Wednesday, August 29, 2007

- Calling Dick Tracy! Come in, Tracy!

We have been getting slammed all shift. We stop in at the Golden Arches in Lakeside, because hey, it's just my arteries clogging, nothing important, right?

I walk in and place my order.

"I CAN HAS CHEEZBURGER?"

The lady at the register eyes me as one might eye an annoying mosquito - or perhaps a tired looking EMT giving her lip and holding up her line.

"What?"

"Number 2, with cheese, plain, please. Coke to drink."

Take that, arteries.

Of course, we get a call right after we place our order. Dispatch can smell when something good happens to paramedics, and they don't like it. Think Narcan to a heroin addict. Yeah. That level of hate. Well, god bless the stalwart employees of this restaurant, because our food was ready in no time flat once they realized we had a call. So with cheezburger in hand we take off down the road.

The section of town we're in is infamous for violent crime and drugs. We arrive to the residence to find the fire department on scene holding a lady's arm up. It is wrapped in a large bandage. The lady looks familiar to me. They are sitting on the steps of a rundown home. I walk up and introduce myself. The Firefighter tells me it's deep and will definitely need stitches. When I ask the lady what happened. In a rapid narrative, she tells me "I was washing some dishes and there was a broken glass, uh I broke a glass. Last night. It, uh, I broke it and put the glass in my sink. And I was doing dishes, and I didn't see it. I cut it." She will not make eye contact with me.

It doesn't take a Mensa membership to figure out she might be lying. My partner takes over and I ask the cops if they've been inside. They say they haven't been past the living room, where the lady was sitting. I ask him to come with me. He humors me and we go in the front door. There is a large puddle of congealing blood. It trails in from the kitchen, but I see immediately that it doesn't trail from the sink. It trails from the hallway. Just to make sure, I check the sink - no broken glass. I check the trashcan - no broken glass. Something ain't right.

Gingerly, carefully, watching my every step, I follow the trail of blood into the bathroom. There, I find a larger pool of blood, and a small broken window. There is blood and bloody fingerprints all over. Hmm. Crime scene, I realize belatedly. Uh-oh. I carefully walk back out and tell the police officer what I've found. He calls it in and as I'm leaving I suddenly realize where I recognize the lady from - she's the Woo-Woo You-Hoo!

I walk back outside. "You used to live in Mosquito Bayou, didn't ya."

"Yes."

I kneel down. "Did you try to hurt yourself today?"

"Yes."

"Why?"

She looks up at me. "The rock. I can't handle it no mo'."

We bring her in. I tell the Doctor at the hospital what has happened. When I leave, she is getting stitches put in her wrist. I go over to her, and grab her hand, and tell her it will be ok.

* * *

A few months later, another crew returns to the residence. A female matching the description of our patient was found dead of an overdose.

-MM

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

-5000

5000 pages visits? Holy crap. I didn't even know you guys were paying attention.

Revere, Massachusetts?

Congrats! In keeping with my giant stack of GI Joe Marvel comics, you win a No-Prize! Enjoy!

A Big shout out to PIXIE, for referring the visitor! Thanks!

Also please welcome NYC EMS to the blogroll!


I'm working on a post right now, expect to see it this evening!

-MM

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

- Sweat

The man is cold and sweaty, lying on his floor in the kitchen, orange juice spread around my boots like a bizarre neon flood. He is unresponsive to me. I put him on the monitor

"I was here last week," says my partner. "It took G-Money four sticks to get a good line."

G-Money's IV skills are legendary. He has tubed countless victims.He has been a paramedic for 15 years and had precepted scores of paramedic students, most of whom now work solo on choppers and planes or are the EMS chiefs for local fire department. His bowel movement smell of roses. His touch heals the sick and infirm, and he's got a golden halo that spins above his company cap.

On the other hand, I'm a newly cleared paramedic with sticky orange juice boots who's only been on his own for a month, and who's friends admit he has self-confidence "issues." (actual quote.)

I leap, puma like, into action, barking orders. I order a CBG as I put my patient on the monitor and grab a pressure. It's lower than I like, but I can work with it.

"14." Says my partner, rummaging in our ALS bag.

"What? No, that's way too big. Give me an 18 or 20."

She smiles as she comes out of the bag with a tourniquet, a 20g IV catheter, an assembled amp of D50, a lock, and tape. "No. His sugar is 14."

"Oh. Ok."

I take a tourniquet to his arm and start looking for a vein. I note some scars on the arm that look surgical...something else is going on on this arm. I feel around. Something hard and plastic is under the skin. Crap. Shunt.

I wrap the tourniquet around his other arm. I can actually see bruises where G-Money was trying to get a line. This guy's veins are crap, and when I do a little test poke, roll away from me like all the girls I've ever asked out. I stick and miss an IV in his hand. I get another in his wrist that blows. I can feel panic rising inside me. "Glucagon," I tell my partner. "If I miss this one, we roll. I don't want to play around." I stick the Glook. If I can't get the stick soon, and the Glucagon doesn't take, I'm going to have to drill him, and I don't want to do that.


I rewrap the tourniquet higher up on his arm, shooting directly for his AC. I nail it! I beat G-Money!!! As I secure it I realize that our patient is too sweaty for our tape to stick. I ask for a kling wrap from one of the firefighters, who I don't recognize. He's new. Uh-oh.

I secure the IV best I can by drying off the skin and wiping it with and alcohol pad. I push in the D50. The firefighter has yet to find the kling and is now rearranging my ALS bag. Screw it. Just as I reach across to grab some more tape the patient starts moving his arms away from me. The IV, of course stays in my hand. Blood is now mixing with the orange juice on the floor, and I curse and wrap it up. Sweat is pouring from my head, into the mess on the floor.

Finally, the patient is starting to come around and wake up, and he's up enough to sit up and take some oral glutose. I get him loaded up and prepare to start looking for another site, my confidence bolstered by the fact that I managed to hit his crap veins twice already. I pop another IV in his AC and hang some D5. As we pull up his CBG reads 147.

When we arrive at the hospital, he is laughing and joking with us. I get him a sandwich. The nurse asks us if I want some OJ to go with it.

"Well, ok."

Although I have enough OJ in my pants now to provide breakfast refreshment for the Minnesota Viking's O-Line. Fabulous.


* * *
Due to staffing shortages, I am being assigned a brand new EMT-B next week on a permanent basis. Anyone have any tips or tricks for training someone new? Besides patience, and lots of it?

Also, a shout out to my man AD, who may have found him some lovin. We're rooting for you, big guy. And hey, Babs, you got a sister? ::wink wink::

Welcome Babs to the blogroll, everyone. She's a fine, upstanding southern lady nurse with a heart of gold and hair to match. Check 'er out!

-MM

EDIT: FIXED AMBULANCE DRIVER'S LINK...thanks Babs!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

- Ejection


Man that was a good game...wish I could've gotten a few more minutes of sleep. Well, at least I'll make it to work on time. If I'm late again they'll fire me. I can't believe that trooper gave me a ticket back there.

Where are my smokes? Fuck! Where'd they go? Oh...on the floorboard over there.

I think I can reach em....stretttchhh.....

***




"Well, shit. I'm out of ideas."


Best Partner Ever and I are gathered at the foot of the highway on ramp, with other representatives of the local first responder cadre: some BackWater Parish VFFs, a couple of Backwater Parish deputies, and a Trooper. The Trooper kicks his tire in disgust. He has just been denied clearance to halt traffic on the interstate long enough for us to sneak down the wrong way and come up the other side.


The problem is that along this stretch of Interstate there is nothing but water for seven miles - we are near the beginning of the bridge and the accident is somewhere in the middle - but the bridge is so narrow at a choke point over Bourbon River that the 18 wheelers, stopped in both lanes the whole way down the roadway to the accident, do not have room to pull off to either side. This time of night is prime driving time for truckers and they line the interstate the whole mile and a half to the crash site. Our ambulance will not squeeze between them. The night is too foggy to allow use of the choppers, and no one can tell us if traffic is getting through the accident site. If it isn't we can send up a unit from the other side of the bridge, in the wrong lane, to come and pick the patient up. And If it is going through, we can stop it. But to do that, we have to get on scene.


I look at BPE. He and I are thinking the same thing.


"OK," I state decisively. "We Hoof it. Troop, start trying to get those trucks out of the way so we can get the Rescue Rig up there if we need it."

We load everything we think we might need on the stretcher. I chunk the suction underneath the head.

The call had come in thirty minutes earlier. A pickup truck had strayed too far to the side of the interstate past Bourbon River, clipped the side at 70 miles an hour, and began flipping. Luckily, the truck did not flip over the guard rails into the swamps 30 feet below, but the driver wasn't wearing his seatbelt, and is thrown out of the front window at some point during the rotation. Luckily, since he was ejected and it seems no one else is in the car, we can afford to wait on the rescue rig. It's a gamble.

"You ready?" I ask BPE. I know right now he has to be regretting taking up smoking. I know that I'm regretting taking up cheeseburgers.

He shrugs. "Fuck it. Let's go."

We start jogging with the stretcher between us, up the incline of the Bourbon bridge. It's a good quarter mile up to the top, on an incline. At least we'll be OK coming down the other side, I reason. Let me tell you something, folks - there's a reason the treadmills have an Incline option. I'm feeling the burn. Drivers and Passengers that we're running by gasp as they realize who we are.

We are both sweating pretty well by the time we get to the top. People have suddenly realized that there is an emergency now, but can't still can't pull of to either side.

We crest and then start down the other side. Back at the bottom of the hill one of the VFFs has manged to get his metro in between a small gap. It's another quarter mile down the bridge, back onto the elevated interstate and I can finally see that traffic is stopped completely - the truck is lying diagonally across both lanes. I grab my cell phone and call dispatch, and tell them it's clear to send a unit up the other side.

We go maybe another half mile before we get to the crash. It is a mess. The patient is lying on his back, and an off duty deputy is holding c-spine. "He started breathing funny about 2 minutes ago." As he says this the patient lets out a great snoring respiration.

BPE and I've only been working together for 3 months, but we are like a well oiled machine. I slap a collar on the patient. Against the tops of my fingers, I can feel a massive head wound. I finish hooking the Velcro and open my hands as BPE tosses me a BVM. He readies his intubation equipment as I hook the BVM up to hi-flow and start bagging the patient. He has not breathed since the first snoring respiration on scene. I slide out of the way as he scopes the airway and looks in. He asks for pressure and I give it. He slides the tube in and gets no resistance. The ETCo2 shows us in. I slap pads on him and we have a bradycardic rhythm at 50, with a slight pulse. BPE does his trauma exam. We board the patient, BPE confirms good lung sounds. He feel some creptius on the ribs, but it's not interfering with anything yet.

All of a sudden there are flashing red lights and I see another crew pull up. They are from out of the service area. We load up and the out of town medic jumps in the back with BPE and they start working the guy. I get behind the wheel. We are thirty minutes out from the nearest hospital and 40 minutes out from the one that can take care of him the best. I hear the familiar CHUNK of the defibrillator. The patient has tach'd out on us. I slam the gas, leaving the out of town EMT to get all our gear. A supervisory unit is going to bring up our unit as soon as the traffic clears.

We bring the patient, who has started to move against our straps and headbed, into the ER. As we wheel him in I grab his hand and squeeze it, and tell him everything is going to be OK, that he's at the hospital. Faintly, he squeezes back.

Unusually, the state troopers have all of the patients information - he had been pulled over coming through Smokestack City for speeding, and the ticket was found on the floor inside the vehicle.

We hand off and go outside. In the unit there is blood everywhere. It takes the 3 of us an hour to clean everything.

* * *
We visit the patient about 3 weeks later. He is still in the ICU and has not come around. We ask to see him, but the staff will not let us. "The case is under litigation. The family is suing the state for inadequate response. That they refused to close traffic down."

I remember how angry the trooper was when he was denied his request to shut everything down.

Later, a doctor who realizes who we are tells us that he has a 1 percent chance of ever getting back normal neurological function. He had coded a few times and they think he might've had an anoxic event.

* * *
A year later I am in the lobby of small nursing home/hospital up in the northern part of the state. A nurse recognizes my name. "Did you transport my son?"

She tells me the details and the call comes rushing back to me. Apparently she remembered seeing my name on the run report they received.

We talk about the call. Apparently the dad was a lawyer and was really upset at what happened but then dropped the case when they received our run report with the details of the call.

My palms sweat around my coke as I ask her the question.

"Did he make it? The doctors didn't give him much of a chance, last I heard."

She smiles, and tells me to walk down the hall with her. She brings me into a room.

Our patient is lying in a bed. He looks at me.

"He can't talk, but he can understand everything you say. They said he's been slowly getting back some function."

I walk over to the patient and grab his hand and squeeze it.

He squeezes back.

-MM







Wednesday, August 8, 2007

- Trustees of Modern Chemistry III


It is 3 in the afternoon, and a nice, Louisiana fall is unfolding before my eyes. The trees are a beautiful orange, and the temperature outside is extremely pleasant, although there is a definite chill in the air. It's going to get nippley when the sun goes down. A bitch in the yard next door to our station lays in the sun, her puppies playing with her ears. Her owners are big fans of XXXX Ambulance Service and often, during hunting season, they will bring us cuts of venison and rabbit stew. In the summer we get melons and vegetables. Best Partner Ever* and I are sitting on the steps, me with a copy of The Economist magazine and him with his cigarette. I smile at him and he smiles back. Everything is well.

"Looks like the dollar's getting it's ass kicked again," I state.

"Hmmmph." Best Partner Ever blows a smoke ring as he soaks this in. "You actually read that shit?"

"I can infer a lot from looking at the graphs, ok? I am a High School Graduate. The sad smiley face and big downward arrow next to the dollar sign was plain enough for me."

We both laugh, and all of a sudden this makes me realize that I have to pee. I also realized that we missed lunch. I make the critical error of mentioning these two items to BPE. For those of you in the biz, you can draw a conclusion of what happened next.

As "...and get some lunch?" left my lips, the station phone rang.

"Priority One towards Mosquito Bayou - female found in bayou, swimming, fully clothed. Family states she has a history of substance abuse. Law Enforcement enroute."

Lovely.

We rocket along the windy country road. The residence actually is outside the City (I use that term loosely) limits, but not by much. Mosquito Bayou is usually good for two types of calls - Complete and Utter bullshit, and Complete and Utter OH SHIT.

Yeah. Guess which one this is.

We're making good time to the scene - I swear the engine in the BattleWagon runs better in the cool, crisp air, and it hums beautifully. Even the impending clash with someone who's high enough to think that taking a dip in the cold bayou isn't enough to dampen my spirits. It's too nice of a day.

Let me interrupt the story now to tell you something - God knows when I'm happy. To quote R. Lee Ermy, He plays his games, and we play ours. A lot of times, I'm positive I'm just a tiny pawn in the master plan of things.

Other times, I'm sure I'm the rube on the hidden camera show he has piped to his throne, watching me as receive the celestial equivalent of "Television's Bloopers and Practical Jokes."
Laugh it up, Jesus.

I have an inkling that something is wrong when not one, but TWO BackWater Parish pass us up in the opposite direction. I hop on the horn and call dispatch, who says, really really really, that they called the po-leece to come with us. But just in case....hold up. So that they can call the police.

We shut down and loop back around behind the troopers, who pull up at a local restaurant. They've both made it inside already. We explain the situation to said LEOs. The elder, his belly extending prodigiously over his utility belt, informs us that he has already ordered his food, and will NOT be accompanying us on our little "expedirtion". The youth, known to our station as Tater, is eager, as my partner and I are, and agrees to escort us to the scene. We inform dispatch of this, and they give their consent to our plan of action. The family has called back to state that the errent member has returned is now soaking, still fully clothed, in a tub.

Outstanding.

We thunder on around country corners, covering the road quickly, and pull up to a run down, beat up house. Normally we would cover in the unit a safe distance away, but BPE and I know Tater the deputy well, and I'm worried that he might have his hands full. As soon as we step out, I can hear a three tone call being delivered from inside the habitation - Wooooo -OOOO OOO-----OOOOh. Low, high, medium. Woooo-OOOOO-OOOOh. Like an air raid siren. As I pass a pair of gloves to the officer, the door to the domicile burts open, and out pops the guest of honor - soaking wet, in two layers of denim and finery, pupils so large I can see them from 20 feet away. I hunker protectively behind the deputy's car as he pulls his piece.

"GEDOWNONTHEGROUNNOW! RINOW!" He yells. Although I would've not previously believed it, at the site of two paramedics and an upset, armed deputy, her eyes go wider.

"WOOOOOO----OOOOO---OOOOH!" She shouts, waving her arms like a skydancer - one of those goofy ass things you see at grand openings and the like. Then she turns around and tries to run back inside, only to trip on a welcome mat. Tater seizes the opportunity and runs up the front steps. For all of her tininess, she puts up a good fight when he jumps on her - so much so that I, coming up the stairs, see that he is about to fall off. Apparently this particulah speciman of Cockus Crachedii (thanks, AD!) is super wiggly!Huzzah. I plant my knee in between her shoulder blades and Tater cuffs her up. She looks all the world like a cracked out, beached submarine. She slobbers and gibbers at us as her family rushes in and starts yelling at us.
"Wooooo
-OOOOOOO-----OOOOh! Wooooo-OOOOOOO-----OOOOh"

"What are you doin' to hea?! She was swimmin in da bi-yo! Bring her to da hospital! She sick, not under arrest!"

I leave the delicacies to Tater as the three of us hustle her out to the stretcher Best Partner Ever has thoughtfully pulled. We grab the monitor and bags I dropped in my haste to restrain Mistress Freakout the II and get her loaded into the back so BPE can do his assessment. After throwing a NRB on her I step back outside to the family and explain to them why we appeared to be so rough - the quicker we get her under control and loaded up, the quicker we can help her, and that calms them down. In reality I don't think my words have any calming effect - they're just happy this mess is off thier hands. I ask for her history and they tell me "She smokes the rock. All the damn time. Just got out of rehab. That bitch took my check!".

Fab-u-luss.

We get her restrained with hands at 12 and 5 (to the tune of Wooooo-OOOOOOO-----OOOOh! Wooooo-OOOOOOO-----OOOOh!) , and we get en route to the hospital with a police escort following - BPE has me patch a report. He has managed to verbally calm the patient and we even loosen the Headbed we taped on her to keep her from smacking her face on the plastic of the board. BPE reports slightly increased vital signs, but nothing to suggest excited deliruium. We bring her into the hospital - she is snoozing now, and we get her transferred over to the hospital bed with the help of BAPS Nurse, who you may remember from Medicmarch goes to seizure rodeo. Just then Bad Attitude Nurse bustles in, arms akimbo. "What the hell is this shit?" she asks loudly, pointing disgustedly at our patient.

I belatedly make a shushing gesture, but it's too late. We've awakened the little angel on the stretcher, and she lets us know.

"Wooooo-OOOOOOO-----OOOOh!"

I am pissed, but not as pissed as little angel. Her hands, which BPE and I were attempting to tie. My side is secured, but BPE's is not, and a hand reaches out and claws at BAPS nurse and then pulls off her NRB. BAPS Nurse cocks an eyebrow, and with no hesitation, CHOKESLAMS the rising Crachedii back onto the board.

As I've previously stated, BAPS Nurse is my hero.

"YA'LL TREATING ME LIKE AN ANIMAL!" Screams our bundle of joy.

BAPS Nurse's eyes are cold. "Act like an animal, you get treated like one"

The Patient is b52'd and later I see her sleeping.

Peaceful as all get out.

***
Guys, there's been a definite lack of updates, and I'm sorry. I'm going to post part II of this story when I get some free time as well as the WORST CALL EVER. Stay tuned.
-MM

PS * He really was my best partner ever. I miss him every shift. His wife's garter hangs from my rearview. We're going out at the end of the month on a three day weekend to The Big Easy, and I'm super excited.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

- More Trustees Of Modern Chemistry

So, I can't bare the thought of not posting SOMETHING, so here is a story, as told to me last night by my new partner.

"Well, we went out to this one guy who was walking down the street in nothing but his underwear, crawling around, pretending he was a big predatory cat. The cop had grabbed him but the guy was going apeshit in the car, so they called us. The guy is sweating, freaking out, tachy at 130, so we load him and head to the hospital with the cops behind us. This guy will not sit still and he keeps unbuckling seat belts. I go to put restraints on him and he jumps off the stretcher and hides in the back of the module, near the doors, peaking around the corner. I ask him what he's doing, and he goes 'Hiding - he's going to shoot me.' I'm trying to be helpful, and I ask him 'Who, the cop back there?' They guy goes 'BACK THERE?! BACK WHERE!' and does a weird James Bond ninja roll across the bench seat to the side door, which he grabs, opens and jumps out of."

"Well, we were in a residential area in a turn, and were only going about 10 miles an hour, but he loses his balance and trips over the curb, rolling across the sidewalk. I yell upfront to Kermit (ed: I call his partner "Kermit" because to me he looks like a giant Muppet) to pull over and as I'm stepping out of the side, the cop hits him like Warren Sapp tackling a third grader. The guy goes down and starts struggling with cop, but he's so sweaty that the cop can only get one hand cuffed. The cop gets tired of messing with him and drags him to the cop car, where he hooks the other end of the cuff and pulls out a JUG of mace and just lets the guy have it. Kermit and I were caught in the blast, and then the wind changed direction, so all of us are choking and crying and gagging. The perp is slowly shaking his head 'No' side-to-side, and he's squeaking like a baby T-Rex each time - 'aaaahhhh....aaaaahhhh'. The cop, cursing and crying, finally tosses the guy in the back, hops up front, and rolls down all the windows on the cruiser. He takes off lights and sirens and we follow him. "

"Well, apparently, Kermit had gotten the mace in his eyes pretty bad and he had two stacks of four-by-fours and some sterile water I had grabbed for him, and he had them pressed to his face. 'It feels like I have a goatee of fire!' he keeps saying. 'It burns! I've got a goatee of fire!' Well, needless to say, the ER was surprised to see us. We ended up getting the guy sedated and we're all washing our eyes out when another combative lady comes out of her room and starts walking towards Kermit."

Here's something you have to understand about Kermit, my dear readers - He is a 6'2", 260 pound TEDDY BEAR. He's 20 and was raised in a sheltered, pentecostal family. He doesn't smoke, drink, or curse. He's innocent - not something you can say for very many people in this profession.

"Kermit is standing there, with his big, dopey, Muppet baby face and rubs his eyes like a 3 year old, with both hands, and looks down at this little old black lady. She looks him up and down, and her face twists up with a sour look. Kermit finishes and grabs a paper towel, drying his hands off. 'Can I help you, ma'am?' He asks the lady, sweet as can be.

'Get Out of my way, you fat motherfucker! I gotta SHIT!'"

"And with that she brushes past Kermit, and goes in the bathroom, and proceeds to have one of the noisiest BMs I've ever heard. But Kermy doesn't hear any of this. After the lady tells him off, he just puts his head down and walks out of the ER like a kicked puppy."

"When we got back to the station later, found him in the kitchen with his head in the freezer. 'It feels like I had a goatee of fire,' he says."


***

On a related note, 2 DOAs in 2 shifts. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.

Sorry for the nonupdates, guys - not much fun going on yet. I'll get something up soon, though, I have a couple of old calls in my head I can post up if this block keeps up.

-MM