I spent the summer running ambulance like it was my full-time job. Mostly because my actual full-time job became an 'eliminated position' in June. This resulted in 37 (thirty-seven) interfacility transfers in one quarter, sometimes as many as three a week. I spent most of Labor Day weekend in the back of a Horton.
Which is fine.
Sometimes there are great stretches of time in this endeavor where nothing much happens. It was a summer of cardiac rhythm disturbances and possible CVAs. There was the odd car accident. But last Friday night was a reminder of why I have a special place in my heart for people who make poor life choices on a regular basis.
00:35. We're called out to assist an airmedical agency, and on the way we find out its a 'hot load'-- we have to get the patient at the hospital and take him directly to the helipad so he can be on his way. This usually means that whatever is going on is pretty serious and there isn't time to pick up the helicopter crew, ferry them to the hospital, let them dink around and then wrap the patient in what I call the 'flying burrito wrapper' (their fancy insulated blankie) and take them back to he helipad. I know the ER's been quiet, so I'm interested to know what's up.
We get there, and the ER is quiet indeed, except for our patient, a twenty-something man in plaid boxers who I can tell either just engaged in a tearful confession of some kind with the Paramedic holding pretty vicious direct pressure on his right wrist, or he's drunk.
I step behind this Paramedic in an attempt to figure out why he's holding this young man's wrist so tightly. After all, he seems boisterous, and possibly inebriated, but not particularly violent.
Peeking around a stack of four by fours is a deep cut that seems to go most of the way around his wrist. Four more packs of gauze sit stacked beside him and he asks me to open them. "Three of them should do it." Yikes. I open the packs and watch them wrap the wound. I sense a story coming.
"So what happened?" The paramedic asks as we drive to the helipad.
"Oh, man. You wanna hear a story? So, like, we were drinking and whatnot, and I, like, fell off the porch and caught my hand on the white things, you know the white things between the windows? And, like, my hand went through it. And I fell. And blood, like, shot out like four feet."
He offered further information.
"But, you know? Okay. You wanna hear this? Last year, like, my friends and I were partying, and drinking and whatnot, and I, you know, passed out on the sidewalk. And you know what the cop did? He TOOK ME TO THE HOSPITAL. What a DICK."
(What was he supposed to do? Put cones around him so no one would trip?)
"Thirty five hundred dollars. Man. That sucked."
"You ain't seen nothing yet," the Paramedic said. "Wait until you get the helicopter bill."
We waited, listening for the distant drone of his ride coming in over the lake. The patient coughed long and deep.
"That doesn't sound to good, are you sick?" I asked.
"Nah, its...you wanna hear this? Okay, so about a week ago I was siphoning some diesel fuel and I got some in my lungs. I guess I should have them check that shit out too while I'm at the hospital."
"So, you were just going to let that go and see how it worked out?" by now the Paramedic has that look on his face that tells me I'm going to be spending the next few minutes trying hard not to laugh. "Do you ever think about, like, staying home?"
What would we do on a Friday night if he did?
In other news, most of you already know that I lost a job in the beginning of the summer. Some of you may NOT know that I got a new job that I have a feeling may contribute some content to this blog, though from a different 'angle'.....I'm a 9-1-1 dispatcher in training.
Yep, I'm learning to work the other side of the radio....police stuff, protocols, geography, computer aided dispatch, its a whole new world. I love it-- the co-workers, the work, even the wonky schedule is cool.
Poor life-choice makers...holla. You already have my digits.