Yay… new year… new challenges

Well, another year is over. I’ve noticed a lot of bloggers looking back on the last year, and figured I might join in. But, take note, that I hated 2010 for hte most part, so there will be very few good things I can say about it.

Last year:

My ex-fiance got married to my ex-partner,

I quit my job and moved to CO on the promise of a job (which never materialized),

found a job at a private IFT ambulance, then promptly got fired for doing something stupid.

Fell BACK in love with a girl who had been out of my life for years, had my heart stomped on in front of me, set on fire, and then the ashes scattered by said girl.

Moved back in with my parents,

Spent a lot of the rest of my money that I had saved applying for state certs in bordering states and going to places for interviews.

Got a job in BFE TX on a 911 truck (probably the highlight of my year)

Applied for, and get accepted to, paramedic school in the City.

Strengthened a lot of ties with #CoEMS friends and other great friends I’ve made on Twitter. I’ve found out who really will be around when I need a friendly avatar to talk to.

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Yea, that’s my list of 2010. This next year will hopefully be easier to make better. I’ll have new challenges. Like working FT, PRN, and being a full-time paramedic student. But I know I can make it through everything that gets thrown at me. I’m used to being on my own, and I’ll prove that I can make it all on my own.

Although the year is off to a rough start with us here in BFE. I pulled what was supposed to be a 36 hour shift over NYE and NYD. It wound up being a 24 since we had a busy day and 1 really bad call. We worked 3 major MVCs and one of those turned into a trauma arrest while we were transporting to the airport to meet a fixed wing to get him to a Lvl1 Trauma in Big City 250 miles up the road.

Curiously I didn’t really feel anything with any of those patients. Sure it was sad they got into accidents over a holiday weekend, but I just did my job and walked away with no questions in my mind or doubts about why stuff like that happened.

For the most part, calls that day had been routine calls. Headache, dizziness, drunk, the usual for a holiday weekend. No suicide attempts or people doing grossly stupid things… Until we got the call that got me sent home early.

We got dispatched out secondary to PD for a 911 hangup call. They got on scene and sounded pretty damned flustered when they were calling us, so we got there relatively quickly.

Now, keep in mind, I hate kids. With one very large exception I don’t want them. And the person that I would have helped them raise their daughter… well, long story. Longer than I wanna go into. That and kids on calls scare me, since I don’t deal with them well.

Anyways, we get on scene and find a kiddo that has been beat to within an inch of her life. Why? Because her low life dad was a fuckign drunk and apparently she had dropped something that broke. His solution? To wail on the kid until she was quiet. The mom called, then apparently ‘thought better’ about it and hung up.

I don’t wanna talk too much abotu that call, since I know it’s already going to give me nightmares. But yea, this year is not off to a good start.

So anyways… new year, new challenges. Let’s hope things go well. School, work, work, school. That will be my life this next year, and I can’t say I mind. Keeping busy is good. Keeps me from thinking too much. As I’ve found out this past year, thinking hurts in more ways than one.

Oh and I decided to not give up caffeine like I was planning this year. That would be suicidal I think. So I decided to just give up carbonated beverages (like my Monster  O_O), with maybe the exception of a beer a week if I ever am off duty long enough to have one. So, the drinks and losing weight are my only new years resolutions other than rocking the paramedic course and earning my disco patch by the end of the year.

Burnout

A lot of us in this field have dealt with the issue of burnout. For a stressful job it’s pretty common to deal with. I’ve gone through it once, even though I’ve not been in this field too long yet. When I was dealing with it I was actually even newer. It was in my first year as an EMT.

I was working for an IFT company, had just gotten engaged, and going to school full time to get my pre-reqs out of the way for Paramedic school. I thought I was superman and I could handle everything that got thrown at me, but I was very wrong.

I was working all the shifts I could get on, sometimes working 16 hours or more at a stretch, 6 days a week plus going to class when I wasn’t working. I also had to try to make time to see my fiance, who worked for the same company and my normal schedule was actually opposite her schedule, which made it even harder to see her. I was working all those hours since I had a wedding to help pay for plus school to pay for.

It all came to a head one day when  I woke up and really just didn’t care about anything. I was more cynical than I ever had been (which is actually saying something), I was tired and irritable all the time, and I seemed to be not doing as well at work or in classes as I knew I could.

My head instructor actually called me into his office and sat me down. We must have talked for hours, and he told me that I needed to find something to do that wasn’t EMS related at all so I could help keep my sanity (or, as he put it, what little sanity someone who wanted to be a paramedic had to begin with). He told me he had been in a similar boat when he was going for his degree and he wouldn’t even see home for days at a time.

It made me think about things. I had gone from one extreme to the other. When I was at my first college as an engineering major, I did nothing but mess around and have fun. It hurt my GPA, but I was happy. Now I was in a field that I loved, but I hated my job and life and wasn’t happy. I thought about all the things I’ve put on hold since I started work and school. I didn’t offroad, or shoot, or take photos, or play paintball. I was lucky if I played a video game once a month or so.

It made me realize that I needed some balance in my life if I wanted to make it in this field. No matter how much you enjoy doing this work, if you don’t have some kind of a stress relief you aren’t going to make it. Since then I’ve made sure I take time to do something that is not related to EMS at all. I’ll go flying down a dirt road in my old truck (which reminds me I need to get another one and get rid of my little car), spend the day out in the wilderness just wandering around and taking photos, or going out with some friends and firing off a few hundred rounds of ammo.

So to any new providers out there, take the advice of people who’ve been in your shoes before and make sure you don’t focus so heavily on one thing that you start hating the thing that you loved. Remember why you got into EMS in the first place, not the drunks or the system abusers, but actually helping people. Take time for yourself too.

In my example, the burn out led to horrible relations with my fiance, which led us to break up a while later, a delay on my entry into medic school due to bad grades, and just general pissing off of the people I was around day in and day out. Don’t follow my mistakes :)

Rural EMS can really suck sometimes

“Dispatch will be changing frequency to dispatch ambulance.”

As I hear those words I grab my boots and quickly slip into them and start running, carefully, down the stairs. I know from experience, quite painfully actually, that if I don’t pay attention while going down these stairs, I’ll wind up head first heading towards the floor. I quickly grab my steth and hat off the table where they lay after we got back from our last call.

“EMS, EMS, Ambulance requested in tiny south-county town. Called in as a difficulty breathing. Deputy is responding to scene,” The radio on my belt squawks. I stop and think about where exactly they’re sending us. I can’t recall that little town being on any of our response maps.

“EMS to PD Dispatch, copy call, clear page,” I say into my radio as I pull it from my belt. I head into the bay and hop into our rig. The senior medic I’m riding with is right behind me. We start the rig up and he flips the lights and siren on as well pull out of the parking bay.

“Hey, OldMan, where the hell are they sending us?” I yell over at my partner, while flipping through the map book trying to see where we’re headed to.

“It’s just north of SmallerTown. Usually their vollies will cover that area, guess they can’t raise anyone again, so we’re covering the county,” He tells me as he scans the road ahead and to his left as we blow through town. He gets on the radio to ask dispatch if the volunteers are responding at all.

“Negative on that, EMS. Volunteers are out of service today due to insufficient crew available. SO is sending a deputy out to assess the scene for you. He should be there in ten minutes.”

“Copy that. We have an ETA of 45 minutes to the scene,” my partner tells them, shaking his head in frustration.

The South Town Volunteers might only be BLS capable, but they could still make a difference in this call if it’s anywhere near serious. But since they are unstaffed, a common occurrence lately from what I’ve been told, the patient has to wait for our EMS service to show up. Since we are a paid department, and the only other EMS agency in the county, we are always staffed. Luckily.

We hit the highway once we’re out of town and OldMan gets on the gas for all he’s worth, trying to get there in time. It’s a long trip there, even running flat out with lights and sirens. Luckily it’s pretty much all flat and straight till we get into Tiny South-County Town.

“Dispatch to EMS, SO reports that the patient is not breathing and has no pulse. He is starting CPR.”

“Shit!” My partner curses in the radio’s general direction before picking up the mic. “Copy that dispatch, get EMS2 rolling once they get into station.”

“EMS2 to EMS1, copy direct,” The voice of the OldMans son comes back, since he is the on call lead today. “We’re rolling now.”

Thirty minutes still till we get to scene. No telling of how long the patient has been down. This could wind up not being fun at all. I just hang on and watch the terrain fly by to either side of us, keeping alert for cross streets so I can tell my partner if something looks like it’s gonna come out in front of us. I know what to do if we have to work a code, so I try to relax and just be ready.

As we pull up on scene I notice it’s a single family dwelling, with a slew of vehicles parked in front of it. This gives me a little hope that maybe we got called the minute something started to go wrong. There’s also a deputies truck parked in the driveway with it’s lights still twirling. I quickly glove up and grab the first-in bag from the side compartment behind me. I see my partner grab the cot first thing.

“There’s that working a moving code mentality again.” I think to myself.

We rush inside the residence and take a look. The deputy is in the middle of the floor of the living room with an AED attached to the victim, while performing CPR. I see a face mask there too, so it looks like he’s been doing everything right. Judging his compressions I see that they are good, solid, and deep. Perfect.

The OldMan has him stop and he does his quick assessment. By the way the body moves when we roll it, this person has been down a hell of a lot longer than 45 minutes. As we look at their back we notice lividity present as well. We both look at each other and shake our heads. As he talks to the family to get the story, he motions me to talk to the deputy to get his viewpoint since he got there.

The family is of course not happy with us when we do not continue CPR. They are mad at everyone, especially us, for how long it took their call to go through. It sounds like they tried calling the Small Town Volunteers station to try and get response from them for about a half hour before calling 911. They told the dispatcher that she wasn’t breathing. So why did we get paged out for difficulty breathing? Ya’ll know dispatchers as well as I do. Guess.

Apparently the family thought that calling the vollie station was just as good as calling 911. And they couldn’t figure how the station could be unstaffed in the middle of a weekday. They apparently weren’t happy finding out that the vollies have real jobs and don’t have the staff to maintain a crew 24/7. They were blaming us for taking so long to get there from town, even though it’s impossible to get there faster than we did.

The deputy said he got there and started CPR as soon as he checked for a pulse and got none. He never thought to look for rigor or lividity, but then again that’s not his job. I get some more information from the deputy for our report and watch as he goes to call the JP and make arrangements.

I meet up with my partner again after I finish loading the cot into our rig and put the bag back in the side compartment. As he sees I’m done putting things away he asks, “Still so happy to work in a system like this?”

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This is the first time working here in Rural Town, TX that I wanted to pull my hair out. I wonder if this will be the call that gets the county and my town to decide that our service needs to spread to cover the entire county and needs a station down south in Small Town. In a situation like this it might have made all the difference.

Quick update

Just wanted to let people know I’m still around and looking for jobs. Put out tons of applications, in places from Denver, to Durango, to Baton Rouge, to Tulsa, to Albuquerque. And everywhere in between. Applying for ER tech, ICU tech, Tele tech, EMT, EMT-I, among others. I even applied in my home town where my parents live to work in an ER.
I’ve already gotten turned down on 3 ER Tech positions, 1 Dialysis tech position, 2 EMT positions, and at a Starbucks. But I’m trying hard not to get frustrated.
And I’ve got a lead on what something that I’m really hoping for. A job as an EMT-I in Kabul, Afghanistan. It’s a year contract and the pay is incredible. I’m really hoping i get it since it sounds interesting, is remote medicine, and would help pay off all my bills and let me finish medic school anywhere I wanted to without having to worry about working.

Now, back to looking for more jobs and being a lazy bum… Oh look, Chai :)

Argh

Finding a job here in Colorado at this point, at least in the EMS field, is seemingly difficult since I’m not a medic yet. So I’m seriously thinking about getting a cert in either OK, TX, or LA. All three states take my NREMT-I/85 cert at face value, and at least TX and OK have opening right now.

I’m just getting frustrated today, since I have gotten 4 turn downs in the last 8 hours. I have a lot more apps out there, but I just feel more and more frustrated. Rent is now paid for June, but I’m just feeling a pinch with money right now. Hell, I don’t know if I’ll have enough to certify in another state, plus eat. Let alone move out there if I get a job. What I might have to do is see if I can borrow some money from my parents with the promise to pay them back once I get back on my feet finally.

This is not the first time I’m regretting leaving Albuquerque. I had a set job there and was making good money. I could have lived comfortably for a while, but due to my ex marrying my ex-partner, problems with school, and just not being happy… I leapt before I really looked out over the edge. I just keep thinking that maybe I should have done it a little more careful.

But it’s already done. Now it’s time to pick myself back up, dust myself off, and proceed to get back to kicking ass and being a damned good EMT or Tech. And if that means moving again, this time with no friends there, I’ll do it. And probably come out of it a better person than I was to begin with. Afterall, that’s why I can still talk to friends with the wonders of the net and phone. Thank god for all of them.

Closer and closer

I start my last week of work tomorrow night. And I should be finishing packing up the trailer and truck next a week from Monday to head up to Lakewood.

But.. Someone tell me if this makes sense. CO doesn’t recognize NREMT-I/85, just I/99. Ok I’m fine with that, I’ll be getting a CO EMT-B license. But apparently their IV cert isn’t state-wide. So to present each service with something so I can be considered IV certified, I need an actual certificate of training. And they won’t take my NREMT-I/85 license. How does that work? I mean as an Intermediate one of the main reasons they exist is to provide IV therapy without needing a medic on scene. Yet my intermediate license doesn’t show that I possess the knowledge and proficiency in IV therapy to do it in the field… Oh well. My hospital that I work for now said they can print me out a certificate stating that I’m certified to do IVs and that should work… I hope. If not, I’ll have to do a class at Aurora Community College… Although that will get my EKG as well… which should be a breeze.

Well, I’m headed home now. Just got done with REI and their scratch and dent sale. Was looking for a warm jacket that isn’t work related for CO, and I found one :)