Month: February 2012

Faith restored.

Walking in to the emergency department, the only reason we were taken notice of at all was because of a panic-stricken doctor who wanted a patient on our bed rather than theirs.

I won’t go in to much further detail, but the complete and utter lack of communication, cooperation and understanding that was shown towards my partner and myself from not one, not two, but three doctors was shocking. I do not appreciate being ignored, looked down on and indirectly being told to shut up by people who think they are better than me. Especially not if they are working in healthcare.

– ~ –

Walking in to the emergency department, a very sick patient on our bed, we navigate towards the large cubicle designed for the flurry of activity that will become upon us shortly.

We turn the corner, and there she stands: feet firmly on the ground, stethoscope around her neck, a hint of a smile followed by: “Hi, I’m Dr Wood, one of the doctors on duty today. Who have you got on your stretcher?” I may have (professionally) fallen in love for a nanosecond before I caught myself again, and gave my handover.

After finishing up my paperwork I pulled the doc aside for a moment, and expressed my appreciation of her and the teams appreciation and communication towards us – that my faith in the medical profession had been restored.

We talked a bit about the details of the job, and she then said: “Yes, I know the area where the patient lives, we went there a few times when I did my observer shifts as a medical student!”

The key to working together, not just alongside each other: Communication, Collaboration and a mutual understanding of each others role helps immensely. Not to mention an open mind and a smile.

Antsy

He’s cool, calm and collected. When disaster strikes, Placid Paramedic Partner takes that proverbial step back, then steps in to action. There could be a nuclear meltdown next door and you’d think he’s responding to a routine “nana down” call.

He’s also very polite.

Unless its half an hour before knock off time and he is looking forward to a hot date.

Then he becomes not-so-Placid Paramedic Partner…walking in circles at the depot, marching out to the garage, nervously fidgeting with small bits of string, half-heartedly grabbing a broom to try and take his mind of the possibility of getting that late job. Which would ruin the evening, ruin the date. He jumps in joy and sings silly songs of enthusiasm when one part of the crew turns up early…but an ambulance is staffed with two people, not one.

The circle-walking and string-fidgeting continues.

I probably didn’t help the cause when, twenty minutes to knock off, I secretly and slyly called HQ and asked if they could “send us a test alarm”, as the beeping box in the depot that notifies us of jobs “has a funny flashing light on it”. You gotta get these things checked after all…

Before you could say “home time!” he had already run towards the big beeping box to acknowledge the job, only to find yours truly unable to breathe due to naughty laughter.

Facial expressions ranged from confusion to anger, with a couple of colourful expletives thrown my way, and some giggling from the back room courtesy of another colleague.

Luckily the second paramedic arrived then and there, and Partner was able to run off towards his highly anticipated date…to which I wish him well.

And I better be on guard next shift – revenge, as they say, is sweet.

Chunky Brown Sauce

“Unit Flobach, you are responding to Priority 1 trauma call, patient has vomited brown liquid”

Not quite sure where the ‘trauma’ bit came from, but I flagged it as a triage to be looked in to. Every system needs it’s tweaks.

I joke to my partner that the patient has probably drunk a large bottle of barbecue sauce. Quietly I am praying to the EMS gods that it isn’t faecal vomit.

We arrive to see a patient who had vomited Chunky Brown Sauce; with an intensely acidic smell attached. It is everywhere…bed, floor, walls. Quick cleanup, treatment, transport, the shift continues until it ends. Tired, happy but hungry, I arrive back home.

What’s for dinner?

Pasta.

With Chunky Brown Sauce.

Teaching

I had planned to pop in to HQ the other day to practice some skills – the infrequently utilised ones, such as intubation, intra-osseous access, cricothyroidotomy. Apply them in your typical (not…) scenarios like paediatric cardiac arrests, major multiple systems trauma etc. But then I came down with the dreaded D&V.

Not to worry, a few weeks later one of the clinical support guys offered to bring a SimMan in; and, as promised, there it was the very next day. If on cue, we even had some spare time – a match made in paramedic heaven!

My crewmate had just recently done his placements in the operating theatre, and was keen to get a laryngoscope in his hands again. We grabbed some spare gear during which my brain did a quick timewarp back to the days of my first intubation, recounting the rocky road. To be clear: I don’t count myself as a tube-guru, but I did push myself to practice as much as I can when I had the opportunity, and I have noticed a vast improvement in technique and confidence over time. Something that I am only more than happy to pass on!

So we got down and dirty with Annie; bending, pushing, flexing, bashing, compressing, exploring, she got it all. All whilst remembering the times my left arm wanted to fall off due to poor technique, how I thought it impossible to ever see vocal chords with this strange metal implement everyone called a laryngoscope, and desperately trying to save our pretend patient from a costly trip to the dentist (don’t use their teeth as a fulcrum!).

Crewmate pretty much experienced all those past memories of mine in front of me – frustration, mutilation, excitation. Finding his own position, transitioning from a laryngoscope death grip to a light manoeuvre of the tool, not touching the incisors, having the equipment organised – running through everything was a great learning experience for both of us, and I got that nice fuzzy feeling deep inside seeing the progress right in front of me!

Study one, do one, teach one.

Stalking and Subscribing…

…this blog has just become easier. I was made aware of the lack of RSS feed to subscribe to this blog, so here it is.

If you let your eyes wander to the right, you will notice I have added the opportunity to subscribe to this blog via email and via RSS. While you are over on the sidebar, you are more than welcome to pop over to my facebook page and check out my twitter link…and please check out the sponsor for EMSBlogs.com too!

Last but not least, there’s always my list of shared article from my google reader if you want to know what I read in my spare time…

OK, enough self promotion, let’s get back to this thing called paramedicine!

Hide and Seek

blog post by @skepticscalpel reminded me of a few conversations I have had with colleagues in the past: If you are at a social gathering with people you don’t know well, do you truthfully answer the question of your occupation and profession? I’ve heard answers including (but not limited to) taxi driver, delivery driver, logistics…some people make things up, whilst others state their previous profession if they had one. Or avoiding the question alltogether.

These people (generally) all love their job, and wouldn’t want to change it in the world…so why the fuss of covering up reality? Why not answer truthfully? Similar excuses than the original post; don’t want to answer medical questions. More relating to our line of work: Having to answer the typical “You must see some horrible things”, or “whats the worst you have ever seen?”.

I personally tell people the truth, rattle of my spiel about “the good outweighs the bad”, people are generally happy that they get to ask a few questions, and if they ask medical questions (hasn’t happened to me yet), I advise them to go to seek appropriate care.

At the end of the day it’s only our reputation that can improve with a friendly chat to your local paramedic – may as well share the best job in the world!

What do you do?