For all the excitement that I have with my new found hobby of blogging, I'm still having trouble accept just how backward EMS is in some areas.
God I wish, but only wish, that I could get on board with some sort of exchange program. The reason I can only wish is because as exciting as it would be to go to another country and observe first hand, sadly I would have to bring them into my system where I work.
Now I have a couple of options available to me to accommodate someone, but neither one is going to leave a good impression. Let's look at them both for a minute.
We could have some exposure to the volunteer side of my life.
We could show up to the station for the start of a shift at 0700. Depending on the morning we'd show up to an empty station with unwashed trucks in the bay and possibly the chance of a stocked truck. We would go ahead and start the normal routine as you would in any station, checking off the trucks, washing them and making sure that yourself and the equipment are ready for duty. Somewhere in the middle of all this the tones would drop for a serious call and we would find ourselves toning out for a driver. If all the right stars are in alignment and the preacher's been paid right, in about ten minutes some well meaning citizen volunteer would show up having just gotten out from under his pick-up truck fixing a transmission leak or something. He'd be as clean as one could expect given his earlier duties and he would be absolutely fine running a call like this.
While we're waiting for our driver, one of our illustrious unemployed line officers who lives in Power Trip, USA is trying to coordinate a MCI response from the next county over with more static in his radio than intelligible words. Now, he can't come help this time, but he knows what we'll need and how it needs to be done.
We would most likely show up to this serious call in one piece and begin our patient care duties while Fred is still on the radio signing on scene, checking for medivac availability, trying to talk to the responding fire apparatus and getting a message from dispatch that his wife called and said she would be getting off work early. Meanwhile we've got the scrape on the patients arm bandaged up and obtained a patient refusal.
I'm serious folks...this is my life.
Then we'd get back to the station just in time for some of the regular members to show up. They will have the latest news on who did what and who said what to who. Someone else will most assuredly have the answer as to how this or that should be addressed or fixed. Our well intentioned friends will also have their latest take on how protocols should be changed; this so they have other stuff not to do right. All the while telling the trained Paramedics how we are wrong. Mind you now, we are amongst the smartes BLS providers known to man.
We will subject ourselves to overhearing conversations about how a particular call went down and how so 'an so should have done this or that. Then they'll begin to bash the medic who shows up to help out on a BLS call and offers some suggestions on how to better treat a certain condition the patient is experiencing.
Oh boy!! Another call. We get up, get our jackets on and head toward the bay...just in time to see a truck pulling out of the bay and signing enroute with a BLS crew of three plus two junior members on board. Never mind the fact that we have a guest with us, and ALS to boot.
This could be repeated on any given day with little variation.
I could bring my guest to work with me for a whole different set of experiences that would surely leave him/her scratching their head.
We'd show up about 15mins before 1900 and get the low-down from the shift before. The usual information about which truck is out of service this time or what LG (little god)wants done a particular way tonight that's the same any other night.
The other crew departs and we settle down for a little T.V. while one of the four of us begins to fix dinner. Somewhere about this time the phone may ring for a transport from dialysis returning to a managed care facility. Luckily we don't have to worry about that tonight; my partner jumps on it and saves the night.
The county and city radio traffic can be heard in the background while the respective stations go about their business. My guest will get a personal introduction to who actually represents EMS around here this way. It will be sad to say the least, depending on how busy it gets.
While dinner is cooking we go out back to check off or trucks. Four by fours...25 (dingy and yellow). 5x9's...10. Cravats...4. O2...empty of course. And the routine carries on the same as it would anywhere else in the world.
After dinner, we do our station chores. Clean and mop the bunk room. Sweep the office and take out the trash. Clean the parking lot; usual stuff.
Sometime in the next hour or so a call might come out for one of the volunteer squads in the county. Cardiac patient with chest pains. Nobody answers. We head to our truck because we are the back up for the volunteers if they can't cover the call. We sit in the truck waiting to be dispatched, thankful that we're no more than five minutes out. Two minutes after the initial dispatch, mutual aid tones are set. Again nobody answers so we head on out of the parking lot. Here we are now five minutes after the call and it's getting ready to be turned over to our agency when a volunteer truck marks up.
Are you ready for this folks?
A BLS truck signs enroute to this call from the other side of the county. They have to come right past our station to get to it and we must now stand down. 'O well, back inside for some good 'ol T.V. and Facebook time. Fifteen or twenty minutes later they will sign on scene. Five minutes later they are toning out for a Medic truck....ya think?!?
Sometime tonight we'll get the opportunity to go to a nursing home to pick somebody up out of the floor. Or we'll get to go to the ER and take someone back to the nursing home so they can fall again. We'll quite possibly get a call for an out-of-town trip to a cardiac center or to a level one trauma center; that can be fun at times and a second set of hands would be great.
Eventually there will be a call missed by the volunteers for a belly ache and we'll head on out to assess this call. Enroute to the belly ache call, the same station will receive a second call for an unresponsive subject. With miracles upon miracles they will pull a crew together to answer that one. Now understand, we will have to pass this unresponsive call while going to the belly ache. We'll advise them of this fact and request for them to allow us to divert to the unresponsive while their BLS crew handles the belly ache...just makes sense to me. They'll hem and haw over the radio how they will have a member on scene POV in five minutes and then they will advise us back if we are needed. Meanwhile, we are arriving on scene at the belly ache a few minutes after their member signs on scene and calls a working code.
If you've read this far, you may think I'm exaggerating. I assure you I'm not. This is the real day to day life of EMS in my system. No oversight. No accountability. No ration or reason other than...because we can.
It is for these reasons that I'll never invite another Paramedic to work beside me in my system. And the reason is mostly out of sheer embarrassment.