April 7, 2008 The Real Deal

Two months have passed since I began working full time with my top pick for a service.

It has been about a year since I finished up in the classroom of EMT school and prepared to begin my practicum.

It has been two years since I first allowed myself to consider the idea that my interest in EMS was no longer about understanding someone else, but instead to satisfy my own curiousity and attraction to the career.

And now it’s time to update this blog...

Today was a deep clean day. A task most of us dread starting but like any other chore, once you begin it’s not that bad. As I finished up with the back doors doing a final look over to see if I’d missed anything I was stunned to realize how much all of this has become routine.

Staring into the back of this unit in which I have spent 40 of the last 64 days either attending or driving, everything felt familiar: As if I’d always been there. The memory of my days behind a desk in an office seems like nothing more than a dream.

To go back and read some of my own thoughts about my first ride along I can’t help but smile and quietly laugh at myself. I remember the excitement. I remember watching the EMT or Paramedic complete a routine task thinking with awe that it might be me doing that one day soon.

And here I am after our most recent call which was mine to attend. We took an RCMP escort as a precaution for this one. I thought nothing of it except appreciation that I had the constable with me in case my patient became more aggressive. However after transferring care at the hospital and then proceeding to the nearest Dairy Queen for a snack it became apparent that this particular constable might never been in the back of an ambulance before. As we joked about a few events of the call I realized how my role in the back had changed.

In the past two months I’ve attended about 20 calls, trained a new employee, driven enough kilometres to cross the country twice, stepped my muddy boot inside a variety of homes seeing a very different side of life then what I grew up with.

The calls we’ve had have been varied.
* a stab wound which narrowly missed being a pneumo
* infant bronchitis
* sore throats (insert eye rolling here)
* pediatric seizure
* a body in the ditch which turned out to be what I call a ‘clown car’
* cholecystitis
* flu symptoms
* respiratory distress
* frost bitten feet
* eye injury
* “fall down go boom”
* assaults with head injuries
* RCMP calls to cells
* domestic abuse
* dislocations/fractures
* substance abuse/withdrawal
* hypertensive emergency

There’s one distinct advantage in the region I serve: most calls take about a ½ hour minimum to respond to. That gives the attendant plenty of time to read through protocols, and prepare in his or her mind what possible treatment will be required, and a few game plans depending what we find at the scene. This takes away from the stress of those first calls on your own.

It’s a surreal experience when you’re no longer third on car. You’re never really on your own because you have a partner to at least discuss ideas with. But you don’t have that safety net of being a student when you aren’t sure what to do.

The biggest lesson I’ve gotten in the past couple months, is that the day I started working as an EMT is the day the real school began. Every call is a learning experience. Every call seems to be clusterfuck (and I know it will feel that way for a while). And as I complete my PCRs for each call I realize what I could have done differently.

And each time I drive out to start another tour I realize how happy I am to be doing this job. Not just because it gets me out from behind a desk... not just because I get to help people (whether they really need me or not)... not just because I get to wear the sexy reflective stripes and drive real fast with lights and sirens... but because I am doing something that is challenging, ever changing and always a learning experience either about people, or medicine.


chaos culprit said...

I am so glad you are enjoying your job... never loose that.. ever! I'm so proud of you.. i knew you would do well in whatever you did!

emily said...

oh, the sexy stripes!!

Anonymous said...

Just remember... even 20 years down the road... each and every day is a learning process. Maybe not the simple things, maybe it will be about situations, dealing with others, or even new equipment/procedures... but each and every single day there is something to learn in this career... just don't ignore/miss it :)

Glad to see ya updating this thing :)

Superman :)