Showing posts from 2006

Happy Christmas!

This year was totally weird. Not only because it was my first year away from home, but I worked Christmas eve and Christmas day also. It didn’t really feel like Christmas yesterday, especially as we had a surprising amount of calls. Also it’s been unseasonably warm here. I’m learning that there is no such thing as a traditional Christmas anymore, and I’m okay with that.

Santa came to our house on Christmas eve morning as Andy and I both had to work Christmas day. And by ‘Santa’ I mean Santa, the big man, the real deal. He has an amazing network, and is always on top of things. He’s unpredictable, and always has a trick up his sleeve. He brought me a crock pot and a sleeping bag, and some salt and pepper shakers. I’m going to be trying out the sleeping bag at work tonight, I can’t wait. Speaking of not being able to wait…it’s only about 20 more hours now until I’m back in the old line state! And 14 of that will be taken up by work!
After work on Christmas eve, I went to church…

The Home Stretch

In less than five days I’ll be back in Maryland for a week. I have never been so excited to be going home! It’s really impossible to explain, so I won’t try. Maybe in the upcoming week I will. Sorry that was really uninformative.

So, I’m working the next four days straight, I’m pretty excited. Why? Merely because the time at work will mark the passing of days, and might give me something to do. Oh, and the double time on Christmas day.

Work was pretty much uneventful this week. One of my colleagues had a patient with a dissecting abdominal aortic aneurysm last night. The patient coded when they walked in the hospital door, they were all freaked/excited. By the way, a dissecting AAA is where your aorta splits, and blood fills the cavity the dissection forms, and its basically really, really bad.

Ooh, also, my roommates saw not one but two moose in the back yard! We were all very excited and there was much rejoicing. Hopefully they’ll make some more appearances throughout…

File under 'other'

On Wednesday I had two interesting overriding thoughts in my day. After our first two calls which were kind of fun. I said “I can’t believe we get paid for this.” It’s just amazing, I can poke people with needles, chat with interesting patients, cheer people up, occasional save a life, or at least try, and they pay me. But, by the end of the day, I said “They’re not paying us enough!” I’ll spare the details of the most disgusting call I’ve ever been on. I pretty much hope that I never have a more revolting, horrid call. That’s all really. It’ll be a hard call to trump.

I worked a whole 911 shift with Andy, it was totally weird, and totally cool. It’s hard to believe they’d let two UMBC graduates run an ALS truck. A scary day for the local citizens. We only had three calls which is fine by me for the night shift, one was an overdose. I almost said: “I’m sorry that you just want to sleep, but I’m afraid you’ll sleep, like, forever.”

Other than that, I actually hung out with…

Lost in okay calls and love

It’s amazing how familiar I’ve become with the city I work in. My partner and I were both from out of town when we started, and we have found our way to every call without assistance. Well, on Wednesday a call went out to Apple Ave. I looked it up in our map book, and there was no apple avenue, only apple street. “Oh, apple street, we know where that is!” So we headed on over to there, and couldn't find the correct address. We called our dispatch to inquire. They say, you know apple ave, near the airport. My partner and I looked at each other. We were nowhere near the airport. What the heck! I didn't even know where to look in the map book now. I called up dispatch again, and got the cross streets, which luckily were in the map book. We ended up with a 15+ minute response time, but at least we know where apple ave is now (other than not in the map book.) Luckily the patient wasn’t critical.

On Thursday we were called for a car into a house. Whatever this call …


Last week I worked six days in a row. The most interesting calls are already posted, I’m afraid. In three days, I did 38 hours in interfacility work. That yielded one call worth remembering. Have I mentioned recently I’m not a fan of transfers? Oh well.
This patient had stepped on a low shelf in the grocery store and reached up to the top shelf to grab something. You know this story can’t end well! As she stepped down from the low shelf, she caught her ring in the lip of the top shelf. As her body kept going, her finger was stuck and her ring degloved, snapped, and twisted her finger nearly off. At the ER she was told they would amputate. Well, because that is a very frightening word, she wanted a second opinion. That’s how we got involved to take her to another hospital. It was good times as I got to a. give narcotics and b. see the x-ray. I must say it was probably the coolest x-ray I have ever seen.
The rest of the weekend was the usual fare, none too exciting.


Complaining of?

I worked a shift on Tuesday to make up for having last Sunday off. It was interfacility transfers and we were pretty busy, but I got to work with my roommate which was good fun. I think that’s the most time we’ve spent together since I moved here. We have completely opposite schedules.

On Wednesday we were pretty busy and had a few interesting things. We started with a woman who had a TIA (transient ischemic attack = mini stroke). I’ll admit she had me a little worried, but as soon as we got her in the bus, her symptoms began to subside. It was a relief for me, but I’m so glad she called us.
Shortly after we had a lady with nothing wrong with her except for an overly concerned daughter. We did our old standby call and took yet another older lady to the hospital who thought we were all commies.

I would call the seizure in the dentists' office the most entertaining of the day. The patient on the chair had a seizure, the dentist called and we spent 10-15 minutes convincing the patient…

T-giving weekend

I would give this thanksgiving weekend a rating of about 22.6 on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best thanksgiving ever, 1 being no thanksgiving at all. Surprises, turkey, double time at work, Christmas presents, planning, frivolity, love, and general good times abounded.

Not much really exciting or overly holiday related happened when I worked Thanksgiving night. Basically I was able to hang out with my baby for awhile at work, and I was woken up about every 3 hours after he left. We had a fall, 2 non cardiac chest pains, quasi choking, and some other stuff that I can’t even remember. The choking was real, but resolved by the time we arrived, it was also marginally holiday related. I guess the rest of the city was in a post thanksgiving stupor of some sort.
We also had a guy who’s finger got twisted into a pneumatic drill. It pulled the skin a bit, but nothing horrible. Controlled bleeding and such. I patched it in to the hospital as I saw it (nothing to get excited about) a…

Plain and Simple

I am in love.

Great Patient Conversations

nurse: “Have you had any surgeries?”
patient: “Apricot!”
everyone in hearing distance: “Wha?!”
pause: (pauses)
nurse: (in her infinite wisdom) “Can you show me where the surgery was?”
patient: (points)
nurse: “Oh! Your appendix!”
everyone in hearing distance: (stifles giggles)

me: “We’re going to move you over to this bed, okay?”
patient: “I’m gay?!”
me: “What? Oh, no…”

Google search term of the week, perhaps century: “society for the promotion of hubcaps.” You know what a philanthropist I am, especially when hubcaps are concerned. They really need all the help they can get. Support your local hubcap! All four of them! When you see a stray or abandoned one on the road, pick it up. Put them to good use.

Oh yeah, this weekend we had yet another kid who swallowed a coin that didn't quite make it all the way down. Kids!

Ow, my apricot!

Pics and missed calls

The best call of the week was not even my call. If it had come out 5 minutes earlier, it would have been my call, but alas. It was a motorcycle versus car, and the trauma team was activated at our local hospital almost as soon as the ambulance was on scene. Partial leg amputation. We were at the hospital when it came in, and I got to do what anyone else wanted to do: see it. Ooh, it was gross! The patient was taken to a level 1 trauma center about 10 minutes later, although I don’t think there was any hope of saving the leg.

Things were a little slow otherwise, but on almost every call I had a student with me. Still weird, but pretty sweet! Oddly, I’ve enjoyed giving away the few trade secrets I have to new people.

Finally after many dreary days, I went back out on the water today. Since I came back from Maryland, it seems, it has been raining and miserable. Pisgah and I had a nice paddle and it felt really good to enjoy the sun again.

Also, finally, I’ve added pictures…

Odd choices and butter knives

Twice now we’ve been called to the same corner for psych problems. We’ve arrived to find a lady in her late 50s-60s flanked by six or seven police officers. No matter what, this is a curious situation.

The first time this happened 2 weeks ago, the lady looked harmless, but had probably consumed some alcohol containing beverages. There were bike police, at least 3 police cars, one with a very friendly dog in it, and the paddy wagon. One of the cops said to me “Good luck with this one.” My partner went up to the patient.

partner: “Come on, let’s go.”
patient: (refuses)
cop who warned me: “You can either go to the hospital, or go to jail!!”
patient: “Well then, I guess I’m going to jail!”
everyone: (incredulously) “What?!”

When people are given this choice, no one, and I mean no one chooses jail. I mean, why would you? Going to the hospital can sometimes be a get out of jail free card, as you are probably crazy. We were all justifiably shocked, but at this point, my partner an…


Directly after my night shift last week, I flew down to visit my boyfriend. I’m pretty sure this trip is in the running for ‘greatest surprise pulled off ever in the history of surprises.’ My family knew, his family knew, and he was left completely in the dark, hilarious! His mom and I were in cahoots, and she convinced him that his father had a coworker coming over for dinner. Perfect motivation for him to clean his room, and leave his clinical on time. Predictably, he called me when he left his clinical, and I talked to him as he drove home, unbeknownst to him, closer to me. When he arrived, he said he’d better go as this coworker was there. Okay, I said, covering my excitement with mock disappointment.
Within minutes he realized that the coworker was me, and I was greeted with a probably 10 second open mouthed stare while we all laughed at his expense. Ah…

It was so hard to keep that secret! I feel weird disclosing it even now as it was shrouded in such secrecy.

Well, aft…

Highlights of the Night Shift.

Last weeks shift is pretty much a blur, but more on that later.

Car accident with nasal injury. Unbelted, no airbag, a sharp stop, a pole, and something I’m not sure of caused our patient to have cut his nose from bridge to tip. The bleeding was more or less controlled before we arrived, we checked it out, took a collective yikes! and covered it back up.

Wacky cardiac rhythm. It was so wacky that I actually sent it to the hospital using the wonders of technology before we got there. I was dead excited that they received it successfully. The doc pulled me aside to inquire, and I showed him all the 12 leads I had taken and he came to the conclusion that he didn’t know what to call it. It was like a sinus beat, then a couplet of sinus beats (that looked different from the first) followed by a pause of about 5 seconds. Then the pattern would continue. Sometimes with sinus beats, sometimes with possibly atrial beats, and sometimes with ventricular beats. That’s confusing! Well, …

Highlights of the Day Shift.

The wino in the woods. The patient was passed out pretty far off the road. It really looked like a shady scene from law and order, but it quickly lost that luster after the cop pulled a huge, now nearly empty bottle of wine from her purse.

The woman who ran her suv into the side of a building. Not too much damage to either, but I had a difficult time holding in my laughter.

When I squished, crushed, damaged, injured, messed up my finger in the cot. It was my fault for having my finger there, but man did it hurt! To illustrate the seriousness of the situation, I jumped up and down in front of our patient and her family, put ice on it, and recently even put a band aid on it. Serious stuff. Unfortunately, it has hurt more in the last couple days than it did a week ago.

The call for the bus accident. Bus accidents usually go in a couple directions: really annoying, and really annoying. Well, this one wasn’t so bad. Apparently, the ‘incident’ occurred about 30 minutes before we …

Fasting? Try Money

Last night shift was pretty sweet. I slept in relatively uninterrupted comfort from about 0145 to 0630. We started the evening with a local student who, after playing a game of organized sports, collapsed on the sidelines. We arrived and he was pretty out there but responded to pain and us shouting his name. The coach informed us that the student is currently celebrating Ramadan, and hadn't eaten since about 5 o'clock that morning. It was about 6pm when we found him. So, we start a line and took a sugar, and it was only 44. Well, that's not normal, especially if you haven't eaten in 12 hours. So we gave him some glucose and thiamine and he perked right up. I love calls where it feels like we're actually helping people. It was my first experience with a call as a result of a religious holiday, and I was pretty fascinated. I learned a lot from the patient, that is, once he was conscious.

That was pretty much the highlight of the shift as far as I remember. …

Finally caught up

Today started out with a chest pain call. En route it was revealed that his chest hurt only because his internal defibrillator had gone off 3 times. This call had potential. It had potential until I walked in the door, found a well dressed, reasonably healthy, asymptomatic patient. Monitor, O2, IV, and we’re off.

Also, a possible broken leg, morphine for everyone!

We had our first flu patient of the flu season who made my OCD flare up, forcing me to decon the whole ambulance. Whew! I felt better after ensuring that all surfaces that I regularly touch were antibacterialized.

Other than that I became blissfully aware, I think I learned what being in love feels like, and decided KT Tunstall is completely right.

And, the rest of the calls

A cute kid who learned that grabbing a knife is not the greatest idea. Her new favorite pastime was yelling.

We've visited a few public places recently. A seizure in the mall, a back pain in a bank, and a fall at the dunkin’ dounuts. We resisted playing into our stereotypes and left without coffee or doughnuts.

A patient complaining of leg pain. Yes, I’d have leg pain too if my legs were as big around as my torso. I cannot even describe this patient to you; it causes me to lose my appetite. How people can treat their lives this way, I don’t know. I was thoroughly disturbed and skipped lunch.

A lovers spat that ended with assault with a bottle, belt, teeth, and HIV.

I did an overtime interfacility shift and we got posted to a local hospital and did nothing for several hours. I went out to the truck for a nap and I think that I got nap whiplash. I fell asleep and snapped my head back up so quickly it hurt. It didn’t stop me from more napping though.

I think our most intere…

Can I borrow that black cloud for awhile?

One Monday I did an overtime shift. I was pretty excited because no matter what I did, I knew I was getting paid reasonably well for it. My partner was a new medic (newer than me, believe it!) who started the evening by informing me that he has a black cloud following him. I figured together we’d make a nice gray cloud that would allow us to sleep. We had calls spaced out enough for me to be really tired Tuesday morning.
The highlights included a car accident with 6 patients and a sexist firefighter whom I may later thrash. Three women were on scene from my company, and this guy managed to leave them all seething. It’s a talent, I assume he’s been perfecting it for forty years or so. Note to self: next time I see him on scene, ignore completely.
Later we had a call that came out as unconscious. En route we were informed that CPR was in progress. My partner and I divvied up the skills, and the tube was mine, sweet. Just as we arrived on scene the engine company reported ‘p…

So, Last Week

My parents came up north for a little visit, and we did all kinds of local things. On Sunday we sent to the seacoast and enjoyed hanging at the beach when no one else is around.
On Monday we went to Salem, MA and burned some witches. Well, actually we didn’t because it turns out you need a permit to burn witches in Salem. But, you can put supposed witches on a large scale to see if they weigh as much as a duck.

On Tuesday, we went to a shaker village in Canterbury, NH. I learned that shakers are totally weird. Weird like a highly organized pacifist cult. It is fairly amazing that they lasted so long, and had thousands of followers when their membership was based on adopting orphans and recruitment. The shakers lived in completely self sufficient communities, made their own clothes, food, buildings, etc. Okay, I’ve even bored myself at this point, so I’ll stop.

Finally, on Wednesday we went to visit the LL Bean flagship store in Maine. I got a new hiking day bag, which will…


The procession of police officers from around the state and around the country march proudly and solemnly through the streets downtown. The main roads are blocked off and I curse as I realize there’s nowhere to park and I’ll now be late for work. Then a wave of terrible guilt forces me to retract my curse. At the station, purple and black bunting has been hung carefully, the trucks are pulled outside, the crews standing in front of them as the procession passes by. A gesture of our sadness, our wish we could have done more, performed a miracle, saved his life. I miss the funeral on television as I am driving to the gravesite; we're there to represent the company, to show we care. As we wait at the cemetery, the fire department arrives and hangs an American flag from their tower truck. Marines prepare for the 21 gun salute and bugle taps. The procession arrives, and I hold my breath as the hearse and limos pass. The procession continues with what looks like the entire poli…


I tried to take a picture of the highly reflective and ridiculously large paramedic patch, but it was just too reflective!!

edit 10.22.06 11:13pm: Okay, so it's not actually a picture of the vest, merely what I thought would be an amusing picture to illustrate how large and reflective the patch is. I couldn't really find the picture that I was envisioning in my mind.

And, yes, a super sleuth found me out at work.
Super Sleuth: "Are you 'A work in Progress?'"
Ellie: "Uhhhhh...."

I was a little surprised, to say the least. I guess I'll just have to stop badmouthing every one at work. And to think, I was just about to post my list of people to kill in order to get a better full time schedule, oh well.

edit 10.22.06 11:16pm: I wasn't discouraged by you finding me out, I just haven't had the time to write! More to follow soon...I hope

Didn't get much sleep

Lack of updates to be made up for immediately.
Last night started out with a diabetic problem at our local arena. Sounds simple enough, right? Well firstly, the circus is in town. We got to go in before anyone else and see them cleaning up and what not, it was cool. Also, since the arena is across the street from the station, we have had regular zebra and camel sightings.
So anyway, this guy was acting pretty normal and his sugar was 67. We kicked it old school and had him force down a delicious tube of sugary gel. Well, he hated that but we figured that if his sugar went up, he could be on his way like he wanted. After finishing that, we checked again, and his sugar actually went down. Dammit! His mental status was deteriorating as well, so we went to start an IV to give him a quick solution. Four attempts later, we still don’t have a line. Dammit! So, I go out through the gathering crowd and grab the glucagon. What an annoying drug. Draw the saline up, inject it into …

Eye Candy

Monday I drove about 250 miles in search of foliage and crafts. Random, yes. I drove north to go to a craft show. It turned out that the craft show was sub par, but discovering this was well worth the drive. I went up to Franconia notch state park, and enjoyed ogling at the white mountains. I hadn’t been in this part of the state for probably more than ten years, when I came here on vacation with the fam. That’s when I got to see the old man in the mountain, God rest his soul. I drove for miles in the White Mountains National Forest, lost the other tourists and found Zen.

I decided to get home without using the highways, so I picked my way carefully through many towns, and beautiful autumn scenes. I found lots of hikes that I’d like to do whenever I’m not alone, and eventually stumbled upon Lake Winnipesaukee. At 72 square miles, and with a shoreline of about 288 miles, it is one of the largest lakes in the country. I managed to find one of the public boat launches (thank y…

Ow, my eyes!

I’ve forgotten to mention that I finally got my squirrel vest at work. Really it’s just a fleece vest to keep warm in the frigid northland, but it has my name on it and stuff, and the absolute highlight is a large and reflective patch on the back that says “Paramedic.” It is awesome. I think it could be larger and more reflective, but then it might blind people if they shine a flashlight at my back.

I’ve been kayaking a lot. I went four times last week. On Monday it was wicked windy, about 10-15 mph. It was making the water really choppy and wavy. It was so much fun. I got all wet, but it was good fun. On Friday, it was really cold. I had to wear a jacket for the first time in the season, and I wished that I had invested in kayaking gloves already. But, I am working on a great callus on my right thumb which is pretty hardcore.

Work wise, I have had four relatively uneventful shifts. On Wednesday we had an abdo pain who I gave phenergan so as to prevent her breaking my #1…

Night and Day

After all the excitement of my day shift, I was all hyped up for my night shift. But it turned out that they were, well, like night and day. We only had 3 calls in 14 hours!

Also, my weekend shifts were pretty boring as well. I got very far into my book, watched more football than I have in my entire life, and did my favorite work pastime, got paid to sleep.

This was also the weekend of the fair here. I did EMS standby for a while Thursday and Friday. I must admit, this fair is pretty cool. I watched a woodsman contest on Thursday. Here, people rolled large logs, threw axes, sawed blocks of wood, and my personal favorite, used an ax to chop a piece of wood that they were standing on. It was pretty cool, and nobody chopped their leg off by accident.
I also enjoyed fried dough, apple crisp, hot cider, and a sample of maple syrup cotton candy. That’s right, maple syrup, poured into a cotton candy machine, and made into delicious clouds of diabetic ketoacidosis. It tasted awe…

Drug Box Awesomeness

The greatest call of the day/week/month came out as chest pain. We arrived to find our patient who only spoke Spanish with no translator in sight. Oh yeah, what made it a pretty hilarious call as well was the fact that I had a paramedic student with me.

So, the student started to attempt doing his thing, although none of us spoke comprehensible Spanish, while the firefighters went to get the stair chair. When they returned, one of them for some reason inquired “Why is she on a nasal cannula?”
Although I’m sure that some of my colleagues would point to the paramedic patch on their left shoulder and say “That’s why!”
I, however merely attempted to explain that I believe a nasal cannula has more uses than for tying things together. Where a mask can feel constricting, a nasal cannula can deliver oxygen without raising the anxiety of the patient, the patient can still get a relatively high concentration of oxygen, and although you think she appears to be ‘gasping for breath,’ I think …

Are my pupils equal?

When I got to work, I stepped up into the back of the ambulance and rammed the top of my head right into the doorway. I wasn’t sure which hurt worse, the top of my head, or my neck where it got hyperextended. Oh, it was throbbing. I stood there in the truck, blinded by my trauma, and thinking I had broken my neck. I wondered if my ear was leaking fluids, if my pupils were equal, and if I was bleeding. In a few minutes I could clear my own c-spine, but I continued to damn the tones, sirens, peoples voices, and any movement that caused me to feel my pulse in the growing goose egg on my head.
It’s better now, although I had to comb my hair very gingerly today.

Our first call was to assist the police with an unknown problem. They were trying to serve a warrant and the arrestee was claiming that her doctor told her not to leave the house. So, they called us to check it out. We walked in and a spry looking woman was sitting there, smoking a cigarette and yelling about going. She kindl…

Holy Cow, it’s the Fire Department!

After a long dry spell of interesting things to blog, it seems that in one day I’ve had at least a months worth of excitement. I can barely handle it! So. I’m going to start from the beginning (of my day that is).

Around 130 am today, Andy woke me up, and said “There’s smoke in the house.” What! I am not the easiest person to wake up, but I think I am getting better and faster at going from zero to competent, thanks to work.
I threw on a coat and opened the door to the hall and was met with this horrid, acrid smell of some sort of burning substance. Hey, I’m no firefighter. So, Andy was sniffing around the house trying to find the source of it. He was already up because he is a responsible volunteer type and was going to go to a real call that had come out a few minutes before he stepped into the hallway and smelled this smell. Instead of going to the original call, he decided to have some more firefighter types come over and check it out. So as the emergency apparatus came…

Hometown Madness

Last week after a day at work, I got up early and flew home, amazingly cheaper and much faster than driving. It only took me about an hour of flying time to get to the Baltimore area. From there, the parents found me and we went directly to the fair in my hometown. We are crazy about the fair in my family. Relatives come from even farther away than NH to enjoy it. There’s something about it that entices us back; the food, the entertainment, the nostalgia.
Because the fair has such a draw, I saw a great many of my family members, almost as many as Christmas time brings.
The fair is never complete without corn dogs, laughing hysterically during a wild ride on the tilt-a-whirl, getting heckled by carnies, running into about 50 people you know, petting some cows, posing with a tractor, and doing some serious people watching.

We also got to enjoy the annual demolition derby. Hilarious and awesome as usual and hopefully next year my cousin will get a few more hits in before his car d…

No place like home

A proper update very soon, until then, a nutshell. Smashed up cars, whiny patients, the family, life long friends, air travel is brilliant, great food (corn dogs, hot turkey, funnel cakes, cotton candy, and pretzels), and being on vacation in my own house is straight up weird.

90 days, memory gone.

Since last we met: Um, a 10 month old w/febrile seizures, an increasingly crazy lady, a car accident with 3 refusals, one girl in big trouble, a guy who put his hand though a window (unfortunately a window that had glass in it), a lady who needed to be picked up off the floor at 4am, and some other calls which I totally don’t remember.
Also, I got my 90 day review (so now, they can’t fire me on a whim.) I can hardly believe it’s already been that long!

I’m off to Maryland tomorrow to enjoy family, friends, cars smashing into each other, piglets, and delicious hometown fair foods. Woot!

Socks and Saws

Patient complaint of the day: “My feet are cold.” We found her sitting on the floor outside of her apartment. How she got there was a bit of a mystery. Apparently she fell down in her apartment, and found it to be a good idea to crawl outside with a blanket, her purse, and her shoes. She ‘needed’ to go to the hospital so she could get her medical records. And her feet were cold. When she started moving she writhed in pain and exclaimed “My leg’s asleep!” Between us picking her up and putting her on a chair she made the greatest decision in the history of decisions and said she’d call a cab.

Then we had a call for cardiac problems. When we arrived, we found a lady looking totally fine sitting in a clinic. The doc took a 12 lead as part of a pre-op check up and found some changes indicative of a heart attack. They hadn’t done anything for her, and why? She was completely fine. Asymptomatic from the time she walked into the clinic to when we left her in the ER.

The best …

Long Enough?

Five years.
Is that long enough for television specials, dramas and documentaries, two theatrical release movies? One, “Flight 93” which made almost 31.5 million dollars in the US alone. More recently, “World Trade Center” has made 55.6 million dollars so far. 87 million dollars, for who? Were these movies made in case we forgot? To remind us of what humans are capable of? As scare tactics?

I still see faded "United We Stand" stickers on cars. I think we’ve forgotten what we’re standing for. It is a day of national mourning, and five years later, those responsible still roam free. Because the president puts a wreath on ground zero we're supposed to feel safe, comforted, of one mind?

I read an article in JEMS about EMS providers who are literally dying from materials they inhaled during the clean up. People who are left with 33% of their lung capacity, bills they can’t pay, rare types of lung cancer, having to quit the job they loved because of debilitatin…

The miracle drug

We’ve had a whole mess of calls where ice cream could have been realized as a powerhouse drug in the prehospital environment. Amiodarone is to cardiac problems as ice cream is to everything else.

We had a call for a fall. We found an 80+ year old lady who fell from standing and broke her wrist, her pelvis, was knocked out for about a minute and ended up with a concussion as well. Osteoporosis is a harsh reality, so keep eating that ice cream!

Guy having pain from his sciatic nerve. Treatment: Ice cream topped with morphine.

Chest pain with sinus arrhythmia 100-160. Treatment: Ice cream with bits of nitro in it. Worked like a charm.

We had a lady with more complaints that all of my previous patients put together ever. "I can't feel my legs, and my arms hurt, and I have heartburn, and yeah, now that you mention it, I am having trouble breathing. Also, my back hurts, I can't stand up, I feel tired. I'm thirsty." I said: "Here's a quart of breyers,…

All we could do?

It was supposed to be easy, but these things never are. When I entered the house, from downstairs I could hear the fluid in her lungs. The patient was dying. The family, initially prepared for this event, had been enduring her tortured breathing for an hour now, unsure of what to do.
The daughter, who could legally decide, didn't want her transported, and only really wanted her to be comfortable, nothing invasive. I was at a bit of a loss as to what to do. Lasix would only delay the inevitable and what she really needed was intubation, among other things. With a pulse in the 40s I tried to explain to the family that it was quite serious. I realized we were treating them more so than the patient, they only wanted to know that she wasn't in pain. So, we gave her oxygen and I attempted a line, but the lighting was terrible and she had no veins. I found myself able to think about nothing other than how horrible the situation was. Midway though my IV attempt, my partner leaned…

The spice of life

We had a patient who had been huffing. ”Huffing?!” I thought, “who does that these days?” But indeed the patient had been doing it, and the mother produced the can to prove it.
a. you are much older than 16, the age where I thought huffing, if it were to happen, would happen.
b. it is not 1995, which is when I think the last reported case of huffing occurred.

A lady found a bump in the sidewalk that caused her to crash her motorized wheelchair. The second motor wheelchair wreck in my career, and in this one, the chair came off worse than the patient. She was refusing before we were over the threshold of the store she had stopped in. I wanted to slip the card of my favorite lawyer in her purse, but alas, he works out of state.

I think I had my first ‘sick person’ who actually turned out to be a sick person. Lots of calls come out as ‘sick person.’ It’s like the default category for calls where dispatch may or may not know what’s going on. Usually these calls turn out to be…

Bloggie Benchmarks

A work in progress is celebrating 150+ posts and 7100+ hits! Yay. Certainly there are blogs that get that many hits in one day, or even one hour, but hey, it took me a year and a half!

I'm going to celebrate by going to bed early and working the entire weekend! Woot!

(if you want to buy me gifts, I'm sure we could arrange something, for the good of the blog, of course!)

I’d been gettin' a vibe…

We headed to a call for seizures. We figured something else was going on when two police cars showed up too. The relatives on scene said they were worried that the patient had a seizure and was refusing to let them in the apartment. The patient had a history of being combative when postictal (the state someone is in after having a seizure, typically they are confused and out of it, occasionally to the point of being violent.) So, we headed up to the apartment which turned out to be about 400 degrees, with the patient lounging in a chair looking totally fine. The relative insisted that she go to the hospital to be checked out and the patient jumped up and appeared to ready herself for a trip to the ER.
On some calls, okay, on most calls you get a vibe of some sort. Sometimes it’s nothing, or that something doesn’t add up with the patient and their situation, or my favorite, when the vibe you feel is that of crazy. Just as this particular vibe was washing over me, the patient ru…


I did something really vacationesque with my day off, I went north, and when northerners go north, it can only mean one thing: Maine. Many New Hampshireites, Masstonians and Connecticut-people choose to have summer homes in Maine. It seems these places can be placed on a spectrum. On one end there is a beautiful, huge home with every amenity you could hope for and a classy grocery store close by. It overlooks private beach where you can watch the dog and the kids splash around in the surf while enjoying your break from the office. I’m sure there’s a light house in there somewhere too.
On the other end of the spectrum is a simple cabin with basically no amenities, in the middle of nowhere on a virtually private island. The nearest road as well as the nearest grocery store is more than 30 minutes away. Space is rented to park your boat on the mainland as there’s no other access but the sea. You enjoy the smell of fresh cut wood as you lounge in an Adirondack chair counting di…

A different kind of job**

He's upset, and they can tell. He has good reason to be. The ambulance is there to take his dying wife to a hospice home. She won't be coming back, nothing will ever be the same.

The paramedic expected a frantic family and when they met she could tell that they were only calm on the surface. The call quickly became a bit of a complicated situation as the patient was on the second floor and any movement caused her agony. The husband immediately questioned the quality of a two woman crew and their ability to get his wife out of the house successfully.
Undiscouraged by this common misnomer, the crew weighed the options of different ways to get the patient out of the house. The stair chair was not even a choice, carrying the stretcher in was a bad idea, and it turned out that the movement required to use a scoop stretcher was too much for the patient to handle. Finally, they settled on a long backboard to minimize movement. A bolus of morphine was administered before anything was…

So, what's the address?

The most curious call of the weekend came out as a ‘warm response’ which is for whatever reason what we call a ‘hot’ response for our interfacility trucks. What does it mean anyway? You either use both lights and sirens (hot) or use neither lights or sirens (cold), with no in-between.
Anyway, the call was dispatched through our operations center, and they’re not exactly adept at dispatching emergency calls.
“Warm response to 683 main street, that’s 683 main street just west of the city line, they say it’s about four houses away from the city line but it’s 683 main street. the house has white siding on top and brick on the bottom, they’re going to leave the garage light on for you, it’s just outside the city boundary, but its 683 main street, warm response, uh, for diabetic problems.” I can’t make this crap up! He was dispatching this call for minutes, while we have to stand there incredulously waiting for him to shut up long enough to say “we get it already, show us en route!” W…

A 24

Unfortunately, you don’t get a 3 day weekend for free around here. My traded shift landed me with a 24 hour shift yesterday. But, it turned out to be not so bad. The first half of the day was on a transfer truck. We had a long distance call that made me an hour late for my night shift. Too bad it didn’t count as overtime.

911 wise, we had a very good night. I got to miss a call for a lady who fell down and needed to be picked up. So, my first call was for a girl who was “unresponsive.” She did a very good job ignoring painful stimuli, failed the ‘you won’t drop your arm on your own face’ test, but when we asked her to stand up, she did, so I’ll admit I was a bit baffled.
We learned she had a history of eating disorders and the rest of her history was sketchy at best so we gave her the good ol’ coma cocktail. Well, her blood sugar was good so she didn’t need the D-50 and I don’t think she needed Narcan either, but last time we had an ‘unresponsive’ the nurse on the med rad…

Playing in the surf

A new batch of photos for you today, mostly of, well, the new boat of course! The fun we had trying to kill ourselves on the ocean, and some other fun stuff!

Kayak Spots

New Hampshire

The Truck

3 day weekend! Ewing’s here! Pisgah’s here!

On Monday we went to the beach. We spent 4 hours hopping over waves and surfing (sometimes successfully, sometimes not so successfully). I learned that it’s great fun when the nose of the kayak is being forced underwater by the power of the wave, forcing you to accept your fate of being rolled up into the wave. But the new boat did well, and when I timed it right, the surfing was all it was cracked up to be and more! Although, it’s a lot harder than it looks. I killed my arms and abs trying to keep the boat straight as the waves pushed us forward surprisingly fast. Needless to say there was salt and sand everywhere, and we had to spend lots of time hosing everything down, and I still think I’ll find sand somewhere we didn’t think of in a few weeks.

Tuesday we took the Pisgah and a borrowed 16 footer out on a huge lake in Manchester. The boat proved fast, straight, smooth, and generally fantastic.

Commodore Ellie

14 feet long, 23.5 inches wide, 55 lbs, 9000+ cubic inches of storage, pro flex backband, adjustable foot braces, deck bungees, bow and stern hatches, recessed anodized aluminum deck hardware, all standard features on the new, royal blue rotomolded polyethylene kayak.
Yes, an unexpected and yet welcome acquisition, to what you could now call, the fleet.

Research was carried out covertly and an ingenious plan was hatched and set in motion just a few short days ago. First, it seemed worth the $150 shipping just to see how a 14 foot long 50lb box would be delivered. Then, through a series of unforeseen events, a friend from home (where ironically the boat was readily available) found out he was able to come visit.
“Hmm, you’re coming up here?”
“And you’re driving?”
“And you have that kayak rack you bought a while back?”
“And you love to go shop around at that nice outdoor store?”
“I’m hatching an ingenious plan…” (drums fingertips together, and laughs maniac…


Not much entertaining has happened recently, but some exciting things are in the works. So, some random thoughts to tie us over:

1. In this state, kopapa has become like an accessory, like, my Chihuahua. I have to carry it everywhere I go, because you never know when you’ll stumble upon some water begging to be paddled. I should get a Louis Vuitton bag for it or something, to make the carrying easier. “Ooh, lovely bag.” “Yes, it’s for my little kopapa!” (insert collective ‘aw!’ here) Granted, an 8’6” purse would be a little cumbersome and generally frowned upon in most department stores, but what if the mall had a large fountain?

2. Does it bother you that there are instructions on toothpaste tubes? Are there actually people who are going along, ready to brush their teeth, only to discover that all the toothpaste was at the bottom of the tube? What to do!?
“For best results, squeeze tube from the bottom and flatten as you go up.”
Wow, thank goodness for instructions.
Are there…

Solving Problems

The other night I went out with my roommate and some of her friends from around here. One asked me if I had I saved many lives yet. No, but I have solved a lot of problems.

Last week we spent 40 minutes on scene trying to be good humanitarians and enjoy the social work aspect of this job. A lady had back pain, got a prescription for said pain, took a few, prescription is subsequently stolen by supposed junkie. Lady’s back pain is now worse, calls 911, we show up.
Well, I started with calling the pharmacy because she couldn’t remember the name of the drug. Yep, it's a controlled substance. Then, we call the police department and walk her through making a report. We were on hold awhile. In the meantime, my partner gets her a coke and she has a cigarette. Finally, I call her doctor, who wants her transported anyway as this is not the first time this has happened. So, we end up transporting after all.
When we got to hospital, I waste even more time having to justify my long on s…

The first step

The house is very neat and well kept. Not a speck of dust or dirt exists. Family photos are lovingly arranged on the mantle, and the days paper is folded neatly at the kitchen table. She herself, is a spry, healthy seventy something grandmother. A widow who lives alone in her large house.

For weeks now, a man has been stalking her. He has broken into her house, stolen her things, destroyed tranquility that existed in search of valuables. She has been forced to change the locks on the doors, hide her jewelry and purse, and call the police to her quiet neighborhood many times.

It all started when she hired him as a painter. He never finished the job and ever since has been lurking around the house. He has disguised himself as various things; a painter, maintenance person, landscaper. If only she had known this before. An altercation with the stalker has even left her with a black eye. A man willing to do the unfathomable act of assaulting an elderly woman. She's put three…

New Layout! sort of

I was struck by a sudden need to change the look of the blog. I spent many hours deciphering css code on the template and doing a lot of guess and check work. I think it’s come out alright. A little more bucolic feel than the other layout, and a lot less generic.

This weekend was typical and atypical. Saturday was pretty routine, but we did get to use the always fun lights and sirens to go to a trouble breathing call. Sunday was bliss. 2 calls in 12 hours. The first was a 911 call to my one stop light town which was like a work reunion. Three other employees were there to greet us (who are also on the volunteer department here).
Our second call was another trouble breathing. We’ve really been getting a rash of those come to think of it. I’d say at least half of our calls in the last week or so have come out as trouble breathing, shortness of breath, asthma attack, oxygen deprived, not breathing enough, CO2 retention, cardiac arrest (which counts), and if we were British; di…