Wednesday, December 31, 2008

- Holiday Times

For some reason, everytime it's the holiday season, all I can think of is that great Monty Python Song and Dance Number.

Happy New Year, you guys.

Friday, December 26, 2008

- Updates

All my best laid plans to screw with FNG are all screwed up because he turned out to be a sly and crafty learner, sparing him the brunt of my mindgames, but I got moved to the Critical Care unit at our station...

...leading to what has been a 6 week death spiral of every new employee we've hired. I don't mind teaching someone, but having to go through the same stuff every shift was wearing me thin...

...really thin. And even though I only have to see her for twenty minutes a week, tops, the urge to strangle Lazy Paramedic (formerly partner) is so intense my eyeballs bulge 6 or 7 centimeters from their sockets every time I see her. I also was turned down for a promotion...

...which kind of works out though, because I'm enrolling back into school to finish up my little punk-ass associates degree. If I nail straight As, I'll go premed, and if not, on to Nursing...

...and apparently The Higher Power has decided to award me for not going ape-shit on anyone because guess who's coming back to be my partner until she gets into medical school?

That's right. Izzy.

Merry X-mas to me! And Happy holidays to all you guys!


Thursday, December 18, 2008

- 2x4

There is a large crown of perhaps forty people clustered around the three cop cars and rescue truck. It is four AM, and we've been, well, we've been getting hammered. No, not hammered, where you wake up with a screaming brain next to some girl who's name you can't remember and oh God you're wearing her underwear again oh God oh God what is wrong with you.

No, we've been dick-scratches favorite nail this evening, and although I would like to try and look interested in this patient, I cannot.

"Why are you crying?"

"I (wuuuuuuuaaahhh) my nail! Wuuuah!"

I look at my partner, who looks like shit. He looks at me.

"Wow, yeah. I'll grab the trauma bag."

I turn back to the patient, and squat down to her level, and take a deep breath.

"Wow," she says, "that's a mighty big vein you've got throbbing in your forehead!"

"Yeah," I say. "It comes and goes. How'd you break your nail?"

"Sumdood was swinging a 2x4 around in the club."

"Oh." This, at least, is marginally interesting. I gamely try to engage my brain into full interrogative mode. "What...uh...where...where was this at?"

She points toward the RR tracks. There's a club, not too far away. "Over dere."

"Oh. Ok. You want to go to the hospital. You're hand could be fractured." It wasn't. It wasn't even close to being fractured. Nothing was wrong with her. But they don't let me tell that to people, so instead I lie. "If it's bothering you , you need to see the doctor."

"No, I'm fine."

Silently, I thank providence. Maybe I can get a whole 45 minutes of sleep before waking up to clean the station and wash the truck.

"Uh, March?" says one of the cops. "We've got another one here."

This patient is a young man who's been struck on the head with the 2x4. He has a minor lac, and also does not want to go to the hospital, even when I tell him that he could be seriously injured, slip into a coma, or die, if he does not want to go to the hospital.

"Fo' Real?"

"Yeah, man. Fo Real."

"Well I'm just gonna get my cousin to take me to BackWater Hospital."

I'm too tired to argue. He's awake, alert, oriented, and vitals check out. I'm too tired to argue (although somewhere in the back of my head, a little voice says I should never be to tired to argue.)

"Yeah, man, sumdood was going CRAZY with that shit. Swinging it around like he was fucking Sammy Sosa or shit."

"Sign here." Well, at least I can get thirty minutes of sleep.

A girl walks up, with pain in her shoulder.

"He caught me on the backswing, it don't hurt though."

Then why the fuck are you standing here?

I give her an icepack after assesing CPMS, and get another refusal.

The ink isn't dry before a Firefighter walks up, a young lady in tow.

"What happened?"

"Some guy were swinging, like, a stick! He hit a bottle, and it hit me! He were crazy! He was a meaniac!"

She has some minor lacs to the inside of her right leg. The only thing hurt here is my eyes - I mean, I'm no prize, but she is absurdly too large to be wearing shorts like this. If she would've worn some proper sized and fitted clothing, she would've escaped with no scratches.

I obtain the last refusal, and grab the PA of the ambulance and address the crowd.

"Attention, Attention. If anyone else has been struck by the 2x4 wielding psycho, please report to the back of my ambulance for treatment. "

Forty or fifty pairs of eyes turn and look at me like I'm crazy.

postscript: instead of sleeping for 7 minutes before having to get up again, I watch an infomercial for Shamwow!...that thing is awesome.


Friday, November 28, 2008

- Gang Bangin' (Holy shit!)

We're paged out for a shooting at around 3 in the morning - not to say this wasn't expected.

There has already been a shooting tonight, and it seems that retaliatory gunfire has been mandatory. This time it's a little different, however - someone has loaded up a shotgun with slugs, and opened up on the supposed shooter's (from the first murder tonight) house.

Well, the shooter wasn't home, but his 61 year old mother was. There are at least three holes in the door and front wall of the house. I can actually see light coming through from inside. Shotgun shells are scattered allover the driveway, circled by little orange hoops of spray paint to mark them as evidence.

"It's kind of messy in there," says one of the cops. "I was like, 'Holy Shit!'"

I walk in and look at the scene on the floor in front of me. "Holy shit!" I whisper to myself.

Apparently when the shooting began, the first slug - the one that punched a hole through the door, also punched a hole through her, entering through the rear of her left calf, through what I can now see is an inch wide ragged hole. If the front of your foot was 0 degrees, and the read of your calf 180, the slug has entered at a 225 degree angle.

Traveling through the lady's calf, it burst out of the front right side of her shin and continued on though the home. The exit wound is about 4 by 5 inches, about as big of the top of my fist, and is bleeding venously. It looks like someone dumped red paint allover the floor, where it has started to clot already.

If this wasn't enough, the whole neighborhood is out to watch. They sound like a whole zoo, packed into a 100 yard area. The cops are running around everywhere, only a wink at crowd control, and We are forced to park about 50 yards back from where we should be due to improperly parked first responders.

And if that wasn't enough, my partner this evening? Why, it's old Cutsy, every one's favorite Goth wannabe. She's a real mess this evening, and I am entirely unsympathetic.

Hey, I'm kind of an asshole sometimes. I've worked pretty hard to try and help her out but it's like trying to get blood from a turnip. On the usefulness scale, she's falling somewhere in between A Monkey Fucking A Football and a Starfish.

At least If I got mad at a starfish and ripped it to shreds, it could regenerate.

Cutsy manages to drag her ass through the door. "Holy shit!" she yelps.

There are no pulses on the foot no matter how I manipulate it. I tell Cutsy to bandage it up. A ragged chunk of bone visible in the wound and NO WAY YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS Cutsy is just starring at it as I'm trying to get this patient squared away.

"Cutsy!" Nothing.


She blinks her self awake. "Huh?"

You need to turn down your fucking Cradle of Filth, you superfluous waste of genetic Material. You're going to blow out the tiny little remnant of brains you barely manage to hold on to if you don't lower the volume, you vacuous fucking mouth-breathing hell-spawn sent here to make my life miserable.

That's what I want to say.

Instead I say "Bandage the Leg."


I'll be honest, I wasn't expecting that one. She caught me flatfooted, and now here I am, staring across this old black lady who is bleeding allover the floor, trying to figure out what to say.

Finally I grab the bandage from her, wrap it, and secure it. "Like That," I say gruffly. "Go spike me some bags in the back, please." I look away from her and I can hear her start to cry as she walks outside. It bothers me for nearly a whole second before the anger boils back. How can she not know how to bandage something? She had to have seen that at least once or twice in Basic class. HAD TO. Had to pass it for national registry. All that shit should be fresh in her head.

That's how I used to know you were mad at me, Lazy Partner told me after we stopped working together. You get real polite, and you don't smile at all. That's how I used to know.

Well, I still hate Lazy Partner, and Cutsy is climbing higher on the list.

We transport the lady to the nearest hospital. I can't get a line in her at all - her veins are nonexistent, and if she passes out on me, I can drill her, but I'm betting that the ER might be able to succeed where I've failed.

"Holy shit!" Goes the ER Nurse, when I unwrap the wound. "Call the resident, now!"

"Holy shit!" goes the resident, when he sees the damage. "Call a Trauma alert, now!"

"Holy Shit! Look at the that! The Tibia and Fibula are completed shattered! You can see!" says the Trauma surgeon.

* * *

I walk out to the truck, and sit down next to Cutsy, who is not cleaning, just sitting there shell shocked. "Hey."


"Look, I know you know how to bandage someone. You had to have done it at registry, at least."

"Well, yeah," she concedes meekly. "But I didn't want to hurt her."


"Well, that was a big wound on her leg and she was already hurting. I didn't want to make it worse."

"Sometimes, that part of the fucking job, Cutsy. You need to get used to that. If it's ever just the two of us on scene, I need to know that I can count on you, hopefully as an independent EMT, but barring that, at least as someone who can follow my orders. The lady needed that leg bandaged immediately. You could see how much blood she had lost."

She starts crying again. I whip out a post it and write a phone number on it.

"Here's the number to CISM. Call them right now."

This is the extent to which I will help her.

* * *
So I show up at work the other day and who should I see as part of the off going crew?

Lazy Partner.

Only, now? She's Lazy Paramedic, here to do some ride time to clear as a paramedic in her own right.

It's going to be a long holiday season.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Take that nature!

Real Posts coming, I swear.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

- Hey Yall

Coming up - pictures of our new property in Summit, Mississippi, and of me with a chainsaw!

Ladies, prepare your panties for disintegration!


Saturday, November 15, 2008

- Headin' Up The Country

Hey ya'll, blog is going to go silent this weekend - heading up north to do some camping!

See ya Monday!

PS - I Got Tagged - Rules:Pass it on to five other bloggers, and tell them to open the nearest book to page 56. Write out the fifth sentence on that page, and also the next two to five sentences. The CLOSEST BOOK, NOT YOUR FAVORITE, OR MOST INTELLECTUAL!

Yes, Satan?
"Unit Two, go ahead," Bobby awnsers, groaning.

Life, Death, and Everything In Between: A Paramedic's Memoirs, by AD. BUY IT!

Don't have to time to spam it on!


Monday, November 10, 2008

- Confessions of A Weird Guy

I think I'm weird because I get a lot of pleasure out of these and I don't think other people do. Maybe I can get away with "Delightfully Eccentric" instead of "Full-Blown, Mouth-breathing Whacko":

1. Vacuuming - I like to vacuum the house. I don't know why. I like the way the rug looks after the vacuum runs it over. It may be the noise it makes. (others noises I like - the ambulance siren horn, the sound the phone makes when you call someone and it's ringing)

2. Driving with the window down - I'll even put on a jacket and knit cap in the winter just to drive with the window down. I like the breeze! I always get out with a smile on my big dumb face. I sleep with 2 fans going, even in the winter (yes, I have a CPAP too)

3. Folding My Clothes - I get a little excited when my laundry gets done because that means I get to fold everything! It all gets put away in its neat little box or hung up in the closet!

I know, weird, right?


Monday, November 3, 2008

- 007

Well, it was bound to happen sometime. They've finally put a new person in Izzy's spot (insert sad MM face here). It was bound to happen sooner or later - we've gotten a large hire of EMT-Bs since a class just let out.

Our company has a clearing process that new employees have to attend - 3 weeks, roughly, although the first week is purely paper and book work. That leaves the rest of the time for 5 (or 4, if they really need you bad) orientation rides and a clear ride (unless the supervisor is busy) and then the employee is considered "Cleared" - ready to operate as a normal employee.


My new partner shall be referred to as FNG.

Actually, I'm not being fair - he wants to learn. Sure, we had to go to the gas station again last night (wait? There's TWO diesel tanks to fill up?), but hey.

I'm not really much of a teacher - I'll make sure they know how to do basic stuff, like spiking a bag or attaching the heart monitor, and then as things come up in the field I instruct as I go. To me it seems to work better then me telling them fifty things at the beginning of the shift, and then expecting them to just recall everything I said.

So I'm showing FNG how to assemble a prefill syringe and of course, our first call is a cardiac arrest.

Bulldog and Stanky, working the other unit, beat us to the scene, and the fire department and they are working the patient as we walk in. I grab a tube and tell FNG to start compressions.

"Hol up, " says Bulldog. "You don't need it."

I get a good look at the patient. Dead Right There.

"Ok, you want me to call it in?"

Stanky, Bulldog's partner, is doing his last clear ride for his paramedic. "No, no, I got it." He calls it in to dispatch.

FNG has his eyes glued to the body on the floor.

"Hey, FNG."

He does not move. I poke him. He looks up at me, looks a little sick.

"Hey. Good Job."


"Put a notch in your stethoscope, buddy." Fire, Stanky and Bulldog are suppressing their giggles.


"You got a kill on your first call. Strong work. Put a notch in your stethoscope." I hand him my pocket knife.

He just stares at it. I walk out of the room, whistling a jaunty tune.

This morning, when I told him he was but a pawn in my master plan, he laughed, but when I didn't, he stopped.

I'm going to have FUN with this one.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

- Gol Damn

Just finished AD's BOOK!

Well done, and well written sir. After I got finished, I left it on the table at the station. Everyone else who's picked it up has loved it.




Tuesday, October 28, 2008

- Crossing The Line

"March, you are way too inappropriate."


"You don't have a filter. You always cross the line. You're funny but you always go overboard!"

"What? No I don't. You're crazy."

"YOU'RE CRAZY! Remember what you told me the other day? The belt sander comment?"

"C'mon. That was funny."

(She brought it on herself. My ex-partner and I were discussing winter, and leg-shaving and she had joked she was going to skip her thighs. So off goes my mouth, before I can do anything about it - "Holy shit. That's craziness. Your boy-friend is going to look like someone took a beltsander to his face!")

"Yeah, it would've been. But Bossman (our supevisor-ed.) was standing right there with the other crew!"

"They laughed. It was funny!"


I'm silent for a moment.

"Well, that's what you get for living in sin."

"Fuck you, March."
* * *

I can't help it. Maybe I've got Ausperger syndrome or some weird form of social anxiety. When people ask me about it I blame it on having a compulsion, but the truth is pretty much every time I've carefully weighed out saying it versus not saying it. It's just that saying it wins every time.

These are all from the past three days. Can you identify where I "Cross the Line "?:

Situation 1: A young, openly gay paramedic at my station is drinking a white substance

MM: What the fuck is that?
YGP: Protein Shake.
MM: Wow.
YGP: Yup.
MM: I thought you would've gotten enough of that from, you know, your lifestyle choice.

Situation 2: In my mom's convertible, on my way out to a picnic with an attractive school teacher I know.

YAT: Just want to make sure we get back later tonight. I've got laundry to do.
MM: Yup, we will. Couldn't have you going to work without clean panties.
YAT: Hahaha, I know, right? I don't want to go commando at school!
MM: Hahaha...
YAT: (smiling, enjoying the ride)
MM: I can see it know. "::sniff sniff:: Ms Smith, what smells like mayonaise and Catfood?"
YAT: ::silence::

Situation 3: Sometimes, even when I do manage to avoid saying something freaky, it comes out anyway. A Friend had just asked me who my favorite Disney Princess is.

MM: Well, Jasmine I guess. Course, she'd have to take a bath. No rubbing of oils or shit.
FRND: Cool.
MM:...course, I didn't want to freak you out.
FRND: Don't want to hear it, March.
MM: The fox chick from Disney's Robin Hood. She was HOT!


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

- MedicMarch's Baseball Mitt (Gustav: Aftermath)

I'm deep in slumber when Dee the Desk Clerk walks into our temporary bunkroom at Backwater Parish Hospital. "Um, hey, March, the nurse said to come and get you and the doctor. Some lady pulled up with, uh, a dead baby, I think."

Yeah, I woke up pretty quick.

A quick snapshot as I step out into the bay. As it turns out, no, the baby is not dead. Barely. The two nurses and ER tech are clustered around the passenger side car door. Sitting there are a mother, who looks...calm. What the hell? She's covered in blood and just self-delivered.... somewhere. No emotion really, just sitting there, blinking at the nurses. Wait a minute...half lidded eyes...slow reaction to stimulation...

Jesus. She's high.

I pop my stretcher out from my unit, conveniently parked 15 feet away, and together Bossman, who's shown up from God Knows Where, and I physically lift mom and baby out of the car and wheel them in. The baby had been wrapped up in a comforter and is cyanotic, but I hear a weak cry. We pull mom across, and Doctor Dickhead walks in.

Normally, this is where I give you an extensive list of why I've bestowed this nickname on this individual, but here it's unnecessary. The name's got it all. He's a dickhead.

We get the cord cut and I get an IV in mom. There was blood everywhere on the car's seat. There's going to be hefty cleaning and detailing bill that medicaid is not going to cover. I walk into the other room, where baby is getting warmed up under a heating lamp. Dick is hunched over the patient.

"What's he doing?"

"Trying to sink an ET Tube," stage whispers BossMan. "I guess stimulation and blowby aren't in his playbook."

BossMan has already been given specific instructions not to argue with Doctor Dickhead from our higher ups. I guess he sees my lip twist in disgust and before I can talk he pushes me with his elbow. "Go Help with Mom."

I glare at him. As I was taught when it comes to neonatal resuscitation you follow a kind of inverse pyramid. A lot of times kids just need a vigorous rubdown (don't go all British Nanny, but get the job done) and some blowby O2. If that's not working, Bag 'em, and then so on down the pyramid till you get to cardiac drugs and electricity.

Well, fuck it. I'm not a doctor. Maybe he's doing something I'm not trained on or don't know. I walk out to the lobby where the driver of the car is waiting nervously.

"We're working on mom and baby right now. What happened?"

"Well, the power is still out over at their house, and I was sleeping in the other room. She was crying out that she delivered into the toilet. She thought she just had to go to the bathroom."

"Does she take any medicines?"

"Well..." She looks at me guiltily. "She gets bad anxiety and takes Xanax. She takes the boyfriend's medicine. He ripped his knee up and takes, um, vicodins, I think. She smokes weed too. She's not due for another month!"

I nod and thank her.

Back in the ER lab has come back with the screen results. ER Nurse 1 holds up the results. "You wanna guess?"

I hold a hand up to my forehead and shut my eyes in intent concentration.

"Opiates, benzos, and marijuana?"

"Ooh, not bad, you forgot barbiturates!"

"Well, I cheated and asked the family or friend or whatever outside. How's she doing?"

"She's pretty spaced." The phone rings, and ER Nurse 1 picks it up. It's the local NICU, telling her they're sending a team to grab the baby.

"Well, at least she's not hurting." I look through the observation window. Mom is passed out in the bed, even snoring delicately. Zonked.

I'm pretty worried about what could be floating around in the baby's lungs. Born in distress, mom's high as a kite, delivered into a toilet? Ick.

The neonatal team arrives in short order, and get the baby packed up. Doc was unable to get a tube in place, and they put the baby inside the plastic box, and head for the hospital. We're going to be getting off late, but I volunteer to bring mom over to the other hospital.

We transfer care and we go up to visit the baby. After some suctioning the baby has cleared up considerably. She's sitting under the fry light, getting her tan. I touch her foot lightly, and she opens her mouth for a second before closing it again.

"Happy birthday..." I say, and walk out to my unit.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

- The Hot Seat

OK, so my Welfare Sterilization Incentive post ("Get Smart") from a few posts back is getting interesting. You can click on that link to read the original story, my post, and the comments. I'm made a new thread to respond to everyone's comments.

Annie: While I definitely agree with you - having kids you can't afford is a stressor on the system - I disagree with out and out mandatory permanent sterilization. What if the $1000 (permanent sterilization) offer was kept on the table with no strings attached and the rules were changed to mandatory Depo shots or something like that necessary so that for those who are using this as a stopgap measure aren't permanently sterilized because they needed help (ie, Tony's situation).

Bernice: Good idea. We'd save on the tax breaks those potential children would be providing, as well. More money would stay in the system to go to other stuff. But I think the incentive should remain in place for those on welfare, and we could make it free for everyone else. What do you think?

: What if it was simply free with no incentive? Also I've asked around - it seems they are reluctant to sterilize someone with no kids (on the idea you might change your mind later) - I don't believe you have any. Would you still go for the procedure?

Elizabeth Bryant Alexander: I agree. There seems to be a lot of support for this from the people who work in public services and health care. Even if that's $400/year for each person on that, if it keeps the individual from having one kid they cannot support, it pays for itself.

ChuckR44 - from what I can determine in my state you lose your medicaid if you test positive for drugs - but no one really does any testing (most of the time it's in the ER - the doc can contact the state about yanking the person's medicaid, but nothing comes of it)!

NewGradNurse: I'm not suggesting we go all the way and make it so that you are permanently sterilized while on public assistance. What do you think about temporary sterilization?

And where does race play into the picture? No one has made this a racial issue or mentioned race (georgeh said I might be called racist, but that's it)

Bianca: Thank you for commenting. I may be making some awful deductions, but I'm interested in hearing what you think about the proposal :)

Alright! Fuel on the Fire! Thanks to everyone for participating!


Saturday, October 4, 2008

- He Doesn't Look Too Hot

Sometimes I can tell just by looking that we're going to have a rough call.

We pull up next to a cane field. A man lies crumpled at the edge of the field.

"Shit. He doesn't look too hot," I say as I get out.

One of the fire fighters yells at me that the guy's having trouble breathing.

"OK," I yell back. "Let me grab my bag!"

As I open the side door I hear a curse. "HE STOPPED BREATHING!"

"OK." I hop the ditch with my bag and run over to the guy. AS stated, he is not breathing. I reach down to check for a pulse.


"He's a code. Start CPR, Let's get him loaded up."

We are only one mile away from the hospital and I'm thinking he would benefit more with me transporting than if I worked him here in the mud and sun. As they load him into the back I slap on the pads. The guy is already in PEA. We get him to the hospital in exactly one minute. I'm not getting good compliance with the bag and as we hit the brakes I quickly try to tube but the guy's incredibly anterior. I can't get it and we wheel him in. It's only been 3 minutes since I pasted the pads to his chest but he is already asystole.

They quickly IV him and push round after round of drugs, but to no avail. 20 minutes after we've gotten the call the man is dead on the table.

He is an immigrant into this country, working illegally, and through a translator we learn his family is all back in Mexico. There is no one to come and take responsibility for the body.

Later I get his medical record bounced back to me for not providing a social security number or address with his billing information. I fight with the billing department for three days before they have me contact my supervisor to write off the call.


EDIT: Please welcome PARACYINC and VOODOO MEDICINE MAN to the Blogroll!

Friday, September 26, 2008

- Get Smart

Ok, at the risk of starting a political firestorm from all 2 people who read this (Thanks, Chris and Bernice!) I wanted to tell you guys about something I saw on the news the other day - A representative, John LaBruzzo (R-Metarie), is toting an idea that would pay individuals below the poverty line 1,000 dollars to get sterilized. I don't usually get into politics on my blog (it's a personal matter) but I wanted to hear what you all had to say, especially people that work on the emergency side of the healthcare field.

Tentatively I'd say we need to include sterilization for males and females, and put a cap on the age (no reason to sterilize a 60 y/o woman). I know it's not just going to cost just the payout of 1,000 dollars (you have to pay the doctor, the hospital, etc) but I'm under the impression that vasectomies and tubal litigation's aren't that rough, so does anyone know the average cost for a sterilization procedure?

I believe this would save us taxpayers a lot of money in the long run. Am I wrong? Am I right? What do you think?

Also, please note the new poll off to the right - I'm going to go one a medical Mission for a month or two next year (through Institute For Field Research Expeditions) and am taking suggestions on destinations


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

- Compelete and Total Humiliation

So whenever I got myself cleaned up last year something I started doing was running 2 miles every day. I actually dropped about 20 pounds over the course of 7 weeks. It felt pretty good but once I came back down and started back to work I slacked off - 10 hours a day, 5 days a week ambulance shifts wore me down pretty well. I had joined up with at a Snap Fitness before I moved to my new house 3 weeks ago and haven't made the time yet to rejoin somewhere yet - but when I was a member I did go - sometimes even at 3 in the morning, if you'll believe that.

I've was watching the Olympics during the triathlon - it looked rough, but I said - man, I could do that. I could DO THAT.

So As it happens they're having a triathlon at the end of October.


That means I've got about 5 weeks to get in shape for a 400m Swim, a 9 mile bike ride, and a 3 mile run.

I'm pretty sure I can run it out of sheer tenacity and cussed-ness, but I still need to do a little prep work, otherwise I'm going to cramp out. So at the end of the week it's back into the gym. I've got great legs and used to be on the swim team, so I'm not going to sweat the swim much and put sometime in on the bike. I need to be able to run at least 4 miles on the treadmill before I enter so it's going to take some ass-busting.

I'm sitting with Izzy one day. "Oh, wow. A triathlon? I was training for one of those once."

"Really? How was it?

"Oh, March, it's not fun. I didn't smile once the whole time."

"Fuck. Thanks for those words of support."


Monday, September 22, 2008

- Gustav, II

It's the day Gustav hit. I've gotten to the hospital with Nurse 1 and 2 and thrown on a pair of scrubs to help out - technically I'm an employee of the hospital as an ER Tech although I've never been placed on the schedule. There's water everywhere; part of the roof of the hospital blew out. A team of Evac paramedics from New York and Boston (never seen a guy wearing a Yankees cap and a guy wearing a Red Sox cap work together that well) evacuate the hospital so all that's left are ER staff, my self, and our two Backwater crews, the guys ahead of me on the shift. I hit the wall around midnight, and pass out in the back of the ER. They have the AC on the generator, and when I sleep it is dreamless.

I awake the next morning to relieve the crew from the night before after showering by flashlight in the staff lockers.

We pretty much get our asses hammered. That's what was expected though - I've got a bag full of beef jerky, and I'm ready to go. Later Bossman swings by.

"How Long? For the station?"

"Well, right now, 6 weeks. I'd say two months. The electronics are all fried, the furniture is a write off. The appliances are a write off. Roof is trashed."

He looks emotionally and physically drained. It's not until later that I learn his house had gotten torn up and he had been up for about 48 hours at headquarters, getting us temporary housing and grub lined up.

* * *

They just turned the power back on at our station (where we've erected temporary housing - we're Trailer Trash Paramedics!) yesterday. The infrastructure is pretty trashed but they're making a lot of progress. We ran off generator power for 3 weeks - I feel like a man when I do things like operate giant pieces of equipment and refuel them. Local ER still is open but since the evacuation they have not admitted a patient. Everything's been shipping out to SmokeStack City. We've been burning through a whole tank of diesel every shift, sometimes twice.

What I'd really like to see at the end of this is a bonus on our checks when FEMA shells out. A token of the Company's appreciation - I know it's impractical, but sometimes, you need something a little more tangible then a pat on the back and a "Get your Ass back in the cab, we've got more calls for you."

Hey, I can dream.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

- Gustav, pt I

There is shit everywhere on the floor. If I was a betting man, I would bet that in the end it's going to be cheaper to rip out the carpet and lay down some more than to try to shop-vac the poop out of here. I don't know much about home restoration but based on the glimpses I've seen on the Home and Garden channel these guys are BONED.

Then the smell hits, and WOW. Even those jackasses from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition might have to chalk this one up to the game. It almost becomes necessary to wade through it physically as we approach the bathroom in the back of the patient's little assisted living apartment.

Our patient is sitting down in his closet size shower, looking deflated (I mean, considering the amount of shit smeared around on the carpet out side, he'd almost have to be). He glares at us as an eel might glare at an invading fish. "we can't get him to get up or do anything. He says he just wants to lay there. We washed him and he just wouldn't get out of the shower." Well, at least he's not smeared in shit...anymore.

I'm working with Cutsy today, a new EMT with a myriad of self inflicted cuts to the insides of her arms. She did her first ride time with me. She does not handle criticism. Period. She can't even take coaching. We were in a Wendy's earlier that day and she just broke down and started crying when I was telling her about how I like to run my calls - I do patient interview, you get a manual BP, hook up the EKG, pulse ox, and tell me if the numbers are out of whack. I use a standardized approach. I had already taken care to use a gentle tone of voice, trying to make it obvious that she wasn't in trouble, I was just giving her some information to help, and GUSH - sobbing in the middle of Wendy's, standing between me and my bag of food on the counter.

I guess I could've been a little more supportive than throwing up my hands, stepping past her, and walking out of there with my cheeseburgers, but hey. Whatever.

I mean, Jesus. We were at Wendy's.

Taking hold of his shoulders (and sticking Cutsy on the business end - hey, Rank Hath Its Privilege) we throw him on the stretcher. I recognize the sudden bulge on his cheeks. "Fuck, he's gonna puke." I scuttle sideways and use a trick I picked up from one of the LifeFlight medics - I grab a biohaz bag from the back of the stretcher and make him a puke bib. He's starting to go out on me, I think, so we rush him to the hospital. My 12 lead is negative, but his heart rate drops into the 50's and I cannot believe this guy has anything left anywhere in his digestive system. I manage to push some fluid in and we drop him off.

I come back out to find Cutsy crying in the module. The module has not been cleaned. The stretcher is dirty. He face is in her hands.

"What? What is it?"

"I got puke in my hairrrr! Wwuhhhh! (I can't accurately reproduce her keening wail in text, so just imagine you fed a whale a bunch of helium and sped up it's bellow, and that's kind of what I was dealing with.)

I shake my head and walk to the cab.

* * *

The wind is really starting to pick up. We've just run our 4th evac transfer. They've put together a large evac shelter down in my part of Backwater, in a deserted store. I'm in the back, rerolling my EKG wires, when we get a page. "Wind speeds unsafe for operation". OK. Back Home we go.

We swing by the ER and I'm talking to a couple of the ER nurses. I tell them I'll probably end up crashing at the station, because I have to drive 20 miles home through Gustav just to come back to work the next day. "Well, shit, March, come stay with us at my house."

I raise my eyebrow. Both of these nurses are very attractive, recently divorced, well proportioned, and you know, they're ER nurses - kinky!

They must see the look on my face cause they start laughing. "Easy, March, I've got 3 bedrooms. We're not going to have to shack up."

"Oh, I know, but man, this is going to be so awesome for my blog."

* * *
Of course, dispatch doesn't care that we're not supposed to be running, and after my second argument with the dispatcher we find ourselves in the middle of a rainband, the unit getting tossed around pretty solid. But nothing bad happens, and I pack up at the end of my shift, and go home with ER Nurse 1 and ER Nurse 2.

The power goes out at house at 10 O'Clock in the morning. We can't sleep in the house so we're sitting together in the living room and I pick up a newspaper. There, on the coffee table, are not one but TWO of those "Love Positions" books (you know with the pictures, and diagrams? Yeah. Sexy!) and a book entitled "Tickle Your Kitty" - a guide for the ladies to, you know...yeah.


I raise my eyebrows and hold up all three. Nurse 1 blushes heavily. "Look, I got those at a fun party."

"Fun Party? What the fuck is a fun party?" I believe I actually might have heard of this before, but I'm a dirty pervert, so I press for answers.

"It's like when a bunch of girls get together with wine and stuff -and one of them is a sales person and has like books, creams and oils, shit like that. Fake Wieners. Girl stuff. And she tells you about them, and shit."

"Holy shit. Basically it's like 8 drunk girls and a literal bag of dicks? This has AMAZING marketing potential."

"Uh-uh, hotshot. No boys allowed. And uh, actually, it was a giant Rubbermaid full of dildos, not a bag....uh, are you ok?"

"Sweet Jesus!" I say, tearing up a little. " A giant box of latex dongs, a barrel full of drunk girls, and a whole evening to test the''s BEAUTIFUL."

"Dude, March. You're freaking me out. "

* * *

We sweat our asses off for a little while longer and it's time for the Nurses to go back to work, so I put some scrubs on and tag along. Backwater is trashed. I did not think that there would be this much damage. Hundreds of feet of line are down, debris is everywhere. As we pull past the station I cannot believe my eyes. It's totally trashed - it looks like Godzilla put his foot through the roof. The carport is in the driveway. Inside it's a mess - rain water is everywhere. The station is totaled.

I shake my fist at the clouds. "Gustav, you motherfucker!"


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

- Patience is a virtue, and besides....

....laziness is comfortable.

Blog Posts currently in my "Drafts" heading:

-Gustav, pt 1
-Gustav, pt 2
-Gustav - Aftermath
-Softball Face
-He Doesn't Look Too Hot
- The Tempest

I swear I'll come out with at least one by the end of today.


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

- Gustav, you Mother Fucker.

I made it through the storm ok, everyone.

Unfortunetly, our station was not so lucky. Our whole carport came undone and smashed into the rest of the station....

...estimates are 3 weeks to 2 months for repairs.

Go back in tomorrow and get some more. This isn't over, not by a long shot. I'll post my hurricane story in a moment.


Saturday, August 30, 2008

- Please Stand By

Hey guys, going off the air for a moment while Hurricane Overtime chugs its way over here. Wish my ass luck! And to all my broskis down here, see you in the field!


EDIT - If you guys check out AD I'm sure you saw his VP Palin post. Anyway, check this out, from

I mean, c'mon, was anybody really surprised that an old, ailing, white man picked some young foxy thing to stay at his big mansion? Really?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

- A Love Song for Izz

First off, a bit of blog maintainin'-cleared some deadwood from the links column that were no longer active or deleted (relax, AD, you're still number one, on my blog and in my heart).

I haven't really posted about my new partner, Izzy - afraid I'd jinx myself, and they'd stick me with some mouth-breather with no sense of humor or personal hygiene. All good things come to an end, however, and she's leaving me anyway, to go back to finish school.

It's been an unusual experience for me, not having to worry about WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING doing while I'm trying to provide patient care. I know that sounds pretty stuck-up and egotistical, maybe even para-godish, if you will-that I can't trust someone else to function without micromanaging them- but I've seemed to have been paired with a string of idiots who barely know their way around a stethoscope and apparently think that the best way to operate the ambulance is to hit every pothole on the way to the hospital. I thought maybe, after one particular string of stupid, that maybe my standards were too high or that I expected too much from someone barely making 10.00/hr. I consider myself a patient person, and after crappy partner #3 resolved I needed to take more of a coaching approach. Cause, maybe it is possible I'm overly hard to please.

Then I got Izzy.

I was worried initially, because she was BRAND NEW to the company and to EMS in general. I had formulated plans based on my past experience of what we were going to work on. Imagine my sup rise when she showed up on the first day on time and knocked out her inventory, and then came to me what we needed and we were missing. I know that sounds like, Hey March, the only reason you like it is because she's stroking your ego, but I mean, shit. Us not having a stair chair is shit that I need to know, son.

Let me Tell you:

She drives like magic - unless it's 4 AM and we've been getting our asses kicked, then she can be a little rough, but shit, so am I -

She does her inventory.

She learns from call to call and anticipates what I'm going to ask for. Or, when I give a string of orders, does them quickly and efficiently.

She bought me lunch a couple of times.

She has no fear or hesitation - if I ask her to stick her hand in something gross, or do something that involves nastiness, she ovaries up and fucking handles it. No pause, no bullshit. I know I can count on her to handle her bidness when the shit hits the fan.

She asks questions.

She has a sense of humor.

She's not afraid to call me on my shit.

She can actually lift (she's maybe 5'7 or '8 and weighs like 115? If that much? She's tough!).

She handles all the mundane shit most people don't think about when they get into EMS - station duties, washing the truck, etc - with the same enthusiasm of running an emergency call.

I think that last one says it all - that's the hurdle, I think, for a lot of new employees - when they realize it ain't all cardiac arrests and catching babies, that 90 percent of our call volume is routine bullshit. That we have to wash and clean and be maids in addition to being lifesavers and heartbreakers.

Yeah, it doesn't hurt that she can handle her beer like a pro, either.

But, like I said, all good things come to an end. So tomorrow when I show up to work, she will be reporting to class. As I'm tucking in a dialysis patient, she will be studying the microbiology of organisms. As I run a code she will be running from one class to the next. As I return from yet another BS call she will be doing homework.

So Izzy, my hat's off to you. It's been an incredible two months and I wish you luck in your future endeavors. You've restored my faith in new people to the company, and you've taught me a lot about myself. I'm going to miss you.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

- The Intoxicated Avenger

wThe sun shines down in Backwater Parish as Dirty D and I hop into the unit. Quick behind us are the other crew at our station - we've gotten two calls at the same place, which to me says that they're probably the same call, but hey, what do I know?

Sure enough, as we pull up to the Public Services building, I see a deputy wave to us, and then give the other truck a confused look. "Why they here?"

"We got two calls. Just one patient, right?"

"Ayuh." (This deputy is a transplant to Backwater Parish from one of the Great Lakes states) "Seems this young man in there had a bit too much too drink today....and, you know, every day this week before today. Seems he's making his inspection on the PS Building today and decided this would be a good place to take a nap. "

"Well, shit. Ight."

We drag our gear into the building, wear a ring of public servants are gathered around, eyeing our patient. It looks like FD has already spinaled him, and there he lies in all his glory, babbling obscenities. When I kneel down next to him, he tries to swing at me. Luckily he's neglected to remember his arm has been placed in between the top and bottom of the the spineboard strap , and actually end up losing control of his arm and punching himself on his chest. His arm then flops back down, and I make the mistake of getting within a three foot radius of his mouth. His breath is...tough. I mean, I've smelt some rough stuff in my time, but this guy could probably contract his halitosis to the Department of Defense. I can't imagine a prisoner at Guantanamo would be able to stand to more then 30 or 45 seconds of direct exposure before succumbing and telling us where Osama really is (oh man, just now I typed Obama instead of Osama. Wow. That could've raised some hell).

The answers all of my inquires with obscenities. He's about as drunk as I've seen someone be and still be conscious. I know long term alcoholics can usually tolerate pretty high Blood Alcohol levels, and I'm almost sure the will have a pool running after they draw labs at the ER.

We load him up. He's not going to like this IV much, and I ask Dirty to hold the patient's arm while I mess with it. I thread a 16 into the guy's hand (honestly, I could've started this IV with an Ink Pen if I had needed too - it always blows my mind that the hardworking mother-of-three, member-of-the-Ladies' Aux, productive member of society, who just got T-boned by some drunken jackass and can't hold a pressure, will have tiny, rolling veins, and that the other other driver who will be fine except for being drunk, will have pipes. Sometimes it's not fair) and do a quick blood draw. This is when it happens.

Apparently Dirty had undone the top strap when I asked him to hold the guys arm. Drunky realizes he's got mobility again, reaches across his body, and takes another swing at me. I see it coming out of the corner of my eye and manage to take it on my shoulder instead of my face. The cop reaches in and, pretty forcefully, drags the guys arm back down. Luckily I've managed to hold onto my IV, and finish taping it down. Time to go. I do not want to have fisticuffs with Drunky.

Dirty gets us to the hospital pretty fast, and after calling a report I try to get some information from the guy. He responds only with curses and petty vulgarities, which I will not sully my blog with (yeah, right.).

We wheel him into the ER and the Charge Nurse comes over to me. "What's his name?"


"Heh, yeah, I know, right? No, really what's his name?"

"I'm serious, he told me his name is Motherfucker. Ask him."

"Sir, what's your name?"

The man eyes her speculatively, then back at me. He lets out a small belch.

"My name ish...motherfucker!"

Impressed by his own rapier like wit, he dissolves into cackles.

"Allright, I'll get the rest from you," Charge says. "Hmm. What's his DOB?"

"He said it was the 1st of Bitch, Nineteen-Sixty-Fuck-You. And before you ask, his social is Kill Whitey."

Charge nurse looks at him dubiously. "What's that smell?"

"A new weapon for the War on Terror. "


Saturday, July 26, 2008

- Down Time

OK, I know I bitch a lot, but one of the things I do like about EMS is that off-duty, we know how to have a good time. No where else really comes to mind when I try to think of where the amount of drinking I do is not only socially acceptable, it's encouraged! ( I guess it's actually not that good of thing, but shit, most of you guys are too drunk by this point to even remember that you originally logged on to check out porn and not my blog).

Going through rehab made me really take a look at the amount of alcohol I was consuming. But whilst I know I'm a drug addict, I really don't think I'm an alcoholic. Granted, those in the program (and all you bastard tee-totalers) might beg to differ, but I don't care, because by this point I'm too drunk to remember that I logged on to check out porn and not post a blog entry.

Look, there's some seriously rowdy language in here, so if you don't like that kind of thing, it's a good idea to go somewhere else.

So without further ado, I give you:

Down Time.

AC/DC is cranked, and the window on J-Lo's truck is rolled down halfway, pushing a fresh breeze into my face. We are rolling into New Orleans on 10, the sun is out, and a plane is taking off from the airport. Our hotel room is going to be right off Bourbon Street. He gives me a big ole smile. "This isn't going to end well," he says. "I know it."

Arrival and check-in is arduous. I realize our hotel is very highend - luckily it's J-Lo's sister's B-Day, and his mom is picking up the tab for the hotel rooms. I step out onto our balcony. Intelligently, J-Lo's mom had saved a bunch of the nicer beads from Mardi Gras. It is getting to be 5 o'clock, and as J-Lo and I crack our beers and toast. I watch as a nice looking young woman jiggles down the street and disappears into the cabaret across from us. Inspiration strikes me.

"Hey J, let's play a game."

"What? What game? We're drinking, I don't have time for this."

"No, c'mon, you'll dig it."

"Fuck. What is it, March?"

"We're going to have an exciting round of....'Walking, or Working.'"

"You're not nice."


"I'm not going to degrade women like that, March. You're a chauvinist ass."

"Oh, when did you trade your testicles in for that purse? C'mon. C'MONNNNNNNNNN. Do it!"

"I hate you."

A moment passes by. Then J-Lo points to one. "Working."

The lady is decked out in skintight leather pants, a corset, heels, and a yellow boa. She disappears into the door of the cabaret next to the other cabaret. "Drink!"

I glug at my beer. "Oh, like that was a hard one, you jackass."

"Fine," he says, eyeing another woman speculatively. She's a cute redhead (Rrrrow! Me likey redheads!), but is conservatively attired in shorts and a blouse. "Working."

"What, her? No way. No wayyyyyyyyy."

"Working, I'm telling you."

"Dude, no. The one in the leather? Totally. There's no way this one is. Walking."

The girl enters the door to the first cabaret.

"No way."


"No! This is a setup!"

J-Lo is suddenly enraged. "Drink, you dirty fucker! Do it! You, sir, are a bastard and a limp-dicked tittyfucker if you do not drink right now!"

I wither under his outburst. "Granted, you miserable pile of festering dogshit, I am actually a bastard, but I'll be DAMNED if I'm a tittyfucker. I concede, sir, and drink." I tilt back my beer, and empty it.

And with that, we finish our first beers. This is not going to end well.

We are down a 6 pack an hour later as we head downstairs and pass a group of formally attired older ladies. They are clustered together with champagne glasses. It looks like an advertisement for how much fun you can still have if you take Medication X to jack with your hormones because you don't get your monthly cycle anymore. "Working!" I yell in their direction as we walk out. They look less than amused.

We meet up with Chris and Kay, J-Lo's cousin and fiancee, and start out at a Fahy's, an Irish pub. The beer selection is incredible and the prices are awesome. The barmaid has truly righteous cleavage displayed, and a dog is chilling near the door. It is good times. We down several adult beverages and laugh and joke.

We walk down to Bourbon. Even though the sun is set, it only cools off about 2 degrees. Welcome to New Orleans.

We sneak into a bar advertising 3-for-1. There is karaoke going on and we watch as people make asses of themselves. We all vow we will not get on stage and make asses of ourselves.

Two hours later, after several shots and beers, the karaoke announcer, who I now am making wedding plans with in my head, calls for the three hottest girls in the club to come and shake their stuff. Two run up immediately, one of them running into Kay and spilling her beer. They jiggle up onto stage.

Kay looks down at her spilled beer, and back up at the stage. I think, maybe, at this point, if we has said "Fuck it", paid our tab and gone home to bed, we would've been OK. But hell, that wouldn't have been any fun. J-Lo, Chris, and I are pretty good. I don't claim to be a power drinker, but I am a stamina drinker, and the speed at which we've been putting them back has left feeling an inch past buzzed. I am determined not to give in, because Chris has just the teeniest slur, and Jeff is having slight balance problems. Not bad enough for drunk yet.

Kay, on the other hand, has been keeping pace with us, despite the fact that we all outweigh her by at least 90 pounds. Kay's good, but over the past twenty minutes, she's been declining. And she suddenly realizes that she is not going to take having her beer spilt by some clap-infested two bit skank. I know that because those were her last words as she pounded up the stairs to the stage. And now we are caught in the grasp of the black hole, and are heading irrecoverably towards the Event Horizon.

Dance off! Yells the karaoke goddess.

The first girl begins her dance, and is quickly obvious she's done this before, probably for money. J-Lo and I look at each other and immediately yell "WORKING!" as she struts her stuff. Being on the front row, I get a healthy view of her business. Purely from a medical standpoint, I'm just going to say, she was in danger of catching a cold. She finishes up, and the second dancer begins. I think she works at the same place as her friend, and apparently they follow the same fashion advice when it comes to panty wearing. I am happy to report, however, that the carpet did indeed match the drapes.

Kay has watched these two dance, and now it is her turn. She mouths "Silly bitches. Move!" and takes the stage.

I'm not really sure what happened next, but suffice to say that when Kay is drunk she has the ability to channel the top 5 erotic dancers in history, all at the same time.

When she gets done, they line the three girls up side by side. The applause for the first two girls is loud, but when they get to Kay, the house goes RABID. She is the clear and obvious winner. She steps down from the stage, grabs Chris' beer, and takes a fierce swig. Chris is goggling at her with raised eyebrows and a surprised expression on his face.

"What?!" yells Kay. "Bitch spilt muh beer! What was I sposed ta do?"


Well, almost awesome, because next, the Karaoke Hostess yells, "Guys, your turn!"

I'm having a good time until I realize that J-Lo, Chris, and Kay are all looking at me expectantly.

I stare back at them. "No."

"Yes!" They all say.

"No, no no. No."

"YES!" They say more forcibly.

As we have established, I'm not the most...attractive male specimen in the human race. While God didn't see fit to bless me with looks, smarts, or charm, he did not skimp when it came to the body hair, and my belly is the victim of an ongoing romance with cheezeburgers.

But goddamit, this is America. I swig my drink one last time, step up on stage, and eye the jacked, muscular competition. #1, who I will refer to as Bronx Bombshell, introduces himself, saying he is from New York. #2, Tall and Tanned, introduces himself as "Professor Love" and I have to change his name to Tall, Tanned, and Australian, because his accent makes the girls scream. #3, I will refer to as Kenmore on account of his washboard abs, states he is from Cali. And then, when Karaoke Goddess, love of my life, gets to me, her eyebrows knit in confusion. I do not belong up here. Maybe I'm the butler for one of these other guys or something, or maybe some poor disfigured sot who is Making his Wish that he come to Bourbon Street and see Larry Flint's Hustler Club before he dies of Terminal Ugly.

Regardless, when I don't step off the stage, she gently thrusts the microphone my way and manages not to vomit upon looking at my face. "Uh, I'm March, from Louisiana. Woo!"

There is scattered applause, and more laughter. The format is different for the Men. We will all dance simultaneously. The music begins, and suddenly, I am motivated. I dance like I never have danced before. I get a Lucky break when Bronx topples over a railing, but TT and A and Kenmore are dazzling the ladies with their flat stomachs, and I am flagging behind in the competition, fading into obscurity.

Unbeknowst to them, I too, can dazzle with my stomach. I tromp to the center of the stage, and lift my shirt. There are gasps of horror as everyone views my hairy and pale fish belly.

Until I bust out my secret weapon. In front of everyone at the bar, America, and God, I use my go to move - The Truffle Shuffle. I nearly black out, I Truffle Shuffle so hard.

When I come to again, it is voting time. Tall, Tanned, and Australian gets moderate cheering. Kenmore gets more rowdiness and catcalls. But when it comes to March?

The house comes down when the Hostess points to me. There is cheering everywhere. The Hostess gives me light peck on the cheek and whispers "Good job. Please, get the hell off the stage!" seductively into my ear.

I walk off the stage, victorious, and sip my beer.

A girl walks up to me. "That was hottt. Where ya'll from?" Her accent is so thick that I'm pretty sure I get a complimentary 3-pak of Skoal just for listening to it.

"Louisiana, hot stuff. What say you and me get a drank?"

She complies.

I could go on from here, and tell you about me getting kicked out of the Hustler Club (don't ask the strippers if they take rolls of coins) or ditching Miss Assippi (peein' your pants doesn't do much for the hotness, ladies), but instead I'm content to let the story fade into obscurity here, my steam successfully blown off and in the company of good friends. All in all, a good night, well played.

Oh yeah, when we got back to the hotel room balcony and started tossing beads, I got to see BOOBIES!!!!!!!!!!!


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

- Douchebag ho!

Let me preface this with the following - 95% of the RTs I know are about awesome at thier jobs. A lot of time I'd rather have a solid RT at my back as opposed to some of the ER Docs I've seen...understand, this RT I discuss is NOT one of you.

It's another day in Backwater Parish and I am cleaning my pocket knife. Just as I dab a tiny bit of oil onto it the phone rings. It is Terminally Anxious Dispatcher.

"You're not going to like me," she says. Fuck. This is going to be retarded.

"We got a call at MRSA Manor for a breathing problem...looks like it's in the vent wing."

"They're already at the gold standard of care for the patient!"

"I know, I know. I told you you weren't going to like me."

We make the drive over as we get notes. I tilt the MDT toward myself, and sigh in disgust at the display:


Wow. Sure, the patient may be having breaths in-between the mechanical respiration, but hell, you just turn the fucking knob to SIMV instead of A/C, right? Problem solved. We get called out to the vent farm at MRSA Manor pretty often. I'm not sure if being incompetent is a prerequisite for getting hired, but I'm almost positive that at some point Satan is involved.

We bring all our gear in and walk to the back. We are stopped by the RT at the patent's door. The RT's at MRSA manor are usually at least baseline competent...except for this one. She's infamous in Backwater Parish, but I've yet to tangle with her.

"She gon need a treatment and they cleaning her," she yelps in a shrill, annoying tome. My ear bleeds a little. "She messed herself!"

She takes a closer look at our stretcher. "Where ya'll vent at? The patient gotta go out on a vent!"

We have this problem at MRSA Manor a lot. They don't understand that taking the time to set up our vent, connect the patient to it, let the patient have the recommended time to get adjusted, transfer them over to our stretcher and then take them the short distance to the hospital takes about 10 to 15 minutes minutes longer than it does for me to hook my BVM to oxygen and ETC02 and leave. By the time I get done setting it all up the patient would already be in the ER, on the other vent.

"We're going to bag her."

She blinks, then repeats, in EXACTLY the same tone and rhythm as before, "The patient gotta go out on a vent!"

A headache is beginning to crystallize. "No, she doesn't. We're going to bag her. It's a lot faster. If she's sick, it's the best way to get out quick."

She does not flinch, but rather leads us into the room. There is water all over the floor from a leaky air conditioner, and two tired looking CNAs are eyeing the RT dubiously. She points to the patient.

"See, she's on a vent. The patient gotta go-."

"I know she's on a vent. I see the vent. The big, loud vent, that is beeping."

"It always beep!"

The RT leaves. I get vitals. The patient is satting ok, but the lungs sound like someone just dumped a few gallons of Steen's Syrup (shit, I guess that would be Ms. Butterworth or something, for all you Yankees) into the trach just before we got there. The patient sats are in the upper 80's.

My partner finishes making preparations as I review the paperwork and call the hospital to tell them to get ready. Apparently, at some point, the RT comes back in to give the patient her breathing treatment, because when I look up again the patient's pulse ox reads less than 50. Silent terror makes her eyes bug as her lips begin to turn ever so slightly partner doesn't even talk, just hands me the BVM she has just connected the ETCO2 to. I cinch it down onto the trach and bag.

The ETCO2 reads 79.

The RT looks up. "What you doin'!? I'm about to give them a treatment!"


My monitor is still reading a sat of fifty-ish. The RT goggles at me, then at the monitor, then back at me. She opens her mouth, and the biggest chunk of stupid I've heard so far this day clunks out into our world: "Your machine WRONG."

To my credit, I do not hand over the bagging to my partner and cudgel the RT to death with the oxygen tank. I just give her enough rope to hang herself.

"Hook her up to your machine."

"You machine is wr-!"


She stares at me sullenly, and grabs her portable sp02 out of her labcoat, putting it on the patient.

It does not even pick up.

"Let's go." I began to wheel out of the room, and brush past the RT, who stands there glaring at us. With some good ventilations from the BVM her sats rise instantly and the CO2 drops to a lower level of 58...not the best, but good enough for now.

5 minutes later I am at the hospital, and the patient is on their vent.

Keepbreathing, where the hell are you when I need you?


PS - I know I've all this serious bullshit up here lately, so I promise my next post will be the tale of my misadventures out in New Orleans last weekend. Ok? Is that ok? OK.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

- Arrest

We're minding our own business, getting off what seems to be one of the infinite number of transfers they have in this area, when they page us out to Redneck Central for a code.

We give a whoop of joy, and head off to the scene.

I've talked about that excitement with my aunt, who's a NICU nurse in North Carolina. I think from an outsider's perspective, it's ghoulish, This rush of endorphins and adrenaline the fuels my rebel yell, that lights my senses. Really, I'm not sure I can compare it to anything I've ever experienced in drug-free living. Maybe the excitement of finally asking a crush out and them saying yes, or that gut wrenching surge when you're sure that someone is standing on the other side of the shower curtain, only multiplied by 1000.

I have an addictive personality. They told me when I left treatment to watch out for the emotional highs and lows of the job. It was the consensus of some of the staff that I not go back to this gig at all, that it would be too dangerous and might cause me to relapse. I think the people at the place I went to knew what they were doing, for the most part.

It would be to their dismay that I don't agree with them.

But excitement turns to frost in my veins as we hear the fire department, two minutes ahead, radio back to us : "Advise unit XX patient is 7 month old, repeat 7 months old, hurry it up guys, he don't look too hot!"

One thing most medics know is that paradox Red and I have suddenly entered. when you know you're going fast, too fast, but it feels like you're driving that crawler that moves the space shuttle in position, barely creeping along.

We arrive on scene to find the fire department carrying the kid out to me. I can see the kid's limbs sticking out roughly, ramrod straight, it seems, from his car seat. I have barely had time to walk to the rear of the unit.

Someone might mistake the condensation on my head for sweat, but really, it's all glacier inside me.

Icy calm has descended. A far reach of the creative, emotional part of my brain realizes this is the first time this has ever happened. Several times I've watched sick children be carried from the household, and I've always had what I now realize is the luxury of turning to someone else and asking them "What do you need me to do?".

The smokies are ten feet away from me now, and Red turns to me. "What do you need me to do?" she asks.

"Get in the back. Grab a pedi bag and set up fluid. Pull the IO out."

A tsunami in navy clothes and black boots, the fire department surges into me, breaking around the rock of my unit. The firefighter with the kid in hand starts spitting out a report as we step into my unit.

"7 month old, has had a cold and fever past two days, found having severe difficulty breathing by his mother. When we got here he looked like a fish, wasn't moving any air. Mom couldn't get us no history. She's that lady rolling around in the grass."

I pull the baby out of the car seat and lay him on my stretcher, flat. he is a mottled, ugly pale, like something you'd see on the cap of a mushroom you'd find in a deep cave. His limbs are sticking out, his head is turned to the left, his eyes looking left, through my side door. He is seizing. White mucus is all around his nose and mouth.

"Suction and bag him!" When this call is all said and done, we will have pulled out over 70cc of mucus from his lungs.

We do not take the time to play with an IV. I slap our pediatric paddles on the child, and my backup drills in an IO needle.

I remember thinking how cute the little needles and pediatric paddles used to look to me, when I was ignorant of their ugly functionality, the brutish nature what we use them for. Seeing only the outside, not the potential inside the sterile wrapping.

"IO is good."

"Versed, check the tape for the dose."

The baby's heart rate is in the low sixties. Oxygen saturation is lower than that. I can feel a pulse. We lay out the tape, pull up some versed, pump air, do math. The versed goes in and the baby goes flaccid after a few more trembles.

I pull out the tiny tube, the baby blade, and peer into his mouth. I can't see, and pull out. There is still a lot of mucus. We bag and I suction a little bit more, and finally I think I can see cords. The baby squeaks once, and with the noise the cords, feather quick, move toward and away from one another. That clinches it.

I get the tube. The kid's sats don't jump instantly, but we get an End Tidal CO2 reading of 20. I'm in. We secure the tube, and when his sats do begin to rise, it is rapidly, all the way to 100%.

My backup calls in a report as I continue to breathe for the kid. We bring him to the hospital.

And after they get him stabilized, we bring him to the local PICU hospital.

His color has returned, and he is now a uniform light brown, the color of good coffee and milk chocolate.

Red is crying a little when I walk back to the unit. She wipes her eyes.

"It's different when you have kids," She tells me.

I nod, but inside, I disagree. As she walks to the front, I walk to the back, and let out a shuddering breath.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

- Rebel Without a Clue

Ok. Although AD just bought him a big ole bike for travel and what not, I've not yet made the plunge myself. I don't really know anything about motorcycles, and have only ridden a dirtbike a few times as far as experience with them goes. So imagine my surprise when one of my moms orders one of these:


Well, it finally came in yesterday. We put it together, fueled it, oiled it, hooked up the battery. Mom had a very little amount of ride time in her past but was able to helmet up, hop on, twist the throttle, and zoom off down our neighborhood street. By this time, I have a bunch of James Dean and Marlon Brando images running through my head. I run inside, throw on some jeans, and get ready to twist the throttle. How hard can it be? It's just a moped. Right?

I should've known this was a mistake.

I did real good, at first. Mopeds are not that complicated. I enjoyed the breeze and sensation of zipping up and down the road in front of our house. I got confident....real confident. You can see it on my face. Look at this sexy hunk of man-meat. That's right, ladies, he's single!

Yes, I am ugly, and not well proportioned. Damn you, cheeseburgers and nature.

Well, I did real good, and was smiling, and was happy, which basically shows fate a big flashing neon sign that reads "Mess with This Guy".

I did not dump the moped in the road.
I did not dump the moped in traffic.
I did not run a stop sign and get creamed.

I dumped the moped in my carport.

Anatomy of A Disaster:

1. Left over from my application of oil to the moped, a slight slick was left on the surface of the carport.

2. I am an inexperienced rider.

3. My helmet was not fullface.

4. A little too much speed coasting in.

5. Tennis shoes, no grip.

As I come into the driveway, I managed to slow down OK, but am probably still going too fast - in this case, probably 1 mph instead of 0.5 mph. As I pull in, my shoes slip in the oil and the moped tips me over at a 45 degree angle, right into the picket fence. I am going 1 mph, and everything is in slow motion. I flashback to every bad motorcycle wreck I've ever run, and realize the guys that make it through OK usually have riding jackets, full face helmets, leather pants, heavy boots, and, oh yeah, usually know what they're doing. I, on the other hand, have on:

Old T-Shirt
Cheap Jeans
Tennis Shoes
Underwear, now soiled.

And of course, my helmet. As I rhythmically konk my head on each picket of the fence (konk...konk...konk) I realize that I'm too far over to be able to reach the back brakes, and that each time I try to squeeze the front I'm twisting the throttle. I cannot stop this bad dream, this death at one mile per hour, and just want to close my eyes until it is over.

I flounder helplessly, a prisoner to my own incompetence, and finally, the nightmare comes to an end. I never did actually manage to find the brake, but my dead weight body has managed, through friction, to stop the runaway scoot-scoot. My helmet emits one last konk as I wheeze to rest.

I sigh, stand up, and inspect the damage. My mouth is bleeding, and realize that my upper lip got caught on the handlebars as I went down. My jeans are ripped up pretty good, and my elbow is pretty scraped.

Oh no, I think, mom saw the whole thing! She gets so emotional! She's gonna freak!

I walk inside to my my mom, down on her knees, hand clutched to her chest, face red, unable to breathe.

Shit, I think, it's the big one.

As I step closer until the living room, I realize that Mom is not having the big one.

Mom is laughing so hard she cannot maintain sufficent oxygenation to stand up.

As the last little shards of my self-esteem crumble to bits, I grab a paper towel and try to wipe the blood up from my arm.

"Why....why...hahaha, hoo! Why didn't you STOP HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"


1. Road Rash where my jeans opened up: two scrapes on my right knee.
2. Laceration, one inch, to the right elbow.

3. I'm sure there's a medical term for this that I don't know: it's the little piece of flesh that connects your upper lip to your gums. Well, I no longer have one. It is completely gone:

4. The bike got some paint scraped onto it, which wiped off with some serious sponging.

5. Dignity has not yet returned,.

As I shower out, gingerly touching my upper lip, memories of my wretched scooter abortion still fresh in my mind, I think:

Man, I've got to get one of those!

I walk out to head over to the LAEMT conference, I say goodbye to my mom.

"See you later!" she says. "Oh, and MM?"


"Drive safely! BWAHAHAHAHAH!"