04 August 2016

The Dog

She was dead.  He knew it from the moment he saw the car, but he had to check for sure.  The worst part of the job.  Glass crunched under his boots as he approached the car, now barely discernible from the tree it hit.  Two fingers found their way through the broken window and onto the side of her neck and lingered.  Ten, twenty, thirty seconds.  How long to be sure?   He could have stood there all night waiting to feel a pulse, but he knew better.  He shook his head at his partner. The backboard in her hands made a soft rumble as she retreated, dragging it along the road back to the ambulance.
He wanted to be sure that she was the only one in the car.  He shined his bright flashlight through the car and along its final path. Snippets of her life were now strewn along the road.  Cell phone, spilled purse, her favorite gum, a snapshot of friends.  He turned his flashlight to the woods, to the field across the street.  Glass sparkled along the road as he searched.

Ready to head back to the station, he heard it.  The whimper of a dog.  Crouched under the back bumper, it hopped toward him on three good legs.  Instinctively he reached out to the little thing.  It sniffed- and finding him acceptable, boldly inching closer.
"We're you in here?"  He asked as he scooped it up, clutching it against his chest as it trembled.

He was left standing there, holding the tiny, shivering thing, wondering what to do with it.  His partner returned. "Jesus, where did that come from?"
"I think it fell out of the car."
"Fuck". She shined a flashlight around the dog.
"What do we do?"
"I don't know."  He sighed.

A thin towel protected the small dog from the cold of the steel exam table.  The vet assessed him quickly. Ten, twenty, thirty seconds.  How long to be sure? She looked up and shook her head.

He held the dogs head in his hands, smoothing the fur that caught his tears. 

28 July 2016


I forget most calls by the next day.  Looking back on the old blog, I remember more from years ago because I actually wrote them down.  So, here's a few.

A guy with bleeding ulcers that had been leaking for about a week or so.  Yeah, you have no blood left.

A man whose dialysis shunt sprung a leak.  Yeah, you have no blood left.

A house fire where I gave a cat oxygen.  EMS bucket list check. (Damn, no media coverage of that!)

A benzodiazepine overdose. Ooh, drugs and unconsciousness.

An unconscious stroke displaying Cushings triad. Let's intubate you and atropine you, and get you right down to the ER real quick like.


Someone recently asked how many of my calls were true "emergencies". I said 5%.

5% may even be an over-estimation Something I’ve come to realize and have to accept that we are not in the business of saving lives. We are in the business of solving problems. Boiled down, our job is to be the clear head in the situation where no one else can seem to get their shit together.

Yes this is a great illusion. It is not why I got into this business or why anyone got into this business. Work has become like air travel, long periods of boredom punctuated by tiny moments of excitement. Like, when a meal arrives.

But maybe this is a natural part of any job. Any job becomes routine. Maybe anyone with 10 years in any field would feel the same way. Maybe anyone would say that their job is at its zenith 5% of the time. That, or we’ve convinced ourselves that public service is easy and rewarding which it is often times not.

There is no sense in dwelling on these truths. I can be on the road to burnout and world-hatred, or I accept, move on and try to be the best paramedic I can be. Because one day, in that 5% moment, that’s the paramedic that patient needs.

27 July 2016


As a paramedic, have to be a pretty good negotiator. Maybe you are surprised that negotiation is an important aspect of the job. Sometimes people call, and then when we get there and bring some calm, they get cold feet. I have to convince people to stay home as well. “You have the flu, please don’t come to the ER.” I usually say through a window using a bull horn. When hospitals get busy, I have to sell alternatives. When I want to start an IV, but the patient doesn’t trust me yet, I get that done. I have to coax kids into not crying, coax parents into not crying. I have to squeeze information from human turnips that just about drive me crazy. At the same time, I have to figure out if these people are drug addled, drunk, or just plain lying to me. All this talking to people, as an introverted extrovert, is exhausting, but sometimes a rewarding part of the job.

The other night, I couldn’t make anyone do anything. We started with a lady who had a seizure and then fell and wacked her head. Blood was everywhere, bystanders were concerned, but she was just as happy as a clam. “I’m fine.” She repeated unconvincingly. We got her bandaged up and in the ambulance and all buckled in before she decided that this was not what she wanted to do with her day. Normally, I am okay with people making alternative plans. “Yes, have your wife drive you!” I usually say through the PA of the ambulance as we drive away. But this lady was not making a good decision. For almost an hour, I talked to her. The police came and talked to her. The doctor at the ER talked to her on the radio. She was implacable, and we had no ability to kidnap her for her own good. So, off we left.

Immediately after, we met a guy who “just wasn’t feeling right”. He had had chest pains off and on, felt weak, and then nauseated. Fortunately and unfortunately, everything we could check checked out fine, but I wanted him to go to the hospital. I used anecdotes, scare tactics, and I even pulled out the big guns: “If you were my dad, I would want you to go.” That line almost broke him, but he decided to wait it out until the morning. There are some conditions I can’t fix. Stubbornness is one of them.


So, here I am bored at work and I wonder…what ever happened to that blog I used to write? Yeah, there was stuff about EMS or ambulances…something like that. Sometimes stuff about travel. Oh! And a whole month of just pictures. Weird. Then, I think that the job got boring, or sad, or both and the blog sort of stopped. Sure, maybe a few meager posts here and there, but nothing too exciting or deep, but thankfully, no sad poetry either.

Perhaps the world is blessed by having one less blog. One less tangle of self obsessed prose. One less (pre) millennial bitching about how hard real life is. One less quarter life crisis immortalized with questionable grammar in ones and zeros. “Oh, my job is boring. I don’t get paid enough. I’m single. Everything sucks. Oh, I go on trips and rub them in everybody’s face. Oh, I’ve filled the internet with 1000 blog posts, look at me go. Oh, my pets are cute.” No one cares.

 Then I remember. All those calls that I can’t actually remember are here. Some okay poetry. Some travel anecdotes that only I care about. But that’s blogger life for you. My whole life there for the internet to see, yet no one is watching but me. (there’s some more shit poetry). Self indulgent “therapy”.

So, I’m here to stay. I will continue to agonize over wording that no one (very few) will read. I will think about the blog and maybe not say ‘forget it’ right away. I will post pictures of my cats, because I am a single woman over 30 and it’s in my spinster contract. I will make jokes that only I laugh at. I will write down calls that I will forget. My ‘comeback’ will be boring but not as sad as that as some D list actors. I will take my D list blogging to a new level. I will get one new person to read this that isn’t a robot trying to sell things.  One new person whom isn’t a fake Nigerian prince (although, be careful, I am susceptible to romance).  One new person whom I’ve never met. So, c’mon blog. Let’s do this thing.

20 June 2016

20 June 16

New uses for backboard and crutches.

19 June 2016

15 June 2016

16 June 16

Temporary insanity in the house while getting a new plaster ceiling.

12 June 2016

12 June 16

Best strawberry rhubarb I've ever made.