I'm having a conversation with the Office Czar.
"No, I didn't check."
"No. I just said I didn't check."
"Because I was off duty."
"Well, I work 60 miles away from where I live."
I hang up. Ink raises his eyebrows. As I finish my run report the pagers go off again.
"Another fucking BLS transfer. You've got to be KIDDING me. I swear to God, Ink, I'm going to kill someone."
My unit, a 24 hour truck, is running BLS transfers while one unit sits in our base town. Now, from our base town, we cover a large rural area. One ambulance is not enough to cover it - if they get a call, the next closest unit is at the least 15 minutes away, and more likely 20-25 minutes away. And if they're responding to the eastern part of our area, which is bordered by the America's largest swamp, it's a 45 minute response time. That's a long time to wait when you're seriously sick.
To add to this, XXXX EMS has also been becoming more corpratized. When I started 5 years ago, the company was very employee oriented, really taking care of us. Since then the benefits have started to fade, and the company has in my opinion put profits ahead of patient care. Moral has dipped severely and not a lot of the EMTs and paramedics are very motivated. The call load has increased because they've cut units to save money. It's not unusual to run 10 or 12 calls in a 12 hour shift. The pay for a paramedic in my area is laughable - one parish over, they pay 7 dollars more an hour for the same job.
My personal job satisfaction has plummeted.
So when a friend mentioned that a state prison was hiring paramedics for its fledgling EMS program, I took them up on their offer.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Dispatch has trapped us in Major Metropolitan Area and has us, a Specialty MICU ambulance, running a routine BLS transfer.
As Ink is unloading the stretcher, a silver sedan pulls up. A guy gets out and asks us where the nearest walgreens is. I give him directions and he thanks us, then he asks us for a piece of gauze.
"Sure Man, no problem. You OK?"
"Oh, yeah man. I'm fine I just got shot."
Ink and I look at each other.
"What, with a gun?" I ask.
"You mean, like, just now?"
"Yeah." He points to his leg, where there is a through-and-through wound just above his ankle, oozing blood.
"Oh. Dude. You need to go to the hospital."
"Well, it really doesn't hurt that much. Are you sure?"
"Yeah man, let me call it in. Ink, help him into the back and get me some vitals. I'm going to call it in."
The silver car's driver asks what hospital we're taking him to, and I tell them the nearest, only 4 blocks away.
I call dispatch over the radio. "Papa Lima 2 to dispatch."
"Papa Lima 2, go."
"Put us out at this location for a walk up patient with a 58G" which is our code for GSW.
Dispatch doesn't respond immediately, and when they do, it's in a questioning tone "Uh, did you advise a 58G?"
"Uh....standby." I climb in the back and begin in assessment. Remarkably, the wound isn't bad, there's no vascular compromise. The bullet doesn't seem to have hit anything important.
About two minutes later she comes back.
"Uh, Papa Lima 2, police, fire , and City EMS units enroute.Supervisor wants to know if the shooter is in the area."
Shit. I don't know. "Uh, I don't think so. Pt is completely stable, one gsw left lower extrimity, GCS 15"
"Copy that....uh....I'm still going to need you to handle that transfer, so transfer care to City EMS."
Shit. I thought this might have been our ticket out.
About thirty seconds later 4 police cars come screaming up, as well as a fire truck, City EMS supervisor, and City EMS ambulance.
I shrug at patient. "Sorry bro, didn't think it was gonna be such a big deal.
Two City paramedics bust ass with 30 pounds of equipment leaping into my unit ,BSI'd to the teeth. "What you got?"
"GSW to the leg, no other complaints. I got it bandaged and an IV in."
"Oh." They look crestfallen.
We transfer care.
As we drop off our BLS patient, Ink looks over at me. "That was weird."
"Yeah. Yeah, it was."