Swinging a Sledgehammer and Thinking about the UK… Strange times

So here’s the good news. The ambulance service I work for up North, “Ambo’s R’ us” has finally taken the leap and is getting us a new station. Yep, that’s right folks. I will no longer be living in squalor whilst working up here in the vast frozen wastelands.

Except for one little hitch in the gittyup.

In big ambulance services, when one gets a new station, usually the service employs people to work on the station, build and/or remodel the station, and move the stuff from the old location to the new one. Not so in a small, rural ambulance service. Nooooo…. Here, a paramedic is expected not only to work on the ambulance during their shift, they’re also expected to put on their tradesman hat and get their hands dirty.

So, yep… today Ckemtp was not *just* a paramedic. Today yours truly was a demolition man, a moving man, a wall-paper remover, and a carpenter’s apprentice. All of my crew mates were today too, as were the crews yesterday, and so will be the crews who are unlucky enough to come work ambulance shift any time in the next couple of weeks.

But here’s my mea culpa confession folks: I’m not handy.

There, I said it. I am so not handy that hardware stores actually have my picture up on their walls stating that I must ask for staff permission to enter their premises. Apparently they want someone to follow me around with a fire extinguisher because there’s a concern that I might come into contact with a carriage bolt or something and the resulting sparks will start a fire. I, like most of my colleagues, became paramedics because we’re generally not handy enough to get a good paying job in the construction and/or “real job” industry.

What’s that you say? You’re a full-time paramedic/EMT and you own/work/watch a construction business on the side? Well good for you. I don’t. I write stuff about stuff and ride ambos.

The dreaded “other duties as assigned” clause in my job description is being stretched so thin here that you can hear it singin’ in the wind. I didn’t sign up for this. It’s actually very hazardous to my health and well being for me to be doing anything remotely construction or “handyman” related.

There’s a lot of reasons why, the risk of fire, explosion, and/or structural collapse being amongst them… but they’re not the real reasons that I’m so worried about this. You see, I have a lovely wife named Gkemtp(it) who is the absolute light of my life. However, together we own a home which happens to be the scourge of my existence. Like EVERY guy who owns a home, my home is full of things that are disintegrating at an alarming rate. There’s ALWAYS something that needs fixing and they rarely respond to an IV, o2, and monitor. Heck, even my clock radio didn’t do well with defibrillation. I can’t give my clothes dryer Epinephrine to get it started again, my clogged drain didn’t respond to a heparin bolus, and my leaky faucet leaked right through an occlusive dressing. I just don’t understand my home and its malfunctions the way I understand humans and their maladies. It’s awful.

So my wife knows that I am the opposite of the handyman… and she’s pretty ok with it, lest she nag and have me end up breaking something much, much worse than it was before I tried to fix it. I *like* that she’s ok with it… And I don’t need her to think that I came to work, built us a shiny new ambo station, and learned how to be Bob Vila with an NREMT-P patch. It’s bad enough that I clean toilets, vacuum, and do dishes here at work. If she found that out, she might make me do more of that at home.

So I’m stuck here. I’m destined to make anything I fix much worse than it was before, I’m destined to demolish something I’m not supposed to demolish, and I’m destined to make an egregious wiring error that’s going to burn the place down while I’m sleeping inside of it and I won’t even get to go to the fire because I’m on ambulance detail!

Maybe I should move to the UK and work with my good buddy Mark Glencourse, of Medic999 fame. One of the biggest things I took from the Chronicles of EMS, his and Justin Schorr’s (The Happy Medic) foray into cross-national EMS exchange (Soon to be an AWESOME TV show!!) is that UK firefighters DON’T CLEAN THEIR OWN STATION! Yes. They FREAKING HAVE CLEANING CREWS THAT COME IN AND CLEAN UP ALL BUT THE MOST SUPERFICIAL MESSES! Hell, they even have a bona-fide chef to cook for them.

And here I am, scrubbing toilets and swingin’ a sledge hammer here in the ‘States.

So, I’ll keep toiling until I break something so bad that they make me go post somewhere where I can’t hurt myself, and Mark will keep living in the lap of luxury.

Maybe being a Limey isn’t so bad.

  • http://www.firedaily.com Fire Daily

    When I was a wee lad, me mum asked me to wash the dishes. I did such a poppycock job that she never asked me to do them again.

    You might want to think about this whilst frapping the nopper.

    (I just made that last part up)

  • http://www.firedaily.com Fire Daily

    When I was a wee lad, me mum asked me to wash the dishes. I did such a poppycock job that she never asked me to do them again.

    You might want to think about this whilst frapping the nopper.

    (I just made that last part up)

  • http://www.999medic.com Medic999

    Oh, I so feel your pain about DIY. I am so bad, it's just best not to even ask me!!

    As for my station, yup it is a nice clean environment where everything is looked after (eventually!) but that's only becasue we are in with the Fire Service. Ambulance stations tend not to have quite the same facilities, although they do all have cleaners!

    Here's a question to make you ponder though!

    Let's just say you were serious about moving over to a much better paid job in the UK for much less hours, and you and The 'missus' really were going to come. You would have to choose -

    paramedic OR firefighter ??

    There's a whole new blog post for ya right there…….

  • http://www.999medic.com Medic999

    Oh, I so feel your pain about DIY. I am so bad, it's just best not to even ask me!!

    As for my station, yup it is a nice clean environment where everything is looked after (eventually!) but that's only becasue we are in with the Fire Service. Ambulance stations tend not to have quite the same facilities, although they do all have cleaners!

    Here's a question to make you ponder though!

    Let's just say you were serious about moving over to a much better paid job in the UK for much less hours, and you and The 'missus' really were going to come. You would have to choose -

    paramedic OR firefighter ??

    There's a whole new blog post for ya right there…….

  • mack505

    When I was painting, papering, and grumbling before my daughter was born, my Deputy gave me a great piece of advice.

    “Lt,” he said, “if you screw it up badly enough, she'll never ask you to do it again. “

    Words to live by, and they should work with your employer too. Good luck!

  • emschick

    In my county my station is the only one that has a cleaning lady come in once a week. People at other stations make fun of us but if you walk in to theirs and try to use their bathroom you're going to turn back around and go pee in the bushes. I'll personally do extra fundraising to keep our cleaning lady thank you very much!

  • AJ

    Remember: If you screw up bad enough maybe they won't ask you to play handyman again.

    When the only tool you have is a hammer every problem looks like a nail.

  • AJ

    Remember: If you screw up bad enough maybe they won't ask you to play handyman again.

    When the only tool you have is a hammer every problem looks like a nail.

  • AJ

    Remember: If you screw up bad enough maybe they won't ask you to play handyman again.

    When the only tool you have is a hammer every problem looks like a nail.

  • AJ

    Remember: If you screw up bad enough maybe they won't ask you to play handyman again.

    When the only tool you have is a hammer every problem looks like a nail.

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Chris Kaiser aka "Ckemtp"

I am a paramedic trying to advance the idea that the Emergency Medical Services can be made into the profession that we all want it, need it, and know it deserves to be.

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