Thursday, December 6, 2007


Wednesday night. Second duty section of the week.
I'd hoped to get to the ambulance building, execute my little side job cleaning it, and whip out some tripsheets before any tones dropped. That is, after I had a leisurely supper that I'd pick up on the way in.
What is the saying, man schemes, and God laughs?
As I was making my final approach to town from work at about 17:25, tones. Patient to be transported directly from a Dr.'s office to a hospital 65 miles away. I step on it and get my phone out to call our crew chief, to tell him to wait, that I'm 5 minutes out.
He answers. "Hey! Howya doing!"
I say, "I'm almost there, so wait for me."
He says, "I'm in (town an hour away), and I'm just leaving. And (our other crew member) is just leaving work in (town an hour in the other direction)."
I say. "Okay then, I'll just go and see who comes."
Well, five different departments get paged out. No one is available. I should mention that the roads are borderline crap, its cold, and its snowing. We were supposed to have flurries all day. Its been flurrying with a lot of determination for hours. Finally one of the paramedics from the hospital pops in and offers to drive. We grab the second-line ambulance (the first line ambulance is OOS because of some problem with the air-system-dealie-thing ) and go.
The patient is alright, he isn't super excited about the transfer and he is so reluctant to admit he feels like crap that it takes about 30 minutes of good cop/gooder cop interrogation to get him to say he hasn't been 'quite right' for about a month. (He has some not-good things going on with his heart, he shouldn't feel good.) But he's stable. Away we go, bouncing into the night.
This ambulance isn't exactly a smooth ride. Heck, any ambulance makes you question the structural integrity of your bras, but this one seems especially swingy.
I'm chatting with the patient, and two things happen at the same time. Neither of them are good.
One, the patient starts doing this funny thing with his lips. That funny thing means "Gee, I feel an awful lot like I might throw up. I wonder if I should say something." Or in this man's case, "I feel like I'm going to throw up but damn if I'm going to admit it." I ask him, are you all right? We elevate his head. He is offered the good drugs to make it stop. He refuses them. We scramble for the Magic Barf Cones. We can't find any. I put a towel across his chest and offer him the only thing I could find; a scroungy looking red plastic bag. He looks at it, and looks at me. I smile, apologize, and wait for the wave.
Two, the ambulance starts to smell. Its subtle at first, like maybe we drove by someone's trash burning. Then it gets a little worse. Then it smells like the stretcher is parked on top of a smoldering tire fire. I mouth to the paramedic "What's burning?" He does a quick check, and shrugs, but I can see 'slightly worried' battling 'professional and calm' for real estate on his face. We check on the patient. He's still doing the lip wiggle but still doesn't want drugs. We find a Magic Barf Cone and swap him the red plastic bag.
About 20 minutes from our destination, there is a terrific bang, the ambulance lays down a blanket of smoke about 18 feet wide, and it feels like we're driving over half a cord of firewood.
We stop, the driver and paramedic grab flashlights, and look underneath. All tires are intact, and we haven't hit a rock, a deer, or a toolshed. There is talk of us 'losing our rear end'. Not being a gearhead I have no idea what that means. The patient gives me a slightly exasperated half-smile that clearly conveys the degree to which he believes we are idiots. We ask him if he feels better and he says he's "A damn sight better now that we ain't movin' no more." The Magic Barf Cone stands down.
The paramedic calmly conveys to county that we are dead in the water and another ambulance is called (and comes almost immedately, bless them) to take the patient to his destination. We limp the ambulance, which now creaks and sways like a wagon pulled by a drunken horse, to a well-lit parking lot to await a tow. Our chief comes to collect us and I finally get the dinner I never had and a much-coveted chance to pee. And bonus; no more calls for the rest of the night.

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