Fun And Games · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact · Pre Planning Your Scene · School Fun And Games

Paramedic School Stories, Part Two:

Which brings us to STORY NUMBER TWO: (remember the grading scheme outlined last week) In the fullness of time, the second semester ended. I calculated the point total for each student, compared said total to the pre established thresholds for each grade, and, based upon this calculation, assigned grades.

I posted these grades, after turning them in to the program director, who was my immediate superior.

Shortly thereafter, I received a phone call from one student, let us call her Little Mary Sunshine. She was upset at her grade.

“Mr. McFee, you gave me an A minus, and I think that I deserved an A”


“Yes. I think that you should have given me an A.”

“I agree with you.”

“Oh? You are going to give me an A?”

“Nope. I agree that you think that you should be given an A. On the other hand, you earned an A minus.”

“But, I checked my scores! I only missed an A by a single point!”

I checked my grade book. Yep, needed 920 points, earned 919 points.

“I agree with your calculations. You missed it by a single point.”

“I think that you should simply give me that point!”

“How interesting. I however, do not.”

“But…but…it’s not FAIR!”

“In what way?”

“I think you should just give me that point, and then I’d have an A!”

“If I were to give you that point, you would, indeed have an A. On the other hand, you, indeed, EARNED an A minus.”

“But..but..It’s Not Fair!”

“May I ask you a few questions?”

“Uh, OK.”

“You were present in class the first day of class, correct?


“As well, for the midterm, and the final that first semester, correct?”


“Likewise, the first class of the second semester, and the mid term of that second semester, correct?”

“Uh, yeah.”

“Did you hear me talk about extra credit, on each of those 5 occasions?”

“I suppose so.”

“And, did you speak to me one solitary time about any sort of extra credit of any sort?”

“But…but…I never imagined that I’d need any extra credit!”

“Yet, here we are. Had you turned one solitary extra drug card, and the only things on that drug card that were correct were your name, the brand name of the drug, and the generic name, you would have earned that extra point. You did not do so. If you do not care about your grade that much, why should I care any more than you demonstrably do?”

Sometime later I received a call from the director of the program, who asked me about Little Mary Sunshine’s concern. I related the conversation, as related above, and summed up: “Bob, it’s your program. You run it, you are responsible for it. If YOU want to give her that A, go ahead. Simply understand that I will not be signing any other grade form for her. You want to do it, be my guest.”

I heard nothing further on that topic.

Fun And Games · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact · Pre Planning Your Scene · School Fun And Games · Sometimes You Get to Think That You Have Accomplished Something!

More Paramedic School Stories: The First:

Years and years ago, before I left Da City’s employ as a medic, I had completed nursing school, written my boards, received my license and was living large. For certain values of “large”, that is.

I had been offered, and accepted , a position teaching pharmacology, part time, for the program that I had graduated from. The textbook we used (Nancy Caroline MD: “Emergency Care In The Streets”) was outstanding, and provided a clear template around which to build my lesson plans.

One of the innovations that I introduced, from my own nursing school days, was a particular format for drug cards. The point thereof was to have, on a 3 x 5 or 4 x 6 card, the names of the drug in question (trade and generic), the common dosing and route of administration of the subject drug, indications for using the drug, contra indications for using the drug, the mechanism of action of the drug, and the class (often, these last two overlap: a drug classified as a “Beta Blocker” worked by blocking beta agonism on the sympathetic nervous system. If you had mastered that point, you knew that the drug would serve to slow heart rate, mildly constrict arterial muscles (net effect of lowering blood pressure due to slower heart rate and decreased strength of contraction leading to diminished cardiac output), CONSTRICT bronchial muscles, and reduce intra ocular pressure. Or, you could write all that stuff out. For every beta blocker you encountered. Fun times. I simply earned what beta agonism tickled, and knew that blockade thereof reversed those effects.)

In addition, the cards noted nursing considerations (things the nurse, or paramedic, ought to have in his/her mind when employing this medication. Like, Beta blockers: check and recheck heart rate, blood pressure, and monitor the EKG, looking for slowing conduction of the elelctricity that controlled things).

Now, some of my students were first timers. They were folks who, as you might imagine, were taking paramedic classes for the first time.

In The Un-Named Flyover State, the licensing drill went something like this. You successfully completed the course, and took the exam. Pass it in one, bingo, license in hand, go out and fight disease and save lives.

If you failed the exam, then you got one chance to re take the test portion that you had failed.

If you failed the retest, you had to successfully complete a refresher course, whereupon you could re-test, again.

If you failed THIS test, you had to take the entire generic paramedic program, from step one, all over again.

As it happened, a couple of students had, indeed, found themselves taking the paramedic class, in order to qualify for a FOURTH retest.

So, TINS©, I laid out my expectations, had conjured up a 1,000 point, tow semester grading scheme, wherein around ½ of the grade (250 points each semester) would come from the midterm and final, combined. Another 25 points came from each quiz, administered each week in class. 16 weeks in a semester, no quiz on mid term or final weeks, and two other weeks off for review for the mid term and finals, 20 quizzes.

I announced at the beginning of each semester that I would consider extra credit in the event that any student came to me in advance, suggested something that would reflect additional pharmacologic study, and be pertinent to paramedic practice.

So, STORY NUMBER ONE: Somewhere around mid terms, one of the students rose in class, and delivered a pronouncement: Reltney, paramedics don’t need to know all this stuff. Nurses, yeah, I get that nurses need to know this stuff, but paramedics don’t!”

I invited him to hold that thought, and we could speak, in detail, after class. After the end of class, this fellow, along with a couple fo his work mates, all met with me, eager to set me straight.

As it happened, all of these folks were of the looking-at-a-fourth-retest group.

I invited my correspondent to state his case. He did so, as outlined above, with no new explicative material, no new rationale for his position.

I deliberated a moment, and fact checked myself. “So, you have taken the paramedic exam, correct?”


“And, you failed it, is that correct?”

“Uh, yeah…”

“Then, you took it again, did you not? And, failed it, again, am I correct?”


“And, again, after a refresher course, you took the paramedic exam, and, again, you failed it, is that also correct?”

(much more quietly) “yes…”

“So, I’m confused: you are not an RN, are you?”

“Uh, no…”

“So, let me see if I am understanding you: you are telling me, who has taken, and passed, the paramedic exam, and who is, also, an RN, that you are in a position to have an opinion that I ought to find persuasive, regarding what it takes to successfully take and pass the paramedic exam, based upon your experience in taking the exam, and failing it, what, three separate times?, did I hear you correctly?”

He mumbled something indistinct, and found somewhere else that he felt the need to be.

And, I did not hear THAT particular argument again.

Fun And Games · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact · Uncategorized

Random Thoughts III

Story “A”

You may recall my delight at marijuana legalization, correct? Because, “medical marijuana” wasn’t ENOUGH of a cluster f*&k, right? Of course, there is my recurrent delight at the discretion, great judgment, and common courtesy displayed by the genuii who stroll (nay, stumble) about, reefer fumes pouring from every fold of their clothing, if not every pore, in a nigh overpowering display of Poor Life Choices On Parade.

So, TINS©, TIWFDASL© when this braniac arrived, spawn in tow. My poor clerk registered the Named Patient (actually, plural, as in both kids), and then let me know that the chart was ready for me to lay some healing upon them. As if.

So, my first clue that Things Were Not Right, was when the nominally 3 year old child, named Adam, was sitting upright reading some (non picture) book. My second clue was that the nominally 12 year old child, was around 36 inches tall, and appeared to be around 40 pounds. And, did NOT appear critically malnourished.

I asked the reading child, “Please, tell me how old you are?”

The reply was “I’m 12!”

“How old is your brother?”

“Oh, he’s 3!”

I excused myself, and asked my clerk, “Did you know that Adam is 12, and Brady is 3?”

She looked at me, and informed me, “I asked the mother, and asked her twice, which child was which, and who had what birthday. It did not look right to me, but she repeated herself, same birthday both times, for each child. That is what I put down.”

“Well, it is wrong. Please, fix it, and double check it, all over again. Please try to sort out what else she fucked up in registering the kids, please.”

Once the clerk asked the 12 year old for his school id, the mystery was resolved.

My new Life Rule! If you are so stoned that you cannot remember your own gorramned childrens’ birthdays, and you successfully mix the TWO of them up, either stay the Fenomenon home, or WRITE IT DOWN!

Story “B”

Have you heard about Homeopathic Medicine?

What Is Homeopathy?

“Homeopathy, also known as homeopathic medicine, is a medical system that was developed in Germany more than 200 years ago. It’s based on two unconventional theories:

*“Like cures like”—the notion that a disease can be cured by a substance that produces similar symptoms in healthy people
*“Law of minimum dose”—the notion that the lower the dose of the medication, the greater its effectiveness. Many homeopathic products are so diluted that no molecules of the original substance remain.

(from: )

Let’s keep “The Law Of Minimum Dose” in mind for a moment. So, I work in an urgent care clinic in The Un-Named Flyover State. It’s….quirky. Yeah, let’s go with that. So, our cleaners are some folks who are NOT from some national housekeeping chain. I do not know where the owners hired these folks from, but, well, they are, in keeping with the theme of the organization, quirky themselves.

Over the past several weeks, I have been noticing that the hand soap dispensed from pump bottles, has been appearing clearer, and clearer. Similarly, it has seemed less viscous, and less viscous, from week to week.

In keeping with these observations, it has started to require more and more pumps to elicit enough soap to, ya know, WASH MY HANDS!

One of the MA s clued me in to what is happening.

“The cleaners never pour more soap into the dispensers, they just add water. It’s free, unlike the soap that costs.”

I wondered, out loud, “What happens when it is simply only water in the “soap” dispenser?”

She told me, “I dunno, maybe, finally, they’ll buy more soap?”

I corrected her. “NOPE! We will be told, that this is the latest public health innovation! Homeopathic soap!”

Story C

A long time ago, in a county far, far away, I was working as an ER nurse. I overheard one of the clerks engaged in a telephone call.

Now in this agency, at that time, Administration did not want us providing “medical advice” over the phone. I was on board. My stock spiel, when I was trapped into answering some such call, was along the lines of “If you think you have an emergency, you ought to come to the emergency department. If you do not think that you have an emergency, perhaps your problem could wait until (the morning)(Monday), at which time you could arrange for your family doctor to address it. If you do not think that your problem can wait until (the morning)(Monday), well, at this time of night, your only option is to come in to emergency.”

I, myself, often would be the recipient of some query at that point, along the lines of “Well, how do I know if it is an emergency/can wait until Monday?”

My answer would be “You are there, you have sense (Yeah, I was lying through my teeth!), and only you can make that determination. I am not there, and I cannot see what you can see, since you are on the scene, and I am not.”

So, I heard the clerk speaking to some Brain Truster. Attempting to explain, repeatedly, how and why she could not tell him whether his laceration needed stitching. Mr. Telephone was persistent, and I could tell, from my clerk’s responses to him, that he was saying stuff like “Well it’s (insert length here) long, and about (insert depth here) deep, and it’s (insert some indicator of severity, like bleeding or suchlike here), so why can’t you tell me if it needs to be stitched?”

She finally had had her fill of his idiocy. “Sir, what color blouse am I wearing?”

“How the hell would I know what color blouse you are wearing?”

“So, how am I supposed to have any opinion worth anything about your cut?”

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

“The Gun Show Loophole!”

One year, my (very successful) brother rented a house in Some Blue Hive State, so his family could summer there. I received an invitation, that should I wrangle the time off of work, and my own transportation, I’d have a spot to stay and join in the merriment.

TDW was interested, and so I arranged vacation, and purchased plane tickets. One car rental later, and we were off!

My brother is an alumnus of an Eastern Sophisticated University, and, therefore, all of his college buddies are, as well. That trends towards them also being of the Blue Hive Borg, where, evidently, “assimilation is Mandatory!”

All these fellows are attorneys, and, generally, pretty smart. No surprise there, right? So, one evening, after consumption of Tax Stamped Beverages, well, one guy (let’s call him Bob, “not-his-real-name”) overheard The Darling Wife regaling me with her recent visit to an Unnamed Flyover State Gun Show, wherein she had purchased an AR pattern rifle, in 6.8 Rem Special. Good News: She was very excited at her selection, describing her new rifle as “Pretty!”. Bad news: Have you PRICED 6.8 Rem Spl ammo lately? Holy Stool, that is expensive ammunition. Not as pricey as H & H .375, or .416 Rigby, I’ll grant you, but pretty spendy against sixty-cent-a-round .223 ammo.

So, Bob told us what his thoughts about that were. That is, if you could characterize him as “thinking” on that subject. “Man, they ought outlaw gun shows! That gun show loophole is awful!”

I know a thing or two about guns, as does The Darling Wife. She had, after all, just the preceding month gone to a gun show, and purchased a rifle. Indeed, in terms of contemporaneous experience based knowledge, she might qualify, within the confines of that house, as a subject matter expert.

Therefore, I asked Bob, “Oh, really? What is the ‘gun show loophole’, and what is the most objectionable part of it, in your view?”

He apparently was not one to let ignorance of the subject get in the way of a good opportunity to let his “woke” flag fly. “Why, it shouldn’t be allowed that simply anyone can just walk right in to a gun show, and just buy any sort of gun that they want, and then just walk right out!”

“Say what?”

He was gonna repeat himself. “Any sort of drunken lout, or mental defective, or terrorist, or mass shooter, can just walk into any gun show, buy any sort of mass murder machine that they want, and waltz out! No background check, no permit, no nothing!”

I turned to My Darling Bride, and said, “Honey, didn’t you just buy a rifle at a gun show a couple of weeks ago? Why don’t you tell Bob, here, how that worked?”

She smiled sweetly at me, and turned to Bob. “Well, I paid my admission, I walked the aisles until I found that rifle. It looked so pretty, I thought that it ought to be my first AR. I negotiated a rice with the seller. He then needed my picture ID, as well as my concealed carry license. He called the National Instant Check System with my information, and got an approval. He recorded the approval serial number, and then I had to complete a form 4473 before we could complete the sale.”

I invited her to be more detailed in her tutorial for Bob. “So, Honey, what’s a ‘Form 4473’?”

“Well, it is a sworn statement, under penalties of both perjury as well as violation of the federal Gun Control Act, that I’m not a felon, fugitive from justice, mentally ill, an illegal alien, have never been convicted of a crime of domestic violence. There’s a couple of other reasons that I could be disqualified, but they are all listed right there on the form. No sale can move forward without that form.”

Bob could not contain his superior expertise any longer. “That’s just wrong! None of that is required!”

I turned to him. “Really? Why don’t you tell us how it went, the last time YOU purchased a gun at a gun show?”

He looked at me, surprised. “I have never bought any sort of gun, ever! I do not own a gun!”

I feigned surprise. “Really? So, just how did you come by your expertise regarding how things really happen in a gun show, such as to contradict my wife’s recent, personal experience in a gun show? Buying a gun, no less?”

“I read it in the New York Times! They said that’s how it works!”

I looked at my wife, and she at me. I continued. “So, let me see if I heard you correctly. You have never bought any gun, ever, anywhere. You read some bullshit in the New York Times, and that is canonical, for some reason. Based on some perhaps third, maybe fourth hand story, that you think you remember reading, in that noted journal of all things firearms, The New York Times, you are in a solid position to tell my adult wife, sitting right here, that things that she, in fact, and in her own direct testimony actually, really, and recently experienced, did not actually experience. Now, that means that you are either telling me my wife will lie, smiling all the while, to your face, or she is so stupid or mentally defective that she cannot tell what she actually did, at a gun show, buying a gun. Now, mind you, she successfully passed the training to qualify for, and the background check to be issued, a license to carry a concealed handgun from The Un-Named Flyover State. So, pray tell, on what basis does your superior intellect and greater knowledge in All Things Gun, lead you to accuse my wife of imbecility, or lying to your face? Please, go slowly, and show your work!”

At this point, Bob had the wit to stammer, and not answer my questions. My brother, wisely, diverted my attention with some query of firearms law esoterica.

So, therefore, I did not break a stein over Bob’s head.

Although, I still wonder if it might have improved either his manners, or his intellect. Or, perhaps, both.

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



I had seen a soul for some malady or another, and had prescribed an antibiotic. In keeping with our usual practice, I had e-prescribed this medication, sending it off to the pharmacy the patient had identified as his preference.

An hour or so later, the receptionist received a phone call FROM THE PATIENT, asserting that the medication was not covered by his insurance.

I receive these calls frequently. Simply so that you know, the mere fact that any particular medication had been covered by one or another of the hundreds and hundreds of different health insurance plans that are out there, by no means establishes that this medication will be subsidized, today. In addition, each individual health insurance plan has it’s own “formulary”, or list of what medications it will subsidize, and to what extent. These formularies differ from Medicare (and among different medicare plans, as well), to Medicaid (and, again, among various flavors of Medicaid), to assorted flavors of private health insurance. Again, formularies vary from one private insurance plan (say, one particular form of Humana insurance), to another (like, one of the insurance products from Blue Cross).

Therefore, it is not uncommon for these calls to come in. Generally, they are from the pharmacist. Then, the pharmacist, who has access to the insurance company’s formulary, can suggest another similar medication that will be subsidized. I will request it, and we all go on about out lives.

When they originate from the patient, it becomes somewhat of a time sink. What, am I gonna tell the patient what the new medication will be, and the dosing regimen, how many doses to dispense, and so forth, so that the patient can communicate this to the pharmacist? (anybody ever hear about, ya know, PRESCRIPTIONS?)

Occasionally, when I have some sort of wild hair up my ass, I am tempted, briefly, to do just that. “Why, thank you for the call, Mr. X! Please tell the pharmacist that I am changing your prescription from Amoxicillin, and instead I will prescribe Mofeen, one pound, and you are to take ad lib and prn until the heat death of the universe! And, you have a nice day!”

My filter has,thus far, worked without fail. I have never told anybody that…out loud.

Instead, what I do, indeed, say, out loud, is “Please invite the pharmacist to phone me, and he and I can discuss it.”

The Second:

I had occasion to phone another physician’s office, in order to have my patient seen that very day. I generally make this sort of call myself, when I need a same day appointment for my patient, because I can either explain all the particulars of the scenario to my MA, who can then repeat it to the other office’s MA, and then have her seek me out when, inevitably, there is some question that I have failed to explain in sufficient detail, or I can do it myself, explaining things once.

I vote for “Once!”

So, TINS©, TIWFDASL©, and on hold/ignore. Eventually, the other office’s scheduler came on the line, and we had our lovely little conversation about my patient’s malady, and why I felt the burning need that this soul be seen TODAY!

Everything proceeded swimmingly, and I noted the time and address of the particular office my patient was to report to. The scheduler asked my name.

“Reltney McFee, PA.”

“How do you spell that?”

“R-E-L-T-N-E-Y, M-C-F-E-E.”

She read back her note: “R-I-A-L-D-M-A-I, M-A-K-A-S-E-E?”

I had not really slept all that well the previous night, and had several people in the waiting room, eagerly awaiting (DYSWIDT?) my attention, so that they could get on with their own days. I quickly calculated that I could get this chucklehead to properly spell my name on the scrap of paper that she would soon discard, or get this patient the hell out of my department, and on to Higher Level Of Care, sooner.

I (unsurprisingly, I wager) went with option “B”.

“Nailed it!”

The Third Random Thought:

My home state, The UnNamed Flyover State, legalized marijuana last year, for recreational purposes. I have spoken, previously, about my rapture at this development. While I have not, completely, cataloged every single way in which I think that this is a fail of epic proportions, perhaps I have revealed just a little bit of my lack of enthusiasm for this development.

A couple of times.

I have noticed in recent months the phenomenon of idiots (er, I MEAN, children of God) evidently wandering through the world stoned. I reached this conclusion because of the numerous folks who stop by my clinic reeking of reefer fumes.

I do not mean, “Hey! If I pay attention, I can detect a waft of a smell, as if of marijuana, somewhere about this person!” Nay, I mean “Dude! Are Cheech and Chong shooting another movie hereabouts?”, or, perhaps, “Is there some sort of Rastafarian festival in town?”

Indeed, occasionally the smoke is eye wateringly intense, yet the purveyors of the fumes appear unaware of the air quality hazard that they present.

I have wondered about that. I suspect one of two things is in operation here. Either they are so stupid, either at baseline, or due to the deleterious effects of marijuana upon their mentation, (maybe, I should embrace the power of “and!”?) that they simply cannot realize what they are spreading in their wake, or else it is some sort of pheromone, at least in their minds, that attracts The Opposite Sex.

Although, to be honest, anybody who would be attracted by the olfactory cues these folks present, I would not romance with your johnston!

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

Insurance Companies and Purgatory

So, over the holidays, we were at a family gathering when TDW-Mark II’s niece (an adult) departed to go home.

Shortly thereafter she returned to inform us that, due to the poor lighting and TDW-Mark II’s petite vehicle, she, the niece, had inadvertently struck my wife’s vehicle, leaving a dent.

BFD, bent metal, no bent people, all good.

So, we went to our insurance company in order to get the bent sheet metal, unbent. We could, indeed, have our insurance pay for it, since our vehicle was parked, BUT!, we’d have a chargeable accident and likely would see our insurance premiums rise. From the currently affordable, reasonable, “Give us all the money and nobody has to get hurt!” levels we currently enjoy, that is.

THAT sounds attractive!

Or, our niece’s insurance company could foot the bill.

The niece made her report to her insurer, and shortly thereafter I had a conversation with one of their genius, script reading (Thanks, Beans on June 3 ’19), slack jawed, pompous personnel.

It seems that, let us call it “County Garden Auto Insurance”, requires that you take your broken vehicle to one of their adjusters for an estimate. In this area, the freaking capitol of the freaking Un-Named Midwestern State, the (insert pejorative here) adjuster only works freaking Wednesdays, and, into the bargain, Young Ms. Mensa informed me that, since mine is the name on the title, well, I would have to show my happy hairy ass up with the bent vehicle for the estimate.

Well, ya know, I work Wednesdays. 12 hours. Days. I told Ms. Mensa as much. “Ma’am, I will not be attending this estimate. I’m working, my wife will be there acting as my agent.”

“Reltney”, she replied (and, as an aside, I had been previously unaware that she and I were quite that chummy), “You have to be there, since the vehicle in titled in your name.”

“Well, Ma’am, I’ll be working, and so my wife will be there with the vehicle.”

“Reltney, you have to be there!”

“Ma’am, I will not be there. My wife will be acting as my agent.”

“Reltney, you have to be there for the estimate!”

“Ma’am, perhaps you should write this down. My wife will be there, I will not. She will act as my agent, and I will be working.”

“Reltney, if you are going to be hostile, I cannot continue to talk to you. I’m simply trying to tell you how this process goes.”

“That’s fine. So, tell me my options.”

“Sir, it you are going to be hostile, you will have to talk to another agent!”

(My thought, at that point, was along the lines of, “Sugar, if you think that I have been hostile, you really, really have a severe poverty of life experience, that, should you desire, I can remedy!” A thought that went unspoken.)

“Ma’am, I thought you were going to tell me what my options would be? I’m waiting for that information.”

“Please hold!”

(lengthy hold)

“Reltney, your wife can meet with our estimator, but we cannot hand her the check. Can we mail it to you, or to your selected body shop?”

“That will be satisfactory. Mail it to the shop.”

“So, Reltney, what arrangements would you like to make for a rental?”

“Ma’am, we have made satisfactory arrangements for a loaner with our body shop. I suggest that you phone them, and have that conversation with them.”

“I do not understand what you just said, Reltney.”

“Call my shop, you have the name. Talk to Bob. Tell him what you just told me about a rental. Make whatever arrangements you wish with Bob about a rental. Bob will fill me in. “

“Reltney, I do not understand that, but I will notate it in our file.”

(Correctly, I hope, but do not trust…)

“Outstanding. Anything else?”

“No, Reltney, have a nice day.”

And the call ended.

Perhaps, the anticipated cluster…er, hug (HUG! Yeah, THAT’S the ticket!) will provide fodder for a subsequent blog post.

My take home lesson, here, is that there are jobs for the dull witted, and I am fated to spend my time corresponding with them.

Damn it!

Fun And Games Off Duty · guns · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact · Pre Planning Your Scene · Protect and Serve

Camping with my family

One Labor Day weekend, TDW-Mk I decided we ought to go camping. I was off, the kids were off, and we could all get out for one more weekend before the grind of school and autumn activities sucked us in.

She had reserved a site in the unimproved area of one of the northern state parks, a “rustic’ site. That meant that we got to carry water from one of several faucets serving the campgrounds, as well as go to the bathroom in one of several pit toilets.

The wimmin folk were not favorably impressed.

We were the only ones in our section of the campground as we pulled in, which was of no concern to us. We set up our pop up camper, cooked dinner, cleaned up, and took a walk.

Once we were back at out site, we were inside the camper, organizing for bed time when another party arrived at a site, 2 or 3 away from our own. They were young-ish, and seemed high spirited. Whatever, live and let live.

So, several hours later, TDW and I were chatting quietly, when the noise from the neighbor site picked up considerably. I peeked from our window, and noted what appeared to be bottles of some sort of alcohol in hand, and our “neighbors” sounded to be involved in some sort of loud, animated, an not altogether amicable discussion.

When we heard the sounds of yelling, and breaking glass, I awakened the kids and had them lay on the floor of the camper. TDW called county dispatch on her cell phone, and I settled in next to the door of the camper, curtain ajar and Colt in hand.

One of the party, it appeared, felt the need to do some sort of work on the mirror of one of the trucks, and this seemed to involve attempting to wrench the mirror off of the door without using any tools. That maneuver elicited yet MORE heated words, and things were escalating, which made it convenient that that was the moment that the park ranger, a couple of sheriff’s vehicles, and a city cop arrived.

One of the officers approached out camper, and I took that opportunity to secure the pistol beneath one of the mattresses, seating TDW thereon.

I told the officer what I had heard, and seen, and he assured me that for this party, their camping weekend was over. “We’ll simply sit here, and watch them pack up and depart. We’ll circulate through several times over the rest of the night, and, if they return, they’ll sleep in the sheriff’s office. In the back.”

Then he added, “If you need us, call us back. Have a nice weekend!”

Fun With Suits! · Life in Da City! · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact

Accident Letter

So, TINS, TIWFDASL, and responding to some sort of emergency or other. It was my day to drive, and I was merrily coding along. Approaching The Major North Bound Thoroughfare as I headed west bound, light and siren flashing and a-wailing, I slowed and observed cross traffic (who had the green light), stop on the rain slicked street.

That appeared encouraging. I began to accelerate through the intersection, when, lo and behold!, I beheld a driver swing into the center lane, pass all the stopped traffic, and proceed to strike the ambulance aft of the driver side dual rear wheels.

He had built up to fair clip, because he rocked the modular ambulance pretty good. Indeed, given my own momentum, the aft of the rig slewed to the right, and we entered a skid.

I corrected, steering into the skid, and noted in passing a pedestrian on the northwest corner determine that he did NOT want to remain standing where it appeared I was going to roll over, and so he started stepping lively toward the south.

Remember that “I corrected my skid” thing? Yeah, about that. It turns out that correcting a skid, in a, oh, let’s guess 5 ton truck, is not a fact, it is a process. So, when I had corrected our slewing-sideways-towards-the-northeast skid, we NOW had a slewing-sideways-towards-the-west-southwest skid. Less off axis, so there was that as an improvement, but our friend the pedestrian (remember him?), last seen high stepping to the south, did not think much of this as it portended his own immediate future. He demonstrated this understanding, as well as outstanding situational awareness, as he skidded to his own stop, about faced, and accelerated north.

I had noticed that we were skidding kinda sideways, in a west-southwesterly direction, and so, once again, I corrected, steering into the skid. Once that had been accomplished, we were merely proceeding catty-wampus, in a more or less northwesterly direction, and, it appeared, tracking our poor increasingly frazzled pedestrian friend as if we were a pedestrian seeking missile. With target lock.

Fortunately on several levels, all these gyrations had bled off considerable speed, and I was able to come to a complete, and rather abrupt, stop, short of squashing the pedestrian.

My partners were uninjured, as we had vicariously experienced many, many motor vehicle collisions, and had scant desire to recreate the experimental results we had witnessed. We were all buckled up.

While I was attempting to determine if my SVT (supraventricular tachycardia: an accelerated heart rate running around 150-200 beats per minute) was self limiting, or my new normal, Doug figured that (a) we were not completing this run, and (b) this might be a nice thing to share with dispatch. He did so.

We checked the other driver (who was fine), and awaited the police, city wrecker, and the inevitable chat with The Lieutenant. Fun times ahead, indeed.

The officer taking the report only had about 7,000 questions, and, once he was done, dropped us off at apparatus. There, we got to switch from our rig, into a back up rig. Back up rigs were too rickety to be in front line service, but not so obviously rattletraps that they could not serve as interim ambulances until our rig was repaired. Which in our case was likely to be sometime around the heat death of the universe.

We returned to quarters (with Doug driving!), where we awaited Lt. Evans. Once he had arrived, he directed me to write a letter (standard practice) detailing the events that had led up to our nice new truck getting bent up.

At this point I was the union’s chief steward, and was familiar with the contract. One of the provisions thereof was that any member, facing potential discipline, had the right to consult with a steward prior to making any official statement. I figured that, hashing this out with another steward might allow me to avoid talking myself into (harsher) charges (than I already faced for the collision).

Another peculiarity of Da City’s system, was that it appeared that the algorithm for assessing fault ran as follows. (each yes answer advanced you one more round) “Were you driving?” (Y/N) “Were you driving a city vehicle?” (Y/N) “Was that vehicle involved in a collision of any sort?” (Y/N)


No shit: on one call, I had parked the ambulance in the street, four way flashers flashing, beacons in operation, I and my partner were IN THE REAR OF THE AMBULANCE, when some jackhole decided that, as IMPORTANT as he obviously was, he could not wait for us to roll off, and had to depart NOW! In the course of snaking his way out of the parking spot right next to us, he nudged the ambulance bumper, causing the vehicle to rock on it’s springs.

Like a dummy, I reported it. To my astonishment, it took the Accident Review Board SIX FREAKING WEEKS to ascertain that I was NOT at fault.

So, with these lessons in mind, I was reluctant to make any sort of official statement without at least having another steward tell me I was doing it wrong. I said so the Lt. Evans, and said, “So, sir, I officially request that I be allowed to speak with a steward prior to making an official statement, as guaranteed in our contract.”

He gave me the stink eye. “You’re the chief steward, right?”

“Yes, sir.”

“So, go chat with yourself , and write my damned letter. Now would be good.”

“Uh, sir…?” I began.

“Mr. McFee, I am making that an order. Do so, at once!”

“Yes, sir!”

I therefore drew up a piece of Fire Department letterhead, and composed the following letter:

“TO: Superintendent of EMS

From: Reltney McFee, EMT

Subject: Collision involving Medic 23 this date

Date (date)

Sir: Lt. Evans ordered me to write a letter regarding Medic 23’s collision this date. I requested the opportunity to speak with a union steward prior to making any official statement, and Lt. Evans ordered me to write you a letter at once.

This is that letter.

Respectfully, Reltney McFee EMT, Medic 23”

I pulled it out of the typewriter, placed my carbon copy in the desk, and handed it to Lt. Evans. “Here’s your letter, Lieutenant!”

He looked at it for a minute, and glared at me. “McFee, this is unsatisfactory. Write this letter, all over again, and this time do it right!”

“Yes, sir!”

I assembled another set of letterhead and carbon paper, and captioned the next letter as before.

My opening line was as above. I asked the Lieutenant, “Sir? What do you want me to write now?”

He said, “McFee, I’m not going to tell you what to write!”

I typed in, “Lt Evans told me to write, “ ‘McFee, I’m not going to tell you what to write!’ “

“What’s next, sir?”

“Goddammit! Stop that! Just write what happened in your accident!”

My next line of text was, “ ‘Goddammit! Stop that! Just write what happened in your accident!’ “

“Yes, sir? What is next?”

He glared at me. Again. “McFee, get up from that chair. Do not type another word!”

I stood. He asked me, “McFee, what do you think you are doing.”

“Well, sir, you ordered me to write a letter about an accident prior to my having the opportunity to speak to a steward about a matter that might result in my being disciplined. I complied with that order, and wrote a letter citing everything that I was willing to say at this moment. You did not find that satisfactory, and ordered me to re do it. I was rewriting it to your specification, when you abruptly stopped providing me directions. Sir.”

Again, with the glare. “It is now 1300 hours. You will have that letter, and I mean the letter that you KNOW you have to write, in my hands no later than 1700 hours today, without fail! Am I making my self clear?”

“Perfectly, sir!”

He stormed out.

I got his letter to him, after a phone consult with another steward.

Oh, yes, And I got a written reprimand for my role in the collision.

Fun And Games Off Duty

Things You See on Road Trips!

In late 1989, I had applied for a job as a nursing supervisor in a little hospital Up North. As is customary in such conversations, they wanted me to meet for an in person interview. The drive from Da City, to the new place was on the order of three hours, and I did not see how arising at around oh-dark-thirty, bathing etcetera, dressing in my interview clothes, and then driving for three hours, all so I could be on time for an 0900 interview, was calculated for success.

So, I drove up the preceding evening, and secured a motel room for the night. On my happy way there, I drove, fat, dumb, and happy, casually listening to my CB radio. (for, these were the fabled Eighties, when CB radio was A Thing!)

As I motored along the interstate, somewhere kinda north of Bay City, I heard, briefly, the declamation invoking The Patron Saint of Regularity: “Holy Shit!”

That successfully snapped me out of my reverie. I slowed, moved into the right lane, and picked up the microphone and invited my corespondent to elaborate. “Station calling, what is happening?”

Several similar entreaties elicited no more information, I resolved to Pay More Attention.

Doing so, paid off shortly, as I beheld headlights of southbound traffic. This was unsurprising, as that interstate is kind of a major north-south artery.

What became surprising, was the insight that this particular southbound car, WAS IN THE FREAKING NORTHBOUND LANE!

That was startling, right there! Fortunately, after a manner of speaking, this vehicle was staying to his right, traveling southbound in the high speed lane of the northbound highway. He flashed past me, and I continued my deliberate, frazzled, way north.

Fun And Games · Life in Da City!

Suburban Community Hospital (or) Be Careful What You Ask For!

Another time, with dispatch whimsically sending us on a scavenger hunt all over Da East Side of Da City, we had occasion to transport sumdood to Suburban Community Hospital. This was a fairly sizable establishment, even by the standards of the day, and the ED was pretty busy upon our arrival.

We handed Mr. Dood over to the nurses, gave report, and began to prep the cot for the next lucky contestant. One of the nurses ambled over, and engaged us in conversation.

“How come you guys only bring us drunks? We can handle anything TBTCIDC can handle!”

Doug spoke up. “Uh, Ma’am? That’s kind of the majority of what we bring to TBTCIDC, ya know? Most of our runs are sick folks and drunk folks.”

She wasn’t gonna let this go. “Aw, c’mon! How come we never get any good trauma! I know you guys take all the trauma to TBTCIDC! Howzabout occasionally bringing us some of the stuff you always are taking to TBTCIDC?”

We mumbled something that maybe could have been taken as assent, and she meandered off to fight disease and save lives, or something.

As Kharma sometimes deigns, our next run was not too far from Suburban Community Hospital. Indeed, the Grin of Kharma must have been epically large, as the next call was for a very drunk, very loud, very combative inebriate.

Once we had him restrained and in the truck, we conferred. Consensus was, we were about to return to Suburban Community Hospital. After all, they had ASSURED us that they could handle ANYTHING that TBTCIDC could handle.

Well, to paraphrase Bill Engvall, “Heeerrreee’s yer patient!”

When the nurses began to chastise us about our patient selection, as well as our destination selection, our refrain was, “Well, you told us that you were perfectly capable of handling anything TBTCIDC could handle! This fine young man, right here, is completely typical of their patient population!”

And, then we scurried away……