Fun And Games Off Duty · guns · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Life in Da City! · Pre Planning Your Scene · Sometimes You Get to Think That You Have Accomplished Something!

SNIPPETS V

STORY THE FIRST

So, TINS, TIWFDASL, just a couple of weeks ago, and, as I entered the room, I was greeted by the younger of the two women seated in the exam room. “There he is! You saved my mother’s life!”

While that certainly was a welcome greeting, I admitted that I was confused. The younger woman, evidently the daughter, filled in the missing pieces. Several weeks previously, she (the narrator) had accompanied her mother (the other soul in the room while we conversed) to a visit to our clinic. She (the mother) had been having a cough of some sort, and I had felt that something in the experience did not sound right. After some assessment in clinic, I had sent the mother to ED, and those worthies had identified a 100% occlusion of one of mom’s coronary arteries (the arteries feeding the heart). Mother had received a stent, and been sent home, and was still among us. Indeed, she was here, today, due to another cough.

Thankfully, today’s cough appeared uncomplicated, and I recommended my usual measures to ameliorate the post nasal drip that seemed to be the source of the cough.

Sometimes I get to think that I really do, from time to time, positively impact people’s lives. That’s nice to think.

STORY, THE SECOND.

Just the other day, I was shopping. Such is the life of a life saving, disease fighting, internet blogging champion (of sorts). As it develops, I am middling tall: 5-7 or so. It turns out that the pasta I was hunting for was on the top shelf, and several other people had purchased some, before me. THAT meant that I could just barely not reach the boxes. I had just realized that I, a tool using animal, could open my knife and extend my reach, tipping over the needed number of boxes, and add same to my cart. That is, I had just realized it, when a gentleman, taller than I, reached up, grabbed a box, and handed it to me, asking me if I needed more.

I requested two more, and thanked him, moving forward with my shopping.

A few aisles over I observed a woman attempting to retrieve an item from a shelf beyond her reach. Before I could respond, another (taller) gentleman stepped up, retrieved the sought item, and handed it to her.

Everyday, plain folks, acts of civility and kindness.

STORY, THE THIRD

We visited my wife’s sister, and her husband, recently. They live in rural Kentucky, and it is rather a change from their previous neighborhood in Metropolis. Indeed, it is a considerable change from my table-flat neighborhood of Un-Named Flyover State.

We arrived, following the directions provided, and noted that the terrain was, well, “hilly” does not really do it justice. As a consequence of that terrain, roadways tend to meander, circling around this hill, or weaving their way up to, over, and down that ridge.

We had spent something like 45 minutes meandering , as the road took us up in elevation, when I noted a sign ahead, announcing “Curves Ahead!”.

I turned to TDW-Mark II, and exclaimed, “Wait, what? THAT was the STRAIGHT part?”

STORY, THE FOURTH: OOPS!

So, TINS, TIWFDASL, and, well, things had come to a slow down. I was working with a physician, on this day at this clinic, and she had never handled an adrenalin autoinjector. We had one handy, and I handed it to her so she could examine it.

I was not quite quick enough, to admonish her to not remove the guard, nor to handle the trigger, on the one end of the device. Therefore, she did, successfully, remove the cap, and then trigger it, sending the needle into one of her fingers, along with some of the adrenalin therein.

The Good News was that, since she was youthful, she promptly withdrew her hand, and therefore only received a fractional dose. The bad news is that adrenalin is a very, very powerful vasoconstrictor, and therefore her affected finger became very, very white, and also burned. Oh, yes, it burned. I cast about, wondering if we had any phentolamine. (an alpha blocker: used to reverse the effects of, among others, adrenalin, when injected into an end capillary bed, Like you would find in your fingers.) Since ours was not an ICU, nor an ED, we did not have phentolamine, nor anything that would serve.

The good news, such as it was, is that due to her youthful age, good health habits (spelled n-o-t s-m-o-k-i-n-g) and the fractional dose of adrenalin she had received, well, after around 20 minutes, her finger regained it’s color, the burning pain faded, and she returned to normal, simply just a bit more shaky than previously.

Subsequently, I obtained, and CONSPICUOUSLY labeled a trainer, specifically intended to harmlessly teach folks how to handle and operate an adrenalin autoinjector. This one has no needle, and no drug.

STORY, THE FIFTH

So, TINS, TIWFDASL….well, okay. I was NOT FDASL, rather, I was off, and, having accomplished all my chores (or, such fraction of “all my chores” as I was going to accomplish that day), my step son (son of TDW-Mark II) called. I had spoken to him about a range day, and he was off work that day, I was off work that day, and it was off to the range we went.

I took my Garand, my .380 pistol, and my 9 mm pistol. Of course, I grabbed the ammo can labeled 30-06 (for the Garand), .380 (surprisingly enough, for the pistol in caliber .380), and the ammo can labeled “9 mm” for, no doubt surprising, the 9 mm pistol.

Now, recall that I have been an RN for, lo, these many yeas. That I have passed uncounted thousands upon thousands of doses of medications, and double checked myself each time, so as to accomplish the “5 rights” of med pass: right patient, right drug, right dose, right route, and at the proper time. This was effected by reading the order, the med container, comparing each with the other, and then, DOING SO AGAIN.

So, we arrived at the range, uncased the Garand, and set up targets. Several dozen rounds later, we placed the rifle in the case, put the ammunition away, and took out the .380 pistol. Fun times.

When it came time to take out, and shoot, the 9 mm pistol, well, I went to the “9 mm” ammo can, opened it, and beheld something like 200 rounds of RIFLE AMMUNITION.

For those in the studio audience who are unfamiliar with Things Firearm, well, 9 mm is a pistol round, and rifle rounds are (a) the wrong size overall, (b) with the wrong projectile (bullet), propelled by (c) an entirely wrong charge of powder, leading to (d) entirely way, way more pressure once the cartridge is set off, for any common pistol to contain, meaning (e) should, somehow, a rifle cartridge be forced into the pistol that I had before me, anyone firing it, should they survive the resulting explosion, would forever after be known as “Lefty”.

Not mentioning the emotional distress I would experience should this pistol, one of my favorites, be reduced to shrapnel.

Sigh. It appears that I had horribly failed the ammunition labeling process, leading to jovial kidding from my step son. Other than that, a good day at the range.

And, the ammunition got re-(and correctly)-labeled.

cats · Fun And Games Off Duty · Life in Da City!

SNIPPETS PART IV

I hope that nobody is surprised to learn that, since The Un-Named Fly-Over State is in the northern tier of states, it snows here in the winter (And the fall. And the spring.) That has been the case for certainly the past nearly 70 years that I have been here. Therefore I would hope that my neighbors would have figured that shit out, by now.

On the other hand, there is abundant evidence that my hope in this matter is misplaced.

So, TINS, TIWFDASL…well, OK, I was driving in to work one snowy winter day in order to begin my day of FDASL. I was listening to the amateur radio in my vehicle, and monitoring the county’s fire department dispatch. No ill tidings from that front.

I did notice a car off the road, into the ditch, but I figured that the county deputy already on the scene had things well in hand.

So, there I was, listening to the FM radio, and waiting for any alarming traffic on the HAM radio, when I saw this guy, no shit, skate his compact pickup truck completely across the 3 lanes of expressway traffic, having apparently originated from the on ramp. My guess was that he had entered the ramp at speed that was excessive for the conditions. (did I mention that it had snowed the preceding night? Well, it had. Likely had something to do with the other guy in the ditch.)

Anyhow, once he reached the median shoulder, he started to wifferdill his way along that shoulder, inching his way into the median’s ditch. He did manage to stay upright, so, that was nice…..

The thought crossed my mind, “coefficient of friction: words to live by!”

@@@Snippet The Second@@@

You may recall my tales of cat-herding (Farming? Wrangling?). In any event, one of the cats had a recurring conjunctivitis, such that our local vet voiced concern regarding the potential of a ruptured globe (eyeball breach, with vision-destroying loss of the fluid-vitreous and aqueous humor that is within the eyeball), versus a vision damaging occurrence of scars on the (supposed to be) clear portion of the eyeball.

So, we arranged an appointment with a veterinary ophthalmologist.

Of course, this doctor practiced in an office something like three counties over from our home. Of course, on the appointed day, it was a balmy 33 degrees (f), and could not decide to snow, rain, sleet, or what.

Fun times.

I learned on this trip, that driving Trixie T. Cat anywhere, was very much akin to driving your small, furry, outspoken, elderly, mother-in-law somewhere. I was the recipient of a running series of corrections, spoken (of course) in Cat, that likely would have sounded like “You’re driving too fast!”, “You’re driving too slow!”, “Why can’t you stay in one lane?” (this as I signaled, eased over into the -clear-adjacent lane, and in the course of doing so, ran over the ridge of slush built up between the lanes. So the truck jerked.), “Why aren’t we there yet?”, and the ever popular, “Where the hell are you taking me? I don’t want to go there! Let me out of this damned cat carrier!”

That is, would have sounded like that, if I spoke Cat.

As you might imagine, first off, back seat driving is oh, so very welcome at any time at all. Secondly, such corrections are even more welcome when the driving is, oh, gosh, I dunno, HAZARDOUS! Thirdly, let me take a moment to congratulate TDW-Mark II. She successfully suppressed her baseline impulses to shriek, gasp, or otherwise demonstrate her appreciation of her/our impending DOOM! Probably figured that the cat had that well covered.

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

Your View, Is *NOT* The Entirety of The World

So, TINS©, TIWFDASL©, alone as my midlevel walk in clinic shift started. We were supposed to have two of us from opening, but, well, some of us are renowned for strolling in something on the order of 30 minutes late. In addition, there was a third provider slated to come in around 2 hours after opening, and work til close.

To start off with, I had a 5 pack of kids. Well behaved kids (Thanks be to Crom!), but, five at a time nonetheless. All in one room, so, of course, it appeared to whoever else had decided to start their day with a visit to the walk in clinic that I was taking something over an hour with one patient.

One such soul opened her exam room door, around 40 minutes after we had opened our doors for the day, and while I was on Number 3 of 5 in the 5 pack, and asked “how much longer?”

I was charting, and replied, “20-30 minutes”.

She asked, “How come?”, and the MA explained “there are 5 in front of you.”

The questioning patient was surprised. “How can that be? There was nobody here when I arrived!”

The MA answered “I had already roomed them when you had arrived”.

“That’s crazy!” observed the impatient patient.

I was kind of busy. My response was “Yep.”

Fun And Games · Life in Da City! · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact

My FAVORITE! Things

My FAVORITE! Things

@ When, as part of my assay of History of Present Illness, I ask you how long you have had your (cough, or whatever other symptom motivated you to march you happy butt into my clinic), please, Please, PLEASE do NOT!!! say “a good little while”, or something similarly non responsive to my question. I will simply repeat my question, using the same words, and the same pleasant, inquiring tone, over and over, until you do, indeed, tell me “2 hours” or “2 days’ or “2 weeks” or “2 months” or “2 years”. Simply so you know, IDGAF how long you have had this symptom, on the other hand, it does have some implications for what plan of care I ought to consider in order to, ya know, actually benefit you.

@ Similarly, for the love of Crom, do NOT tell me, in response to my question, “What have you done for (your symptom)?”, that you have “taken over the counter”. Should any of you in “the studio audience” desire to understand just how unhelpful this is, please spend a few minutes on only one freaking aisle of any drug store you wish, and attempt to catalog the dozens of freaking allergy meds therein. By way of illustration, if you have used a nasal steroid, that would be helpful for me to know, since, should that have been unhelpful, I will be required to up my game.

If OTOH, you simply took The Multi Symptom Dreck You Saw Advertised On The TeeWee Last Night, well, I can then recommend some, oh, gee, I dunno…EFFECTIVE OTC medications, instead.

@ I love it when Joe-Bob goes to (St. Elsewhere) yesterday, does NOT pick up his prescribed medications, and swings by my clinic. Because “I’m not any better”.

@ When I direct you to call your family doctor and arrange followup, and you reply, “They always tell me to go to walk in!”

So, you’re telling me that WALK IN prescribes your blood pressure meds, your psych meds, as well as your diabetic meds?

All this is news to me.

@ When I ask, as my review of symptoms, “Have you felt as if you had a fever?”, and you reply, “I don’t have a thermometer”. (how did folks FEEL feverish, before the invention of the precise thermometer by Farenheit in 1714?) Or, alternately, “your nurse just took my temperature, and said I do not have a fever.” (which, of course [a] I already freaking knew, having reviewed the vitals and nursing notes before I walked in the door, as well as [b] NOT answering my freaking question!)

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

Random Thoughts, Part VII

EROTIC STORY SITES ON THE WEB, ARE *NOT* GOOD SOURCES FOR ADVICE ON HOW TO LIVE YOUR LIFE.

A young lady came in to the clinic, and related that her visit today was occasioned by the fact that “My girlfriend’s boyfriend told her that he had (GC/chlamydia/herpes/syphilis/aids/hepatitis/the fuglies), and I slept with him, too.”

I was unclear on the timeline. “*After* you knew?”

She was not. “Yep!”

Sigh. Another round of “test for everything”, and pray that it all comes back negative.

LET’S FOCUS ON THE IMMEDIATE PROBLEM, SHALL WE?

So, TINS© (This Is No Shit), TIWFDASL© (There I Was, Fighting Disease And Saving Lives), and Jim Bob wandered in. In the course of his registration, as well as his rooming, he revealed difficulties voiding. Indeed, my MA related that, once she had requested that he provide a sample of urine so that I might use it to determine what sort of “urine problem” he had, he responded that “I can’t pee”.

In my clinic, there is no catheterization capability. In my not inconsiderable emergency experience, both as RN as well as provider, such a soul requires a catheter, both in order to obtain the urine sample that will guide further care, as well as to decompress the ailing soul’s urinary bladder, as such a condition can become very uncomfortable. Which ignores potential damage to one’s kidneys.

I told my MA that Mr. Cannotpee would have to go to emergency, where, indeed, they had both the ability to place a catheter, as well as labs and imaging to determine what might have caused this problem.

She returned moments later, reporting that he had considered the prospect of a urinary catheter, and thought that he might be maybe able to produce a little bit of urine, perhaps.

His sample was inconsistent with inability to urinate. My appraisal was that IDGAF about this guy’s pharmacologic mis-steps. His stupid life choices that might be revealed by a urine drug screen, a screen that I had no interest in performing let alone contemplating the results of, were his kharma and would impact his life.

And, good luck with that!

LIGHTING UP MY LIFE

Another day, another Child of Ghawd. Soul reports a rash, kinda-sorta itchy, started here, now here, and here, and here. No exposure to suspect plants, no new cosmetics/detergents/soaps/shampoos.

There is a thing, known as a “Wood’s Lamp”, which produces light in the near-UV portion of the spectrum, accompanied by some visible violet (surprising enough!) light. Some itchy rashes will fluoresce (glow, generally a pale yellow-green, occasionally a pale, “coral” red/pink) under illumination from a Wood’s Lamp, and in such cases, it is a dermatophyte that is causing your rash. Treatment is an antifungal, such as clotrimazole (you may recognize the brand as “Lotrimin AF”), or selenium sulfide (the active ingredient in the anti dandruff shampoo, “Selsun Blue”).

This individual described trying multiple creams, lotions, and sprays, none of which effected any improvement. I attempted to elicit a duration of use, and was told, “It just didn’t work!”

Alrighty, then!

For those in the studio audience who do not already know this, dermatophytes are slow growing organisms, and therefore they find themselves in that portion of their growth and reproductive cycle wherein they are vulnerable to treatment, at relative long intervals. For this reason, treatment is relatively prolonged compared with, for example, a boil or other skin infection from a bacterium like staph or strep.

Sigh. I directed my patient to employ Selsun Blue as a body wash, and to continue it for a couple of weeks.

This person looked me dead in the eye, and asked, “Aren’t you going to do anything for my rash? Shouldn’t I use a cream or something?”

Sigh, again. Repeat, verbatim, the care instructions I finished providing, oh, like TWO FREAKING MINUTES AGO. In English. To a native English speaking patient.

Fun And Games · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Life in Da City!

Night shift lost the medic bag, a fact we discovered *AFTER* we caught a run!

So, TINS©, TIW©, all psyched up to FDASL©, chatting with the off-going crew, with my partner Doug. I had just about completed dropping my bookbag full of nursing school homework on the desk, when the phone rang with a run. Unaccustomedly, we were on day-shift, this being summer and my class load being light.

Of course, our very first run of the morning was Not a “sick person”, was not a “stomach pain”, no, indeed, it was an arrest.

It was Doug’s day to drive, so I settled into the passenger seat, buckled up, and we were away.

It was the custom, in those dark days of antiquity, to gather our immediate aid materials in a “mussette bag”, generally mil surp, olive drab, canvas. With a capacity of around six liters, we could carry several roller gauze bandages, a dozen or more sterile 4 x 4 dressings, several 5 x 9 ABDs (variously translated out of acronym into English as Army Battle Dressings, or ABDominal Pads), tongue blades, plastic oral airways (NOT endotracheal tubes: in those days, we were running an entirely basic life support operation), and, most relevant to Today’s Lesson in Life In Da City, a bag-valve-mask resuscitator.

Mostly, Da City bought the Laerdal brand of bag-mask, branded as Ambu, Therefore, of course, we referred to these as “the ‘Bu”.

You may wonder why I am assaulting y’all with these details of my far gone workaday life, amirite? Well, ya see, on this particular day, on this particular “cardiac arrest” run, as I settled my bony ass into the passenger seat, I did NOT have to step around the green bag. This caused me to look around, as we sped to the run, and NOT find the bag. I twisted around, and gazed into the module from my seat, and, again, did NOT! See our bag.

This was not encouraging.

Shortly, we arrived on scene, and, fortunately (for certain narrowly defined values of “fortunately”), our named patient was not only arrested, but, also, in rigor mortis.

Please recall that “narrowly defined values of ‘fortunately’” thing, cited above.

This soul was not going to benefit in any manner from CPR, ventilation or any other intervention in our (missing) bag of tricks. Therefore, we pronounced him on the scene, called dispatch for a scout car to take report, and went in service.

Returning to the firehouse, we examined the log entries from night shift, listed several likely locations of our errant bag (and I retrieved my personal bag from my vehicle, so, in the interval, we would not face performing mouth-to-mouth on some unlucky stranger). Then, we went visiting.

On our second or third stop, a pleasant lady answered the door. “I was wondering when you fellas were going to come back. Them nice fellas last night were in such a hurry that they left this on our living room floor!” And she handed us our bag.

I asked how her husband was doing, he being the subject of night crew’s visit last night. “Oh, he’s staying in the hospital. The doctors said his belly pain was from his appendix, and he’s gonna have an operation today, but they say he’ll be fine!”

Doug and I applauded this news, thanked her for holding our equipment for us, and bade her farewell.

And, boys and girls, THAT is why I forever afterward placed my own green bag in the ambulance, for the duration of my days on EMS!

Fun And Games · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Life in Da City!

“Fittin To Throw Down!”

When I worked the road for Da City’s EMS, several of my colleagues were simpatico with the majority of our service population. So, the habits and mores of the folks on the street were not much of a novelty for several of my colleagues.

Indeed, one gentleman who was my partner for a schedule or two told a tale of a cousin of his who, exchanging words with another soul, found their conversation adjourned outside the bar in which they had crossed paths. Words grew more and more heated, in my partner’s telling of the tale, and the party of the second part drew, displayed, and announced his intent to employ, a handgun.

My partner described subsequent events. “Well, my cuz stood up tall, and challenged the other guy, saying, ‘Well, hell! SHOOT me!’. Which he did. My cousin did not survive the exchange.”

Tough crowd.

So, TINS©, TIWFDASL© with my regular partner, Doug, and we (of course) had our squelch open so we could hear radio chatter from other medic units. If one of them got into trouble, well, THAT might be a handy thing to know, so we could begin to sidle our happy asses over closer to their scene, to lend a hand should medical hands be required.

Over the radio came the memorable tones of Abbie Smith. He was able to recreate the richly evocative tones, rhythm, and nuance of the patois of the street. Partly this was due to the fact that he was of the street, and partly because he was an old hand on the job, and therefore wise in the mannerisms of the citizenry from that perspective as well.

So, anyhow, he drawled out his greeting: “Dispatch, this is Medic Nine!”

The dispatcher on duty that night was another old hand, who had been dispatching since Marconi had first dispatched “S” from Cornwall, England. He, in contrast to Abbie, was an old white boy, who was renowned for knowing off the top of his head where every ambulance was, and what they were doing, at any given time. When you are in a tense, hostile scene, is is reassuring to have a sort of radio bodyguard looking over you!

So, he acknowledged Medic Nine’s call: “Medic Nine, go!”

Dispatch, could we get the po-leece out here?”

Very good, Medic Nine. Why do you need them?”

Dispatch, these folks are all hot and bothered, and they fittin to throw down!”

Remember, our dispatcher was a white boy. He had not immersed himself in the vibrant, and ebonics speaking, culture of the street. In contrast, our friend Abbie, had. Dispatch sought some clarification.

Medic Nine, what are they going to throw down? And, from where?”

We could hear the sigh from Abbie, before he even keyed up the microphone. “Dispatch, this is Medic Nine! They fittin to throw down! You know, get it on! Fight!”

That cleared things up for our friend the dispatcher. “Are you involved in this fight, Medic Nine?”

Naw, we down the street. But, they gonna get to fighting pretty soon!”

Dispatch got it. “Medic Nine, clear that scene! Clear that scene! Police are on the way, repeat, police are on the way!”

Dispatch, this is Medic Nine! We clearin the scene!”

Again proving the importance of speaking, so that they can understand you!

Fun And Games · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Life in Da City!

Sleeping With a Chainsaw

A long, long time, in a galaxy not so very far away, I was working for Da City’s EMS. Since I was in school during the daytime, I worked nights.

So, TINS©, TIWFDASL©, and it was my turn to take the detail. In those days, several of the medic houses on each shift had three medics assigned. In the event that another unit had a sick call, or somebody off injured, well, “Tag! You’re IT!”, and somebody got to pack their crap up, drive across town, and work an unfamiliar house with a (occasionally) unfamiliar partner. The night of this tale, it was my turn.

EMS, in those days, was sort of a small town. There were around 160-170 personnel on the rolls, and what with shift rotations, details, and commonly running into a couple of the dozen or so hospitals in Da City, well, nobody was an unknown quantity. For example, during several of the years I was on the road, I was dating one of my nursing school classmates. She was, let us say, “of the African persuasion”, whereas I am purely white bread. One fellow, who I was acquainted with only in passing, had occasion to work with one of my former partners, and was quoted, by that partner, as inquiring as to the status of my relationship with my classmate. The exact quote was relayed to me as “Is McFee still seeing that (‘N-word’) bitch?”

(clears throat) Uh, well, ya see, (a) the pejorative referenced nowadays by the circumlocution “The N-Word”, was not acceptable among persons of education or pretense of good upbringing, even in those benighted times. (b) My girlfriend was in no way, shape, manner or form “a bitch”. Indeed, the time we shared lifted my own life in ways that, now, nearly 40 years later, I am still discovering. And, of course, (c) My partner stood up for me, inquiring of Mr. “More Mouth Than Sense”, if his mother was still employing her skills as a practitioner of The Oldest Profession. For some reason, in my partner’s report, further conversation ended right about that point.

So, nearly everybody on the job in those days either knew everybody else, or knew of everybody else. So, it came to pass that I was detailed out to work with Lonnie Evans, let us call him. He was renowned as working two, perhaps three, full time jobs. This led to his reputation as the soundest sleeper in the department. In addition, since it seemed that he was acutely-on-chronically something like 2500 hours in arrears on his sleep allotment, well, when you add obstructive sleep apnea to that recipe, stir lightly, and allow to rise overnight, you get to observe what 40-60 seconds between breaths sounds like. And, due to the fact that he snored with a sound like a tractor trailer starting up on a very, very cold morning, well, if your 8th cranial nerve was functioning, you were not going to miss it.

I had a sleepless night, with only a few runs. (talk about mixed blessings!). The next night I reported to Medic Four, and regaled my partners, Doug and Andy, with a review of my night across town. Andy had had a similar experience, a few weeks previously.

He reported, “Yeah, Lonnie snored like a chainsaw starting up, alright. That wasn’t the bad part! Every time he stopped breathing, I snapped awake, wondering if I would have to start coding him! After considering this possibility for several minutes, I decided that I was NOT going to do mouth-to-mouth on him, so I got the bag-valve-mask, an oral airway, some tongue blades, and positioned the handie talkie where I could reach it in a hurry. While I did not sleep any better, at least I knew I wouldn’t have to wind up kissing his wrinkly ass!”

Fun And Games · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Life in Da City!

Caught in a Snowbank with Marielle.

One schedule Doug rotated onto days, and I found myself working with Marielle. In keeping with usual practice, we rotated driver vs medic duties. One snowy night found us en route to a “heart attack” in the East Side projects. We arrived on the scene, so advised dispatch, and trudged to the indicated door. Things progressed as per usual, and our patient and Marielle seated themselves in the module.

While we were taking care of business inside, the snow had continued to fall. In addition, I had elected to park the ambulance in a snowdrift. Generally, no big thing, either drive our happy ass out of the snow, or rock things a few times, and off we go. As it happened, our truck had settled, snow had fallen in job lots, and, well, rocking that big ass truck was not about to extract us from that snowbank, at least, not tonight. I radioed dispatch to share this fact with them, requesting apparatus meet us with a wrecker. No go, they were at the scene of a multiple alarm fire across town.

Marielle and I discussed this revelation, and tried to brainstorm an escape from our snowy parking spot. I tried to rock us out, several times, and accomplished just about nothing. While I was allowing the tires to cool down, and contemplating my next move, I was startled by a knock on the driver’s window.

The gentleman who had knocked, evidently a resident of the projects, once I rolled the window down, asked me if I was stuck.

I admitted that, indeed, we were stuck. He noted that this might interfere with our transporting this patient to the hospital. (remember her? She was kind of the reason (a) we had jobs, and (b) we had come to find ourselves stuck here.) My new friend admonished me, “Don’t go anywhere!”, and I thought that I had that pretty much covered.

Minutes later I realized why he had so admonished me. This gentleman, and around a half dozen other residents gathered around our ambulance, and everybody picked their own piece of bumper, and commenced to heaving. We moved, briefly, until everything settled again, refusing to move any more.

I tasked Marielle to maneuver the vehicle, and I joined our block club meeting at the rear of the ambulance. Another maybe six or seven souls had exited their nice, warm homes, and joined us in the knee deep snow. At night. And cold as a politician’s heart (should such an organ actually exist!)

As it developed, the bumper was taken, so extra folks tugged on door handles, pushed on their fellows’ backs, and so added perhaps 12 “citizen power” to our efforts at movement.

Slowly, jerkily, gradually, the truck moved closer to the roadway, and eased out of the parking lot. Soon, we were in the middle of the street, and able to move under (the manufacturer supplied) our own power. I effusively thanked the gathering of neighbors, recognizing their irreplaceable efforts, and we set off to the hospital.

Nearly 40 years later, I remember those folks. When I hear smack talk about inner city residents, or residents of public housing, or people-who-don’t-look-like-us, I realize that, perhaps there is less sunscreen sold in those precincts, but Children of God are Children of God. Some are vermin, some are saints, and most simply want to pay their bills, raise their children and love their families, and make it from one day to the next.

Not altogether different from me.

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)

“GUILTY! GUILTY! GUILTY!”

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.