Back in the Saddle Again!

Back when I was a high-school student I was completely enamored with EMS. I just couldn’t wait to slip into a uniform and get out on the streets of an ambulance. While in retrospect maybe I could have refocused the energy I spent researching the EMS gig into something a little more profitable, the sheer amount of stuff I read about EMS in my formative years helps me in my job to this day.

One of the earliest EMS blogs I ever read was one that I found back in High School. I forget the name of it now and I would guess that it isn’t even still up there on the interwebs anymore. However, the writer’s acerbic descriptions of his own life under the lights of an ambulance were hilarious and fascinating to me. I’ve never forgotten the words he wrote.

I was reminded again of one of his stories this morning when I was getting off shift. I’m finally back in the back of an ambulance after spending some time at my secret-squirrel job and I’m loving it. While I wish I got paid more to do what I love, I do truly love what I do. This morning was no different. Again, the EMS gods had me laughing until I cried while an elderly lady screamed in sheer terror.

Yes, I said that. No, I’m not a monster. You would probably have laughed too. Hard.

This morning the radio decided to wake me up around 0430 for the tip-up of the uninjured fall victim. I went, assessed, found nothing, and tipped the poor guy up back into bed. It was a simple call. He signed off on a refusal form, and all was right with the world again. I went back to the station to write the report and after some time spent in between dozing and typing on the Toughbook, I finished my report around 0600. By then it was too late to go back to bed and sleep for an hour, so I stayed up to wash the ambulance and make sure the shift chores were done. It’s the custom at our company to leave the quarters pristine for the oncoming shift, so we do a full cleaning in the morning before shift change. It works for us.

Around 0630, my partner and protégé Chadwick sauntered in to the station. The poor kid had been ran hard and put away wet the day before and looked unapologetically fresh in contrast to as haggard as I looked. Darn Kids. As he helped me dry the trucks and sweep the floor, I was teasing him about catching a late call.

“Can you feel it, Chad?” I would ask. “Right now, there’s some guy that’s waking up and walking up to the toilet for his morning dump who’s gonna vasovagal out and seize on the bathroom floor. It’s your call so when you kneel down, try to avoid the skid marks.”

I kept razzing him as time went on, and when we finished washing the trucks we walked outside to enjoy the crisp, bratwurst-and-cheese-scented Wisconsin morning.

“Did you hear that?” I asked, “that was someone hitting the floor”.

And amazingly, right then the tones went off. It was for a medical alarm that had been activated at a non-medical senior-living high-rise in town. Coincidentally, it was for a fall victim in the bathroom.

Nice.

Chadwick mumbled something that might have been profane I’d think if he wasn’t such a Bible-Thumper and hopped in the truck. I drove because it was his call. On went the lights before I opened the bay door. I think it’s more dramatic if I turn the lights on before I open the door. It just looks cooler that way. Johnny and Roy did it, so I can too. I also wear my helmet like they did. Yay me.

We arrived on scene right before the less-than-optimally-caffeinated police officer who was responding with us. He was able to finagle the key out of the knox box and let us into the building. Apparently last week one of our crew had gotten fed up with the key not being in the box at this building and had opened the lock in a gentle, professional way using his foot. Apparently the building management wasn’t happy with them for doing that, especially since it was for a call that turned out to be a false-trip of a medical alarm. Today we found the key in the box… weird how that happens.

Chadwick and I deftly navigated the long hallway and the small elevator up to the third floor with our stretcher and all equipment in tow. Hypo-caffeine Copper tagged along, and we found the door to the apartment locked up tight. Luckily for the maintenance man, he had the key right handy for us to use.

We entered the apartment with us yelling “Ambulance!” and him yelling “Police Department!”  I thought it was redundant, but hey… he needed to wake up and yelling something helps that. We heard the sound of a running shower and walked towards the bathroom yelling our respective titles.

The patient heard us, no doubt, and did her best Wicked Witch of the West impression as she yelled “Ohhh Myyyy GAAaaawwwd!” We explained again about the whole “Ambulance!” and “Police Department!” thing, but she was having none of it. We told her that somehow her button had gotten pressed and that the machine had called us, but that didn’t seem to ease her fright at having three strapping young men in uniform show up to help her shower, apparently.

After much consternation on her part, and my starting to laugh the tears out of my eyeballs we thanked the lady, apologized for her fright, and cleared the scene to head to the police department for the fresh pot of coffee the officer said he was dreaming about. We hung out, and since I’m a renaissance Medic I tweeted in a HIPAA friendly manner about the call.

Some of the responses included such things as:

 “So I guess the Medical Alarm button is now the ‘Bring Someone to Wash My Back Button??”

And,

“If she pressed the button and got three young public safety types to show up and help her in the shower, is there a way that I, personally could get the button for my own use? We’d have to have a gender setting, of course… As I require attractive young members of the other gender to help me with my showering endeavors”

And,

(something that was absolutely HILARIOUS regarding “Old Lady Boob” that I have redacted from my blog site, you’ll just have to get on to Twitter to see humor of that caliber)

So after this morning’s antics and activities, I can safely say that I absolutely love my job again. I never stopped, but I’m happy that I came back refreshed from my hiatus. I missed the people we see, their twisted humor, and their acerbic personalities. It’s just like the first EMS blog I read said it would be and I praise whomever he was for his accurate description.

Sorry about the lapse in posting, y’all. I’m back and am loving it. Hope you are all too.

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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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