Thursday, November 29, 2007


Crash last night in town.
Driver was passing in a no passing zone and found themselves in a losing game of chicken with a tractor trailer.
Tractor trailer vs. car with a short front end = nearly six feet of intrusion into the passenger compartment. After the truck was pulled off it took a very long time to remove a very broken (and decidedly deceased) person from the vehicle.
We sat around back at the station speculating about what could have been so pressing that a person was passing multiple cars on a stretch of double yellow. Bad phone call? Fight with a significant other? Just late/tired/preoccupied? We'll never know.
I went home last night thinking about the consequences of our actions. It doesn't get much more lasting than 'permanent'. It doesn't get much more real than 'dead'. For some reason a line from one of those old 12 Step 'handouts' popped into my head:

Just for today I will save myself from two pests: Hurry and indecision.

Turns out, hurry and indecision are real bastards.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


The hospital we normally transport patients to is a great little hospital. Clean, pleasant, smaller than the high school I went to, it only took a few months to acquaint myself with many people who work there, not only because many people I know do work there, but darn, the place is small. You see the same faces over and over. It doesn’t take long to learn where everything is. A nice place to become accustomed to this EMT stuff.

The downside of that is that we don’t have a lot of specialties covered. Orthopedic surgery, neurology, cath labs, all that sort of thing usually buys you one of two things; a ride on a helicopter if the weather is good and your condition is poor, or a transfer.

Transfers are not everyone’s favorite thing. The facilities we travel to most often are between 65-85 miles away. An hour or two in the back of an ambulance is not for the potentially carsick. Spending those 1-2 hours with a patient who might be 1) also potentially carsick, 2) combative or deep in the throes of a really interesting neurological deficit, or 3) radiating funk for one reason or another is the gamble you take when you agree to go. You have one of those moments where you kneel down beside your inner child, take them by the shoulder, and remind them that 1) this is what you signed on for, 2) that person probably doesn’t want to be transferred either, 3) make sure you go potty before you leave, and 4) stop your whining.

Last night the call came from the transfer coordinator and I was asked a question. "Hey, do you want to go to (insert town within spitting distance of Canada)?" I did a rough calculation, decided I could probably function on the number of hours of sleep I’d get once we returned, and agreed.
We arrived at the hospital and gathered up the paperwork that included medical records, our ‘permission slip’ to blow town with the patient, and the usual name/address/SSN stuff. I glance at the form and see the words RECTAL BLEEDING as reason for admission. Uh oh.

Fortunately this is a ‘was happening’ thing and not an ‘is happening as we speak’ thing. The patient is ambulatory and we get him all snugged up on the stretcher. He tells me matter of factly that his colon is ‘about to blow up’ so they are just going to go ahead and ‘take it out’. Suddenly, lost sleep and a couple of bone-jarring hours on the bus don’t seem to be much of an inconvenience.

The trip was uneventful, we even managed to make the patient laugh a few times on the way. (I would venture to say that the soon-to-be-colonless is a tough crowd. So we did okay.) He told us he should be home by Thanksgiving. I hope he is right.