency calls from nursing homes that are too stupid to call 911.

And on Saturday morning at 0830 right after work, and then on monday at 0800, I start my second life. I’m a full time college student at the local community college. I’m taking A&P, EMS Pharm, EMS Drug Cal, and Advanced Trauma. If you couldn’t tell I’m doing my pre reqs for my NREMT-P, or medic. 12 credit hours this semester, then starting the hell that is P-school next semester hopefully. If I don’t get into the medic cohort first time around, I’ll be doing some pre nursing classes and my EMT-I.

And somewhere in all this is my fiance. She is taking the same courses as I am, just different days. And she works during the day on nights that I work, with the same company. We plan to go on to medic together and then get married Sept 12th of 2009, about 1 month after we finish our paramedic school. Or sooner or later depending on how everything works out.

And maybe as an addition I’m going to try talking with my bosses to pull some 911 shifts out in Torrance county or San Miguel Counties, in New Mexico.

Well, I plan to use htis blog to just post thoughts on calls and school an anything else that comes to mind. It’s good to finally start this, I’ve been debating it since I started reading ADs blog a while back.