Duty · Fun And Games Off Duty · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Life in Da City! · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact

9-1-1 Follies

So, TINS, TIWFDASL…. er, well, OK: I was NOT FDASL, rather, this was long, long ago, and far, far away, and Doug, my partner, had his car in the shop, and so I picked him up, and we went to headquarters in order to pick up our paychecks.

I was driving him home, and we were chatting about inconsequentials, when I had stopped at a traffic light. Coming from our right, a soul had stopped in order to make a right turn, and once he attempted to make his turn, another idiot (wait for it!) had stepped out in front of the vehicle.

The driver slammed on his brakes, and chastised the pedestrian-idiot (who had not been paying attention), whereupon the pedestrian rejoined with some unwelcome insights about the driver’s mother, and her lifestyle choices.

The driver exited his vehicle, displaying a knife (that was clearly visible from across the street!), and chasing the pedestrian. He (the driver) was bellowing, “You sunovabitch! I could have killed you!”, as the pedestrian retreated around the parked vehicle, retreating for his life.

Just past this dance, was a pair of pay telephones (remember them? Another artifact from my youth!). Doug went to one, and dialed 9-1-1, and I took the other, deposited some change, and called our dispatch Bell line.

My call got answered first. Ronnie the dispatcher answered my call, took my information, and passed it to another dispatcher. Then, he chastized me.

“Mcfee, you DO get, that you are off duty. Right? Why don’t you let the other guys get some excitement, for a change?”

I laughed, said my goodbyes, and hung up.

Doug was still awaiting 9-1-1 to answer his call.

We got back in my car, and drove on.

Duty · Fun And Games · Pre Planning Your Scene

REDUNDANCY.

The other day, I was reading about everyday carry, and one writer was talking about how “two is one, and one is none”.

I recalled one night, nursing midnights in ICU. Now, every single hospital that I have ever worked at, has an emergency generator. These are equipped (or, at least, SUPPOSED to be equipped) with an automatic apparatus, that is intended to identify an interruption in the supply of power from the local power company, and start up the on site emergency generator, and then, once said generator is up to speed and functioning, disconnect the hospital from the shore power, and energize all “emergency” circuits from the generator.

As it developed, on this night, the power went out, and everything went black. We eagerly awaited the onset of generator power, but, alas, such was not to be.

Now, y’all may not know this, but in an ICU, there is an abundance of very, very sick folks. Indeed, several of them are dependent on ventilators to, well, ventilate them, since their illness renders them incapable of breathing adequately on their own.

With that thought in mind, it may not be a surprise that these life saving ventilators require an uninterrupted supply of several things, not the least of which is electricity, in order to function. When the power fails, and the emergency generators do NOT promptly start up, well, things get interesting.

While the ventilators, themselves, do NOT have battery backup, the alarms signaling malfunction, do. In order to respond to these alarms, the nurses, such as myself, need to alight from our chairs, walk around the nurse’s station, enter the room, and identify and remedy the fault eliciting the alarm.

(a) That is considerably easier to accomplish when you can see where the frack you are going, and identify trip-and-fall hazards, prior to, uh, tripping over said hazard, and falling upon your face.

(b) Should you have TWO ventilated patients, you are tasked with reaching each patient, disconnecting that soul from the (nonfunctioning) ventilator, and manually ventilating them employing the manual bag-valve resuscitator kept at bedside for just this sort of problem.

Except, you are one, non elasto-nurse, person.

As it developed, our ward clerk was in nursing school, was intelligent, and had paid attention. She ventilated my second patient, and the on-unit respiratory therapist ventilated Mary Sue’s second ventilated patient.

It only took a couple of minutes (…that seemed like hours!) before we regained power. But, I thereafter took to carrying a flashlight on my person.

Problem solved, right?

Not so right. A couple of weeks later, the power failed, again. The generator failed to generate, again, and I thought, “Voila! I’ll whip out my handy-dandy flashlight, and illuminate the area!”

Problem with that, is that the flashlight had somehow turned itself on, while on my belt, and was deader than disco. So, same cluster…er, hug (yeah! HUG!), same musical ventilation, and same subjective eternity until power came back on.

New! Improved! Plan, was a couple of flashlights, with a regularly (every other month) assessment of function and battery charged-ness. As well as additional flashlights squirreled about my person. So, presently, I have two flashlights on my belt, two in my shirt pocket (one Streamlight Stylus Pro, another that has been customized with a near UV emitter, so that I can use it as a Wood’s Lamp), one on my badge (one of the coin cell lights thrown in with my order from the folks selling me my CR 123 batteries), and one on my keyring (a Streamlight Nanolight). (none of these are any sort of freebie: I bought the Nanolight, and the Stylus, and then bought several more, at retail, because they perform for me what I need doing. Like, illuminate my way when nocturnal dogwalking, allowing me to avoid a dirt faceplant.)

Duty · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact · Sometimes You Get to Think That You Have Accomplished Something!

PARENTING STRIPES

Another blog had an entry that reminded me of one of my own parenting moments. As I recollect, Number One Son was misbehaving, and so The Darling Wife-Mark I and I imposed some limits: grounding or some such thing. We observed that a repeat performance would elicit a spanking.

He responded, “Well, I’ll just call the police!”

I smiled. Told him to get his shoes, and get in the car. Now.

We had a leisurely drive to our local small town police department. I asked if I could speak to an officer. The nice desk lady asked, why?

I responded, “This child just informed me that should he require a spanking, and I administer it, he will call the police. I simply do not want to wait. May I speak to an officer, please?”

She bade us sit, and soon an officer arrived. I introduced myself and Number One Son. The officer asked, had I spanked the lad yet?

I replied, no, not yet.

He asked, in what manner would I spank the child?

I responded, with my bare hand, since the point was not pain, nor injury, but, rather, recalibration of his behavior. Once my hand started to hurt, likely my purpose had been accomplished.

So, the officer asked, you intend to spank this child, if other measures do not change his behavior, in order to discipline him?

Yep, was my answer.

“Isn’t that kind of your duty as a parent, to correct misbehaving children? I do not see anything you are describing as actionable by me. You’re simply doing your job as a dad.”

I turned to my son, and asked, “Do you have any other questions for the nice officer?”

Duty · Gratitude · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Sometimes You Get to Think That You Have Accomplished Something!

Jes’ Folks. Plain, Everyday Folks

Glenn Reynolds, proprietor of Instapundit, wrote an article for USA Today, nearly three years ago. Read it, please. And, reflect on who benefits when we are set at each other’s throats.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2019/07/22/fatal-car-accident-reveals-fundamental-american-decency-column/1790753001/

I have had similar experiences, among them one chronicled here. It was as if we had our own “Insert Name Here County First Responders Association” meeting, there on that highway.

Again, this tale recalls a similar event. In this case, folks trudged their happy asses out of their warm, dry, non-windy homes, to help push a nearly (lessee: nought goes into nought… divide by zero…. carry the eight… three guzintas…) 10,000 pound ambulance out of a snow drift, at night, while it was snowing it’s freaking ass off.

So, tell me again who benefits when we are set against each other? If we are demonizing each other, how likely is it that we can ever (a) agree on a list of priority problems, (b) discuss rational maneuvers to address these problems, and (c) agree on any sort of effort to implement these interventions?

Por ejemplo, howzabout covid? Could we have discussed risk vs benefit of lockdowns, of “two years to flatten the curve” (had our governor been honest), or, even, “two weeks to flatten the curve”? Could we have had a real, ya know, two way, conversation about vaccination, efficacy, adverse drug reactions, liberty, personal autonomy (remember “my body, my choice”? Seems so long ago. Good times, eh?), risk vs benefit? Instead, anybody who speaks about any sort of disincentive to accepting vaccination, like, say, severely truncated testing protocols, or, say, known (even if small in magnitude) incidence of cardiac adverse reactions, or any of a dozen (that I can think of off the top of my head) risks genuinely presented by the extant vaccines, gets shouted down, deplatformed, or, worse, fired and hounded. So, I ask, who benefits when that happens?

In stark contrast to the Chattering Class, above cited are first person narratives of genuine Americans who, in a crisis, come together and identify what needs doing, and then, quietly, FREAKING DO IT. These folks identified one of their neighbors, identified that this neighbor was in need, and set to work. No command, no haggling, no bullshit. Simply, “How can I help?”

Tell you what: I resolve to be inspired by good examples. I will try to NOT buy into name calling, and, rather, own disagreements with others, and seek to see those disagreements as honest differences of opinion, where I am able to do so.

I resolve to try to be inspired by volunteer firefighters who interrupt Christmas with their families, in order to respond to a neighbors catastrophe.

If we open our eyes, there are uncounted examples of folks living up to their ideals, even as there are examples everywhere of those who fail. Sometimes fail horribly.

Mr. Reynolds, thank you for reminding me that most of the time, most folks simply try to get through their day, and, maybe, help their neighbor. To paraphrase his thought, I will try to let myself be reminded that, given the opportunity, most folks will reveal their fundamental decency.

Duty · Fun And Games Off Duty

It’s All In How You See Things!

Sometime towards Mom’s 98th year, we, her children, began to consider, and present to her as a possibility, the idea that perhaps she ought to live in an assisted living establishment of some sort. She had owned up to some difficulties with traversing the stairs to and from the basement, where the laundry facilities of her home were located. In addition, there were no blood kin anywhere near her.

She was unimpressed. First off, she was unenthusiastic about moving from the home she had shared with our father, her husband, for a dozen years, and where she had lived during the following thirty years.

Secondly, she had grown accustomed to her home, and did not want to leave her home, in any event.

Third, her solution to “all your children live a thousand miles away, if not on the other side of the planet”, was that one, or all, of us should simply relocate to The Un-Named Maternal State, forsaking our present homes.

Not happening. Brother The Second had his own business, and that sort of thing is not readily amenable to simply relocating halfway across the country. I was not gonna live under the way liberal regime of said state, anyhow, and that was not even considering the fact that all my children resided in The Un-Named Fly Over State. Grandkids, as well.

Finally, Mom presented her (in her view) closing argument: “I simply do not want to live with a bunch of old folks!”

(silent rejoinder: “Mom! You are ninety-freaking-years-old! Rilly?”)

Duty · Gratitude · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Sometimes You Get to Think That You Have Accomplished Something!

Telemedicine: Threat, or Menace?

One fine day, I was at work, FDASL, and received a text from my daughter, let’s call her Brenda. She related that her second child had developed what looked like pink eye, to Brenda’s assessment. She (Brenda) had contacted whoever, and that medical soul had video chatted/e-visited/virtually visited/some other bullshit with my grand daughter, and had prescribed an ophthalmic antibiotic.

Brenda was not altogether certain that this assessment was spot on, and wanted her clinician dad’s take on things.

As you may have surmised, MY take on non patient contact, not in the same room “visits”, is not filled with much enthusiasm. There is something to the gestalt of being in the physical presence of somebody, that provides you with clues that are neither evident, nor are they provided across a video screen of any sort. (Ever smell the fruity breath of diabetic ketoacidosis? Ever smell it over a phone?)

Placing that aside for a moment, I asked for some pix. (I am aware that this amounted to the very same thing I had just, 11 words ago, railed against. Wait for it.) My grandchild’s eye appeared red, and (uncommonly in pink eye), so did the tissue surrounding her eye.

I asked if this grandchild could move her gaze left and right, upwards and downwards, painlessly. Was there any change in her vision?

The response I received was that the vision in her affected eye was “blurry”, as well as “it hurts when she looks up”.

My response text, verbatim, was, “Who is going to see her in person, in the next half hour?”

Brenda took her child to our local urgent care, which clinician, to THIS clinician’s credit, is reported to have entered the room, taken one look at my grand daughter, and turned to her mother, and said “So, I’m not going to charge you for this visit. Do you know the way to Big City Referral Hospital? Good. Do not dawdle. Go directly there, now. Yes, I mean the emergency department. Thank you. Drive safely.”

THOSE folks examined her, CT’d her, and started an IV (a process that Grand Daughter did NOT approve of!), and IV antibiotics, and admitted her for several days. The CT had revealed a peri orbital cellulitis (mild, but, nonetheless…), which responded to the medication.

She is now home, sassy, and none the worse for the experience. Take home points: Brenda demonstrates many, many of the affirmative attributes of The Plaintiff: she is smart, decisive, has a finely calibrated and high functioning “shit don’t sound right” detector, and is a bulldog advocate for her children.

I loathe “telemedicine”.

Sometimes I am both blessed and lucky. This time, to the benefit of my grandchild.

cats · Duty · Gratitude · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important!

KITTEN TAILS PART VI

So, TINS, TIWFDASL….we, uh, no, I was NOT Fighting Disease And Saving Lives, rather, I was at home while TDW-Mark II recovered from surgery. (Thankfully, minor. Well, “Minor” from my perspective. I’m pretty cure that, for whoever goes under anesthesia and awakens with sutures and re-arranged body parts, ain’t no such thing as “minor” surgery!)

In any event, on my multiple rounds on TDW, I noted that there appeared to be two, or three, cats perched upon the bed. Should one depart, one would take station. The others would eat, play, loll about: typical cat stuff. The two, or three, “on watch” all appeared to gaze upon her, that is, if they were not snuggled up against her. Just as if they were, indeed, “on watch”.

Olivia appeared to be the one constant watch-stander. She was perched upon TDW’s pillow, and did not seem to move. Others would appear to rotate in and out, but Olivia was pretty constantly there.

When she (TDW) was up and about the next day, she commented about it. “Every time I opened my eyes, one or more of the cats was there, looking at me. I felt as if I had a couple of private duty, furry little nurses!”

Then she reminisced. “remember that time you had your GI bleed? The two dogs, and all three cats (at one time, my cat crazy was under better control….) were settled in all around you! They would only leave to eat, drink, and go. Then, they were right back.”

At that time, we developed the McFee Critter Triage System: if one animal is sleeping with you, that’s normal stuff.

If two of them, well, likely normal, perhaps not.

If three of them, The Spouse needs to take a closer look at things: it ain’t raht!

Four? When is your doctor appointment?

Both dogs, and all three cats? Call dispatch. It might take some explaining (“Ma’am? Did you just tell me that your emergency is that all five animals are sleeping on the bed with your husband? I…I..don’t understand..?”), but Bad Things are at hand. Do Not Dally.

Fortunately, TDW-Mark II recovered uneventfully.

Duty · Fun With Suits! · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact

Going Solo

There I was, Fighting Disease And Saving Lives, one weekend day, and I was soloing. Generally, our agency’s practice is to have two providers on duty at a time. On this particular day, I was “It!”, with no partner. The floor staff was sympathetic. I was all “Meh?” about things.

I was reminded of an old joke. It seems this fellow had had his fill of driving a lengthy distance, and elected to stop for the night. He stopped at one hotel, and was told that there were no vacancies.

He stopped at another, and yet another, only to be told, again and again, that there were no vacancies.

Finally, in response, he asked, “If the president of The United States was standing here, telling you that he needed a room for the night, are you telling me that you would turn him away?”

The desk clerk declaimed, “Of course not! Of course, we would make accommodations for The President!”

The traveler squinted at the clerk. “Well, I just read in The Daily Tattler that The President is in Bagwanistan this week. Since he will not be arriving, I’ll take his room!”

The application to my situation was to ask administration if there was anybody else working with me on that day. Of course, as reflected in the fact that there was, you know, nobody else there with me to fight disease and save lives, they would tell me that, no, there was nobody else to work with me that day.

In this imaginary conversation, I would next ask, “Suppose I got hit by a bus on the way in to work today? What would you do, then?”

The reply likely would be that “In that event, we would do (xyz)!”

Which, of course, would elicit the response, “Surprise! I did NOT get hit by a bus! Hey, howzabout (do xyz), and get me some freaking help, eh?”

Duty · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact

Partners. Or, Not.

So, TINS, TIWFDASL, and it was approaching the end of my shift. The other midlevel was a locum (think: rent-a-clinician), and since I was busy with my side, I wasn’t paying a lot of attention to her.

One of my patients was pretty sick. As in, “Where is my ambulance”, sick. I also had a couple of other folks, who had to wait while I dealt with Mr.-or-Mrs.-pretty-sick.

Once the ambulance had departed, I tended to my other patients, and noted that the floor staff appeared pretty, well, relaxed. I asked them, “Doesn’t Little Mary Sunshine have any patients left?”

They looked at me. “Uh, no. She beat feet out the door while you were in with your emergency. Oh, and one of her patients did not get their antibiotic. The pharmacy called, and would like you to fix that.”

I did a literal double take. “Say what?”

The MA repeated herself. There was still 10 minutes in the shift.

They tell me, several months later, that I got very, very quiet at that. Concerningly quiet.