20 October 2008
"Striking Out The Rookie"
People come and people go.
Some stay for a cup of coffee. Some stay for coffee, tea, dessert, a couple of movies, your first born child, 13 years of school, a mid life crisis, an enlarged prostate, and some green jello fed to them through a straw just after Bingo on a Sunday afternoon.
It doesn't matter how long you decide to stick around, you will always have those that you become friends with, and those who's pictures become the bull's eye on your dartboard.
Nonetheless, it is what you are expected to find no matter where the journey. You deal with it, and then you go on.
But what about the ones who are in a position of power and attempt to use their newly given gift to direct chaos and mayhem to those below them when, in essence, they couldn't hit water if they fell out of a fucking boat.
Again...I like to call them dispatchers.
Another day another 43 cents after taxes.
Danielle and I were quite impressed today. It only took a whole minute, into our shift, before the screwing of the squads kicked in.
Today's first adventure was to go to a hospital in our southern district and post.
Now, for you out there that aren't really savvy with the private side of EMS, posting is like going to a brothel. You know you are going to get screwed, it is just a matter of when, where, and how much it is going to cost you. At least I think they use lube in a brothel.
I think it took all of 38 seconds after arriving in the parking lot before the call for the first run of the day graced our presence.
"42, I need you to go to the "A" building, sixth floor, for a chest pain." A crude and smug voice came over the speaker of our radio.
Sixth Floor, huh?
Let me take the time to explain the layout of this hospital we are at. As you have all brilliantly deducted, there are at least two buildings. Designated as, of course "A" and "B". Both have the same name, both run by the same people, both are not connected to the other which means, for those of you keeping score at home, that the only way to get a patient from one building to the other is to load them up in an ambulance, pull out of the driveway, go to the NEXT driveway and unload them into the other said building. Total distance of travel....352 feet....Literally.
Sixth Floor in "A" building???
Well, that would be geriatric psych. It is where the elderly go to visit the wizard or whoever else they are seeing at that particular time. Not a very popular vacation spot, but it does have its share of entertainment to it.
So off we go, to get crazy Claudia (not her name) and bring her to the mother ship for some probing of sorts.
Backing up, we began our check list.
Houston, we have a problem.
Awesome! We are on our way to Oz lit up like a Christmas tree and the fucking siren doesn't work.
Here is the kicker behind this...
THIS IS A BRAND NEW TRUCK!!!!!!!
Are you KIDDING ME!!!!!!!
Again...going back for another explanation. Danielle and I got hired in June. We were promised this new truck (that had already been sitting in the bay) from day one. It was their way of "wooing" us to stay.
It is October...
We have been in the truck for a total of 13 hours at this point.
Don't ask...you really don't want to know.
Meanwhile, back on the ranch. Our profanities were many and our luck had amazing similarities to the stock exchange. Our only salvo was that this was the next building. 350 feet to the fun house. Had it been farther, I think I probably would have chucked the truck into the lake.
Parking up front, we grabbed our gear and headed into Emerald City. Hitting the penthouse floor, we were met by the staff who smiled with that creepy grin that makes you walk just a bit slower to where you have to go.
Down the hall, noise was heard that didn't relate to anything that I had ever come in contact with. It was, for lack of a better term, a chatoic melody that resonated throughout the hallway. A noise that got louder as we got closer. The hairs on our spines began to stand up. Closer we crept hearing our own heartbeats with every touch of our boots to the floor. The squeltching grew into our sub-conscious and burned a tomb into our minds. The noise was deafening, hideous, and teeth clentching.
It was the patient....she was singing..
Outstanding...Ethel Merman is serenading us.
Talking to the staff, we found out that they determined she had chest pain 30 minutes prior to calling us. They stated she was pale, diaphoretic, and hypotensive (low blood pressure).
I would have to say, that for someone who was about to kick the bucket, she sure could carry a tune. A tune to what, I don't know, but she sure was howling "la la la la la la la la la". (No, literally, that is what she was howling.)
See....(Okay..so I am a little over dramatic...she wasn't THAT hairy).
God, I love you nurses and staff on these skilled floors, but if there is one thing that I have learned in all my years of expirience is never trust the vital signs they give you.
So, with this, Danielle had begun to collect her own data and I began to talk to the patient...which is like asking a baby which stocks to buy.
(Of course there is one in every crowd that will screw it up....Thanks Joey).
Loading her up on the cot, we quickly wheeled her to the comfort of our nice new squad...without a working siren.
Upon more of a personal one on one, I found out that she does have a little bit of pain in her chest, kind of dizzy, and that she just gave birth three weeks ago to a boy.
Oh, she is 89 years of age.
Back in the Broken Buggy and off to the other driveway where the staff awaited us with open arms. I sure hope they plugged their ears though.
After singing, what I can only interperate as something from Rodgers and Hammerstien, to the ED staff, I went to call the dispatch to let them know of the misfortunes of our vehicle. Quick fix, I figured. When the maintence manager arrives, we take a quick trip to see him, he puts the magic touch on the truck, and off we are to take grandma back over the river and through the woods.
The correct response was "Go back to base and get your back-up truck then go on with your trips."
The response I received was "Well, you won't be doing any emergencies so do worry about it."
Hello?!?! McFly...you just sent me on one.
"I just got done doing an emergency." I had to remind the rookie fuck that was in the hot seat.
"Well, you won't do anymore." He proceeded to tell me as if his word is the word of the Lord.
"And what are the odds on that?!?! Fine, when that call comes in for Sagamore Hills (a free standing emergency room that has to transport people out with lights and sirens because they are not near a hospital.) You remember that when Kevin (Our General Manager and king of all GPS) calls us and ask why we are taking 45 minutes to get there. I know what I will tell him, will you?" I responded.
With that, I hung up the phone.
You know, it would just be our luck that we do go on with this truck and then a patient codes in the back of our rig.
Hey, it's a dog eat dog world out there...good help is hard to find.
A half hour later I received a page.
"Go back and get 39."
Strike one, rookie.
Satisfied with our moral victory, Danielle and I headed back to base to pick up our reserve unit. An ambulance a few years older, but a little bigger, a little wider, and the siren actually worked in this one.
Okay....NOW we were ready to roll. Now we are ready loaded for bear. Now we are locked and loaded.
Now the ass kicking begins.
2 minutes and 38 seconds into our voyage in the new truck, the squad phone rings. I thought it was the maintence manager asking what the problem with the squad was.
I was wrong.
It was dispatch.
I was looking for the lube.
Now, when someone calls you on the phone, there are certain things that you ascertain in order to interperate as to the validity and nature of the call.
There is the greeting. This necessitates the urgency of the call.
The tone of their voice. "Hello" in many variations can say just how bad your day is going to suck.
The rate of their response. The quicker they say something, the bigger you are hosed.
"39" Danielle answered.
"Hey 39." The Dispatcher answered with a slyness in his voice.
"How can we bend over for you." I asked still pissed from before.
"Do you guys have a bariatric set up in your truck?" He asked.
Okay, c'mon. Do you really think that this is, in any possible way, going to be good. It is kinda comparible to Judas going up to Jesus and saying "Hey Jesus, out of curiousity, have you ever, I don't know, been hung on a cross....hypotetically that is?"
This is the LBS (large body surface) system used for bariatric patients. The platform (shown) attaches to our cot so that our larger patients will be a little more comfortable. The mattress (not shown) is also wider to assist in the most comfortable transport for the larger patient.
"We have the platform but not the mattress." I told him thinking this will be the end of this conversation.
"Oh, okay, well, can you use the regular mat on this. I have a patient that needs to get transferred." He asked in a commanding voice.
"No, hence the need for a bariatric cot." I told him perplexed.
"Well, you will have to do it that way." He proceeded to tell me as if that was the end of the conversation.
"YOU HAVE GOT TO BE FUCKING KIDDING ME...That is like putting a toothpick on a paper towel. It just isn't going to fit properly." I yelled when I hung up the phone.
I could feel my blood pressure boil. I could breathe fire I was so amped up. Some young punk with like five minutes of expirience is trying to tell me how to do my job. It sure is a good thing that the comm center was in the other direction, I may have just done my best postal worker impression had it been not.
Okay, calm down. Let's get there, evaluate the scene, and see where we need to go from there. I have, on occassion, have found that a bariatric patient will fit on the regular cot and that the weight given is a little over exaggerated. A 550 pound person is actually 55 kg (110 lbs). Another screw up from our eyes in the sky.
Danielle and I walked up to the floor, hoping we were wrong, praying for a miracle.
Yeah...that is pretty much what we were up against.
She made eye contact with Danielle. Danielle made eye contact back. Good thing she had on her stupid proof vest otherwise our dispatchers might have killed her where she stood.
"OOOOOOOOOOooo...I really have to pee!!!" is about all she could muster out in her 500 pound glory.
"I will go and get your nurse RIGHT NOW!" Danielle told her slowly retreating to the hallway.
Danielle went for the nurse, I went for the phone.
I called dispatch. Remember...I am pissed the hell off.
"Yeah, this is 42. Can't do that trip like you want. Just isn't going to happen without the mat."
"Well, you are gonna have to do it, we are busy and I don't have the resources to help you."
This is where the switch inside me clicked. I was beyond angry. I was beyond furious. I was 8 shades of pissed off.
"Listen, probie. This isn't going to happen. I could give two shits as to how busy you are. My primary concern is the patient, her comfort, and her safety. I have asked nicely for you to help us out, but you refuse my request so here is how it is going to go down. You have two choices here and only two. You can either, A) let us go back to the base and grab the mat from the other truck and come back and move her the PROPER WAY...."
"OR WHAT?!?!" He interjected as if he was going to get the last word.
"Or, we refuse this trip all together. Now, listen carefully, I will speak slowly. Those, my friend, are your ONLY two options. There will be no middle ground to this. Go ahead and take a second to think about it, I have nothing but time."
There was a long pause...
"FINE. Go and get the damn mat, but YOU need to tell the nursing staff why we are late." As if he was gonna zing me with that one.
"Oh, I will. I will let them know that our dispatch center is less than competent of doing their job and their inablitly to send a proper crew is the reason for the delay. Buck up, Sparky, the day will only get better."
I hung up. Strike Two, Junior.
I could feel the heat from his temperature from 40 miles away.
Danielle, who can sell a Ketchup popsicle to an eskimo in white gloves went to do the dirty work, which was her specialty, and inform the nursing staff who, in their amazement, didn't understand why we didn't have the attachment to begin with.
So, off we go, back to base (which, by the way, is only fifteen minutes from the hospital) to retrieve the mat from the truck that we were previously in.
Thirty minutes later, we were back at the hospital and ready to move our patient to her skilled nursing facility.
Next to us was unit 24. A crew from our base who we chat with from time to time. They are also a medic unit so it is rare when we cross paths but it is good to see them when we do. Especially right now.
Enlisting their assistance, we went back up to the floor to move two ton Tessie onto our mammal mover.
The doors opened, the gloom hung over us, our backs started to cramp.
As we turned the corner, we noticed something that seemed to strike us as a little bit strange. (like today wasn't strage enough.)
There sure were a lot of white coats in the hallway leading up to the room.
Making eye contact with one of the nurses, she looked at me as if she had seen a ghost.
(yeah, I just said that)
"Are you here to pick her up?" She asked with hesitation in her voice.
Gee...what gave you that clue?
"Yeah, we are back." I sighed.
"Oh, well she isn't going out now...she coded ten minutes ago." The nurse told us.
<--- this is what I looked like. Yes, sports fans, the woman whom dispatch wanted me to put on a mattress that was three sizes too small then hall in a truck with no working siren to a nursing home where she can go to..well, I don't know what she would do, died while I went to get something to make her trip better. So in essence folks, she would have died in my truck. Danielle and the 24 crew were stunned. I smirked a smile. I grabbed Danielle's cell phone. "Dispatch." "42 here. Yeah, that bariatric trip? Yeah, we can't do that now." With the prequel to a lot of swearing "God Damn it, why not now?!?!?" "Yeah, 'cause she's dead." Long pause...... Still paused..... ............ ............ ............ "Um, why?" I can actually hear the look on her face over the phone as they said this to me. "How the fuck should I know...maybe she had to pee really bad it was killing her." The phone dropped. I hung up. Strike Three....He's leaving...that's more beer for us. Rookies. You know, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to show a little compassion and use that bump two feet above your ass to know that us out here in the field know a little bit about our job and how to do it to the best of our ability. It is easy for someone to sit and push buttons and make our lives miserable because your primary function is to clear your board. All I ask is for some common sense. Christmas is coming....maybe I should write that down.
Rounding Third and Heading Home,