Showing posts from April, 2012

Clean Undies

One of the myths of EMS is that clean underwear is required before calling. 'Be sure to put on clean underwear in case you're in an accident!' your mother may advise. But, to be fair, I am not the least bit interested in the contents or quality of your underwear. That said, we do appreciate the presence of underwear, as opposed to none at all. And yeah, I've seen plenty of underwear, and most of it is extremely forgettable.

But, I did hear a good story lately.

They were called to a motorcycle accident. The patient had stopped short and layed the bike over. Annoyingly, the weight of the bike had snapped his leg. They arrived to find him sprawled on the ground cursing between clenched teeth, clearly trying to master his pain with careful breathing.
After assessing the patient and getting the backboard ready, it was time to cut his pants off to get a good look at the leg and likely set it with a traction splint. The crew were met with loud objections from the pati…

House Guest

In this job we come into people lives when they least expect it, and trust me, no one bothers to tidy up before we get there. It is a fascinating privilege to be invited into patients' houses. We are seeing them not only at their most vulnerable and sick, but we are seeing them in their own private spaces. I've picked people out of every room in a house, including and quite often, the bathroom.

What prompted my thoughts on this subject was a recent call, of course. I hate to be fooled, especially by a house. I went to a call in a pretty nice neighborhood and as I was finding the house, I remarked to myself how glad I was to be in this particular area. How nice it will be to go into one of these houses. Undoubtedly it will be clean and bright and well kept. But one might think I would have learned by now that every time I think this, I'm wrong. I should probably stop counting my unsmelly and well-lit eggs before they hatch.

The last time I assumed tidiness, I was m…


Sometimes in this work, things are timed perfectly. Too often people wait too long to call. I can't blame them, no one really wants to see us. Also too often, people call too early.  I mean, they probably shouldn't call at all, but that's a different post.

Recently I had a perfectly timed call. I arrived after the ambulance and peeked in the door, I was advised to set up in the truck while they got the patient out of the house. Sweet. As I was pulling cords out of the monitor and opening an IV start kit, I saw someone running out of the corner of my eye. The back doors were suddenly flung open and they pushed the now unconscious patient right in front of me.
"He just went unconscious when we got outside." the EMT hurriedly told me. Well, shit. But how convenient to go unconscious just as you are being loaded into an ambulance where a paramedic is standing with EKG cables in her hand. So, I threw him on the monitor and he was v-fib (a lethal but treata…

Rules of the Road

When I ride my bike on the road, I wear a high-vis vest, I have a blinking tailight, and I chose roads very carefully based on speed limit, shoulder width, and of course, hilliness. I ride in the road as that is what I am supposed to do. I obey traffic laws and signal my intent at intersections.

This morning, while riding along, minding my own business, I was honked at. Confused, I looked over and saw a woman in a van nobly gesturing to me and then forcefully pointing at the parallel sidewalk.  Her implication was clear that she wanted me to be on the sidewalk despite my shoulder riding and despite the fact that she had the width of two lanes in which to get around me.  I immediately went crazy, at least by my standards, and shouted at her.  I remember repeating "no" quite a bit, and then pointed to myself and shouting "I am a vehicle!"  I didn't even curse, which was surprising to me, and I didn't do any rude gestures in her direction.
Despite my anger,…