“Howdy April! “
“I gotta ask ya… How did I look in my underwear tonight? I wore a special pair just for you”
“Um… What?? What do you mean?”
“Well, you always seem to call me to come over here just after I’ve gotten into bed and right as I’m going to sleep. I figured you probably have a camera in my bunk room at the station or something”
“I wore the pink ones. They’re special. Just for you.”
This conversation pretty much actually happened the other night. No, her name wasn’t “April” (because I’ve changed the name) and I wasn’t actually wearing pink underoos (they were purple) but the sentiment was there just the same. Even in my relatively small jurisdiction we have our share of “frequent fliers”, the regular patients who call 911 all the time and seem to make up an extremely disproportionate number of our annual calls for service. They’re our regulars. We know their addresses by heart and cringe every time we hear them come over the radio. Sometimes the regulars are sweet people, nice folks in every way who call us for legitimate reasons… other times; they’re not.
Regardless, the regulars are fixtures at every single EMS station I’ve ever been to. Every service has their share and every service knows them by heart. We get to know them, and they get to know the crews as well as drug seekers get to know the local ER docs. Sometimes they even get to know our shift schedules and only call on days where they like the EMTs that are working. Sometimes they just don’t care and call when they’re lonely, or when their scalp is itchy, or when their feet are dry, or when they’re sure the kid down the hall is up to no good and they know the cops will come when they call for an ambulance… etcetera.
Sure, I could be a good little EMS blogger and give you a bunch of useful strategies on how to positively affect the lives of these patients and offer them resources on how to more constructively manage their healthcare/loneliness/insanity needs… but not tonight. Tonight is the second night of an unscheduled 48hr shift and I know… I JUST KNOW that the camera in my bunk room is very much functional and someone is going to see my polka-dot underwear and call for me just as my head hits the pillow.
So tonight I’m going to tell you about my new idea for a game we can start to play here at the unnamed ambulance service where I work.
I call it, the “Wheel of the Regulars”
I plan on making a “Wheel of Fortune” style game board complete with a rotating wheel made out of plywood. I will put a spinner on it and divide it up into sections. In each section, I plan on putting the initials of our most prolific EMS regulars… the ones who we are almost guaranteed to see multiple times in one week. I’ll make it so that the wheel can be spun manually, and will eventually stop with an indicator showing the initials of one of the regulars.
Each morning at Start of Shift, I plan to have each crew-member take a turn spinning the wheel. That will be their bet for the day… if the regular whose initials they have randomly chosen through their spin calls 911 during the shift, they will win a prize. Their bets can be hedged by the EMT estimating the time the patient will call down to the minute, and the employee who gets closest to the time the regular patient actually calls will win an additional prize. I have a feeling that we can get a pretty good pool going with this and that it will be loads more fun than the run-of-the-mill sports pools that go around this place. I figure that if the game gets big I can make a lucrative side business selling the game board and the system for playing the game.
Maybe I ought to sell this idea to the people who brought out the EMS Monopoly game?
Nobody has found a really effective way to deal with regular EMS callers yet (Could I call them “Prolific Patrons”?) because the problem is as multifaceted as it is expansive. Sure, there are tools out there for our use, but none of them are very effective.
And until we find a way to fix the problem, we might as well have some fun with it. I even tried to come up with a song to sing while the wheel was spinning, but all I could think of was this:
Have a good night, everyone!