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.

Fun With Suits! · School Fun And Games · Sometimes You Get to Think That You Have Accomplished Something!

How Adults Roll

Many years after I was FDASL© in Da City, I was a Dad. (In my opinion, my most important job). I had four children with my wife, She Who Would Become The Plaintiff. Our daughter, referred to herein as Brenda, was a lovely girl, but, unsurprisingly, was a typical pre-adolescent.

One fine day, The Wife received a phone call from the school, relating that Brenda was failing Science class. We interviewed Brenda, attempting to understand what might be preventing this child from comprehending the material in her class that, to be honest, was not all that complicated. I mean, it was fifth grade science, in a podunk little school district.

We learned, after The Wife had detail-searched Brenda’s book-bag, that she, Brenda, had not been turning in her homework assignments. Oh, Hell Naw! That simply would not do! The Wife and I decided that, since I worked midnights, I would be the nominated for the role of Science Class Homework Monitor.

I phoned the school and learned that Mrs. Science Class was in her classroom yet, and would be happy to discuss Brenda’s failing with me. Off Brenda and I went.

I asked Mrs. Science Class if our appraisal was on target.

“Well, yes. Brenda has not been handing in her homework assignments.”

“Do you have these assignments? I mean, in a form that I, her father, could use to have Brenda perform this homework?”

“Well, yes I do. You do realize, Brenda is not going to receive credit for this work, do you not?”

“Yep. I don’t care about credit. Brenda, here, is going to perform these assignments, and I will check them for accuracy, and completeness. Then, I will check her spelling and grammar.”

Mrs. Science Class informed me, gently, “I do not check spelling, or grammar.”

I smiled. “How interesting. I do. Once I have corrected those items, Brenda, here, will do the assignment over again, until she gets all that correct. Then I will grade for neatness.”

Mrs. Science again offered, “I do not grade on neatness.”

Again, I replied. “How nice. I, however, do, and Brenda will repeat the assignment until she meets my standards of neatness. Then, she will do the next assignment, meeting all those standards, until she had completed every one, in it’s entirety, to my thorough satisfaction. Then she will deliver them to you for final grading.”

Mrs. Science Class looked at me, her head sort of half-cocked to one side, as if she were a beagle watching me cook something in the kitchen, and she repeated herself. “You know, Mr. Stretcher Ape, Brenda is not going to receive credit for all this work, don’t you?”

“Yep, you told me that, and I really do not care.”

“You do not care?”

“Nope. So, Mrs. Science Class, do you assign homework simply for your own entertainment?”

“Oh, no!”

“You have a plan of instruction, and homework is a part of that plan? Homework is part of the process by which children acquire an education, correct?”

She nodded. “Correct.”

I leaned forward, intensity in my speech. “Mrs. Science class, my daughter may or may not get the credit: I really do not care. What I care very much about, and what her mother agrees with me completely on, is the fact that our child is going to get the education. Full stop.”

She leaned back. “You know, I do not have this sort of conversation with parents, very often at all!”

I showed her my wolf grin. “That, Mrs. Science Class, is not Brenda’s problem. If she ever, again, so long as she breathes, fails to turn in her homework, in full, on time, and satisfactorily neat and legible, then every single assignment that she may have, I will correct. For completeness. For accuracy. For correctness. For neatness. For spelling. For grammar and syntax. And, she will do those assignments that I find unsatisfactory, over, and over, and over again, until I am satisfied with them.

Or, she could simply turn in her work, to you, on time and complete, to be graded as you see fit.

You see, I am willing to be Brenda’s problem, for so long as she desires it. She will let me know she desires it, by not doing her damned work.”

For those of you who care, my daughter finished high school, and then worked her way through her baccalaureate degree, working full time, with a child, as a single mother. And worked her way through her MBA degree, working full time, with three children, as a single mother. I take some, small pride in her accomplishments.

But, SHE did all the work. In full. On time. And completely. Because she is an Adult Woman.

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

“But, what do I do?”

So, TINS, TIWFDASL as a nursing supervisor at The Little Un-Named Hospital In Da City (TLUNHIDC). One night, I received a call from our ICU. The nurse on the other endtold me that she had an order to transfer a patient, from our hospital to The House Of God. She asked me what I wanted her to do.

(Again), I thought, “This! This is why I get the Big Bucks!”. I told her, “In that case, I think you ought to transfer your patient to The House Of God!”

She responded, “But, I don’t know if they have a receiving physician at The House Of God.”

My rejoinder, “Well, then, call the House Of God, talk to the nurse in their ICU, and verify that there is a receiving physician.”

(Henceforth, I’ll dispense with the “He said, She said” business. From now on, any dialog beginning with “But…”, is her. Any other dialog, is me.)

“But, what if their physician hasn’t received report from our physician?”

“Note that fact in your nursing notes of that conversation, call our doctor, and invite him/her to call House Of God’s receiving physician, and remedy that oversight.”

“But, I don’t know if report has been called!”

“You might elect to look in the chart, for a note documenting that report has been called. Or, when you talk to their ICU, ASK!”

“But, what if report has not been called?”

“Well, while you have them on the phone, give them report. And chart that fact.”

“But, I don’t know what ambulance service to call, to transport that patient!”

“Ask the switchboard who is next on the rotation, and call that service.”

“But, I don’t know if the family has been notified.”

“So, the required phone number is in the chart, correct? Once all the other pieces are in place, phone the contact person, bring them up to speed, and document same in your notes.”

“But, what do I do about his property?”

“I suppose that bagging it up, and sending it with him, might be reasonable.”

“But, what about the chart? How am I going to send the chart with him?”

“Most nurses photocopy it, and send the photocopy with the patient. I recommend you do likewise.”

“But, how am I going to get it photocopied?”

“Most charge nurses, have the ward clerk servicing their floor do the photocopying.”

“But, we cannot spare her for that long!”

“You have an eight bed unit, have three vacant beds, haven’t had an admission in 6 hours. If you cannot spare her, right now would be a good time to fill your supervisor in on what catastrophe is unfolding in your unit!”

(her: “stutter…stutter…er…um…uh…”)

(Me) “I’m waiting?”

(Her) “But…But…What do you want me to do?”

“Get a pen and paper.”

(her) “What?”

“Get a pen and paper.”

(her) “Why do you want me to get a pen and paper?”

“Simply do it. Now.”

(her) “I have a pen and paper.”

“Good. Write this down. Call The House Of God, verify that our doctor has reported to their doctor.

If not, call our doctor, and invite him to do so. You give report, and chart same. Call the ambulance service that the switchboard tells you is next up on the call list. Call his family, bag his property. Have your clerk copy the chart, and send that copy with him. Have you written all that down?”

(Her) “Uh, yeah.”

“Do you understand all that?”

(Her) “Uh, yeah.”

“Ok, now Do IT!”

End of call.

Life in Da City!

Athos, Porthos, and the Discarded Prescription

Once upon a time, in a reality far, far away, I was working a couple of schedules at Medic17. This was a house with a three medic crew, and we were just outside of the downtown area of Da City. Remember, this was on the order of 35-40 years ago, and the all night, wide selection of dining experiences thing was years, or decades, in the future.

So, after about midnight, your meal choices were the brown bag you brought in to work, White Castle, which was several medic districts away on the far west side, or Shanghai Palace. The late night Chinese restaurant was, itself, a considerable distance out of our first response district.

So, TINS ©, there I was, cruising Da City late one night with Athos driving, Porthos medic-ing, and me riding in the patient compartment. We went to the only drugstore open all night in Da City, Larned Drugs. Athos needed some cigarettes, and Porthos and I wanted a Coke.

We parked on the sidewalk, for, after all, were we not Da Fire Department (it said so on the door of the truck!), and entered to make our purchases. Concluding same, we exited, and stood outside, enjoying the summer night breeze. Along came some soul, who exited Larned Drugs muttering and swearing, announcing insights into the pharmacist, his lack of education, and the unusually close relationship he and his mother shared. He crumbled something up, tossed it upon the sidewalk, and stalked up the street.

Athos retrieved the something, and uncrumpled it to reveal a prescription sheet from DBTHIDC. Strolling over, beneath a streetlight, he read it to us, showing off somebody’s (the recently walked-away complainer?) penmanship, wherein the prescription directed the pharmacist to dispense “Mofeen, one pound.”