Thursday, May 29, 2008

- Attitude

I had had a cough for the most of the week, and while lifting a patient into the unit, I started coughing again. I felt something pull pretty good in my upper back, on the right side, and when the pain didn't go away immediately; I called the Supervisor and told him I needed to be replaced.

They sent me home, and I went to the doctor's office where I peed in a cup and was told I had a thoracic strain - no heavy duty lifting for a week, heavy being anything more than 10 pounds. I advised everyone up the chain about my restrictions. "Well," they said, "maybe we can find something here for you to do that's light duty." They haven't let me know anything yet, despite my repeated attempts to contact them, so today I stayed home. I've also come down with some sort of intestinal virus, which has been not fun so far.

Earlier in the week, I was relieved to receive a phone call from the office. Maybe they had come up with something for me to do! I stepped into the main office to find one of the Veeps sitting there. He is a small man, and he has a moustache the twitched like mouse whiskers. I have trouble lifting my eyes from them to meet his gaze.

"Hey, MM. How are you doing? I heard you got hurt. Tell me what happened."

I give him the rundown. He steeples his fingers and appears to listen, and his mouse-stache twitches only once or twice when one of the other medics walks by with some Burger King. But when I finish, he looks up at me.

"Oh, ok. Well, I just wanted to make sure of what happened. You're going to be out for a week?"

"Light duty, for a week," I nod. The whiskers twitch.

"OK. So, if you start feeling better, I need you to head down to the clinic. Tell them about the workers comp case and let them know what's going on with you, that you're feeling better, and they should release you to come back. That way we can get you back in."

I get the sinking feeling he did not listen, really, to anything I said, except for the part where I'm out for a week. But then I realize what really happened - he's trying to find out if there was something I screwed up on, that they could pin on me. Paranoia? Probably, but this would be more par for the course for someone from upper management deigning to grace me with their presence.

He looks at me, smiles an empty, watery smile, shakes my hand. I can look through his eyes and see the gears spinning in his head. Then his whiskers twitch again, his eyes light up, and he walks into the next room. A few seconds later, someone walks in carrying a big cake.

He left me sitting there. Maybe it's do to my recent low morale, as evidenced by my last post, but I felt more than ever like I was just a number to this company. Profit X will be affected by MedicMarch not being able to come in, so let's fix that problem.Well ya know what? Profit X will also be affected by MedicMarch if he permanently injures himself and has to go on permanent light duty. Asking me to come in early from a back injury is short sighted - yeah, I may be back on my truck again for a couple of weeks, but if I get hurt, you'll have to fill the spot again.

This injury was preventable as well. We were in someone else's unit, not ours, because they do not have enough spare units to cover when one of the contract units breaks down in an outlying area. The truck we were in was broken down too (but not enough to render it unusable, apparently) in that the air ride would not drop. This is not that big of a deal but lifting that extra bit of height contributed to me hurting myself. Also, my truck, even though it is a full time truck, does not have a power stretcher, even though the area I work in makes 1/3 of the division’s profits, the largest by any area in my division. The next closest area makes 28-30 percent. They have several spare units in their area, and all units are equipped with brand new power stretchers. They also all have new ALS bags that sit better on you shoulders and don't pull you to one side. Most of the units are widebodies with extra room in the back, and with new modules with decent lighting.

They told us this year we didn't do so well with our corporate stock, that we only had a 2 percent increase. I tell you, I would much prefer to have new equipment on the truck and only have a 1 or .5 percent increase. I don't see much of the stock money at the end of the day. I don't really have much motivation to keep lining the pockets of the corporate higher ups when we get smashed into the ground every day.

And I know they didn't use to have power stretchers in the old days. They used to have more back injuries, though. It bothers me that we have a soloution now to a problem but it's not getting used. It's like having someone in V-Tach but not shocking them! I'm too young to pop a handful of Ibuprofen every day just to make it through. More and more it looks like I'm going to jump the career tracks. I can't slave away for the next 40 years on a unit, and I'm not selling my soul to go into a support department or dispatch.

I guess that toasty smell is all the burnout inside.

This place is turning into Office Space for me - I have 8 bosses: four field supervisors, a station supervisor, a paperwork supervisor, an operations supervisor, and my Mouse Boss veep. And 6 of them (the original field supervisor I reported the incident to and my station supervisor) have called me to find out if I was "feeling better". I think the only reason the other two haven't called yet is because they haven't been exposed to the dark side of the force yet - neither of them have been in supervisory roles for more than 6 months. I've got TPS reports, too - the company paperwork scores I mentioned in my last post. Guess who calls me when something is out of whack - all of them.

And I guess what I would've liked to have heard from the Mouse Boss was something more like this:"Hey MM, look, man, sorry you got hurt. Let's talk about what happened and see if there's room for us to change the way we do things to make it safer. Tell us if we can help you with something. Also, if you feel like you can handle it, go ahead and get checked out by the doctor again, and if it's ok with them AND you, we can get you back on a unit. "

One thing I want to point out is where I want him to say "to make it safer." It seems to me like most of the changes we get have a motivating focus of "to make more money". The way he asked me the first time had the air of trying to find out if I had been negligent. It felt like I was getting blame pinned on me. Now granted, this is just my perception, but dammit, that's what it feels like.

Way back when - when I was just March, not MedicMarch, I was discussing going into the EMT class at the local college with a paramedic who worked for the company. She was a friend of my mom's and we were out at the lake, rasising hell, drinking. We had a small dip in the conversation and she said "Yeah, you got to watch for the Company, though. They chewed me up, spit me out. It started off good, but in the end, I was just Meat in the Seat." This lady didn't know who I was, where I was from, where I was going to school at, or anything. She told me that, unsolicited, after I stated that I might deicide to go to Basic school.

Not that everything is all bad. One shining point this week was AD contacting me by company email to inform me that he had been assimilated into the hive min...Uh, I mean, hired for my company. Welcome to the Club, Big Guy! Your purple robes are here, and if you give me your shoe size, I can get you some white Nikes. And tell me something else - how do you feel about kool-aid?




Medic61 said...

I completely understand, and I'm seriously sorry you have to go through that.
I do hope your back gets to feeling better soon and that you get some new, safer equipment.

Bernice said...

Everything medic61 said. Also, burnout is just as serious as muscle injuries. Take care of yourself. :)

brite69 said...

The hospital I work for is looking to outsource dispatch and possibly the entire ambulance dept to a "company". (I've been told by management that the road crews won't be affected, but that wouldn't be the first time managment has tried to blow sunshine up my ass) Seems that the only way I can keep my dispatching position is to become an EMT, something that I have no desire to do at this point. I guess the purpose of my being not only EMD, but also EMT is that I can work the road if needed. Again, it's all about that magical dollar.

Sorry to hear you're having such a shit time. I hope you get to feeling better soon and that you're able to not get too burned out.

Chris in SE TX said...

Sorry to hear about your problems.... Seems this hasn't been a good month for you... I guess you could maybe look around for a different company, although I think in LA there may not be much choice....

Good luck, try to spend your time off relaxing and fighting of the urge to get a job saying "would you like fries with that?"

Stretcher Jockey said...

Dude...if only we had an opening...

If one does ever open up, I'll keep you in the loop if you're interested...

Palema said...

Your boss was clearly worried you might sue them for negligence, faulty equipment etc. (and hoping it was at least half your fault so they wouldn't have to pay as much)

If you sue, that's when they fix stuff. all a cost-benefit calculation. I'm sure he really hoped you were feeling better, though ;-)

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