30 November 2005


I'm getting ready for the holidays. I don't have anything better to do. I put the tree up and finished putting the American flags on it. I also got the lights put out on the balcony. Yeah! Now all I need is a wreath for the door and get some finishing touches for the living room.

Other than that life is pretty boring. I bought some movies to watch. Hopefully that will keep me entertained for a little while.

I found a good fundraiser at


This website sells fundraiser packages of wristlets. They are sort of like the Livestrong wristlets, but they have them for both law enforcement and fire dept/ems. They say either "Thank You Blue...24-7-365" on a blue band for law enforcement or "TYFD 24-7-365" for fire/EMS on a red band. They also have special wristlets for Fire/EMS/Law enforcement personnel and their families only. I ordered several of them and they are good quality. I plan on making a proposal at my fire department to try them as a fundraiser. I think we could raise a lot of money with them-seeing how popular wristlets are these days. We'll see how it goes.

29 November 2005

Doom Day

Um...yeah, so I'm gonna need you to move your desk to the storage room...m'kay. God I love that movie. For those of you who don't know it, the movie is Office Space. I think I just like it because of the fire at the end :).

I can't believe that it is almost December. That means snow and ice and cold. Yuck. I did start putting up Christmas decorations. I went outside to decorate my balcony with red, white and blue lights, and realized that I accidentally got purple instead of red, and only half of the strand of blue lights worked. Oh well. I put up my little six foot tree which is USA themed and all the ornaments are either firefighter or "America" related. I also have red, blue and silver baubles to put on it. I can't put the ornaments on for probably a week because otherwise they will all break when the cat decides to pounce the tree. I figure I'll give him a little time to get used to it first. Once I am finished decorating it I will post a picture of it.

I went in for my epidural today. It sucked really bad. I could feel every thing. The doctor gave me Versed but it didn't work very well (or he just didn't give me enough) because I was awake the whole time. It was the weirdest feeling. It felt like someone was stabbing me for a few minutes (which I guess they kind of were), then I felt a burning go up my spine, back down and into my left leg. I don't think the procedure even helped at all. He said it might take 48 hours to take effect. Damn. Now I got upgraded to Norco instead of Percocet or Demerol. So basically I am taking the equivalent to four Vicodin every four hours. Yikes. I should just check myself into treatment now and get it over with.

Wish I was back at work. It is more stressful not working than it is when I'm there. Especially the money situation. Hopefully I get the Aflac figured out tomorrow. I'm going to entertain myself with a find-a-word puzzle and hopefully doze off.

28 November 2005

Hazmat- this one's for you Keenan and Jimmy!

I went to the pain specialist today. I go in tomorrow for an epidural. Ouch. Thank god I will be somewhat knocked out with versed for the procedure. Hopefully it will work the first time. The Dr. said it may not work the first time, but they will try it three times before they do anything more drastic. Then they do something with the disc. I'm not quite sure what, but it doesn't sound like fun.

Finally back at the fire academy tonight. Yeah! Hazmat awareness. Good times. I really don't remember most of the class. A bunch of stuff that I have had to learn multiple times. We had to take hazmat awareness in EMT-B and EMT-P classes. Oh well. I think I'm hazmatted out. I definitely won't be going on for ops or technician level any time soon.

One thing I know for sure: If I see a big green cloud or a huge spill of something hazardous-I'm running the other way; and if I am close enough to see people that are down-I will still probably run because I don't want to become one of them. Then I'll call 911. Damn....wait a second-that's still me. Poop. Pretty reassuring, huh?

27 November 2005

Spaz Kitty

I haven't done much of anything today- as usual. I basically did some laundry, picked up the house and sat around. I did get some bath towels in the mail that I ordered. There was a slip in my mailbox yesterday but it was too late to pick them up last night. Wow. Pretty sad when that's the excitement of the day.

Um...Yeah. I did some word-find puzzles. I fed the cat. I got attacked by the cat; who by the way is a complete spaz. I think I kind of made him that way.

Here's the story about him. I got him in August of 2004. He was adorable and tiny-he fit in the palm of my hand. He was a little black kitten. I named him Cinders-short for Cinderella because he was a girl (if he was a boy I was going to name it Sparky- because he could be a fire kitty). It sounds a little odd, huh? A boy with a name short for Cinderella. Well, yeah. On his first trip to the vet they told me he was a girl. The second trip they changed their mind and told me he was actually a boy. So, in essence I made him gay by treating him like a girl for several months. I very well couldn't change his name by now because he responded to Cinders. Now he is quite confused, and I think that is why he spazzes out so much. He even climbs the walls. Right now he is entertaining himself by diving headfirst into a box in the living room only to fly right back out of it two seconds later. He has been doing this for 20 minutes now. After he is done he will be meowing at me like a poor, unloved kitty and want to be cuddled until he starts biting me and is thrown out of the room....again. I believe he thinks that this is a game. To me it is a hassle. I wish he would just pick a personality and be done with it. I would prefer the nice, cuddly, cute kitty. I'm sure he would prefer the other. Oh well. He is how he is and I don't think it will ever change. At least he's entertaining if nothing else; and he knows how to tug on his mother's heartstrings.

I guess I will go find something to entertain myself with. It would be nice if I was as easily entertained as the cat. But that is not so. I get bored after 15 minutes of doing something and have to find something else. I missed the TV shows I wanted to watch tonight, so I think I'm shit out of luck. Dammit.

26 November 2005

Not quite la vida loca

Wow another day of doing absolutely nothing. I'm bored out of my mind and I want to go back to work. Right now would be good. It's weird how much I hate being at home. I would so much rather be at work. It seems that it is just the opposite when I am at work.

I just can't find anything to entertain myself with. We're out of the academy until Monday for the holiday. Hopefully I get cleared to return to work after the 29th because this is killing me. It's actually quite depressing. Basically all I do is sleep and get up when I have to do something- like use the bathroom. What a boring life to lead. Too bad I really don't have any hobbies because this would be a really good time to catch up on that kind of stuff. If I was smart I would have taken these past several days and gone up north to see my family.

I guess the ride would have taken a toll on my back though, so maybe it wouldn't have been that great after all. It is just over 320 miles from here.

I miss doing my everyday stuff at work even. Stupid things like washing the rig and making it presentable after a bad call. I really miss the calls. I miss the stupid transfers that are so BLS they might as well be medi-car, and I especially miss the good ALS calls where I actually feel like I'm helping someone.

Hopefully soon I will be back to my hectic life. I liked it better that way. No time to sit down, not enough hours in a day or days in a week to get everything done. Crazy, hectic, nonstop...that's how I like it.

25 November 2005

Post-Turkey Day

Post-Turkey day and I'm still kicking. I am definitely sick of this home-body business and ready to go back to work. It's just too boring. I sleep, eat, take my meds, sleep. Yeah, that's about it. Boring!

I did watch part of ghostbusters II though. I've never seen it before. I also did really fun stuff like laundry and dishes. Tomorrow I should be on shift :( but I'm not. Damn. I see the specialist on Monday to see what they're going to do to me. They said before either shots or an epidural. Hopefully not the latter. Ouch.

I guess I will go entertain myself and play the Sims 2. Maybe it will keep me busy for 20 minutes. Gotta love ADD.

24 November 2005

Carbon Monoxide

What a great way to start off the day. I got up at 0445 to get a drink. While I was in the kitchen I heard a beeping noise. It just sounded like the smoke detector when the battery is low. I walked in between my room, the hallway and the living room trying to figure out what was beeping. Then it started beeping more often, and another alarm went off. The Carbon Monoxide detector in my bedroom started blaring, so I knew something was up. My roommate came out of her room because her detector was also going off. So, I called 911.

The dispatcher told me to go outside and wait for the fire department to arrive. It was probably 10 degrees outside, so I waited in the foyer area by the garages. The fire department came in with their detectors for CO. They got readings around 85 in my apartment, so we weren't allowed back in. They thought it was our water heater. They wrote up some papers for us and had the maintenance guy wait with us for the gas company.

About 5 minutes later, while we were still sitting in the upstairs hallway/stairwell, one of the firefighters came back up to tell us it wasn't our water heater. They had the detector on when they were walking back out to the truck and they got a reading over 500 ppm in the foyer area and by the garages. Great. That's where I was standing for the 10 minutes waiting for the fire department to arrive. They got into the garage that was reading especially high (around 600). There was a golf cart that the apartment complex uses for maintenance plugged in that they suspected was off-gassing because of old batteries. This created all the CO and was leaking into our apartment.

The scary thing is that the only apartments that have CO detectors in my complex are the ones above the garages. That means that the apartments on the first floor where the readings were 500 ppm in the hallway, had no idea because they don't have detectors. Also, all the apartments in my hallway had high readings also and didn't know it. Even in the hallway by my apartment they were getting readings upwards of 80 ppm. We actually had to move out into the stairwell that had more ventilation because the levels were too high.

All in all it turned out okay. Maintenance moved the golf cart out and unplugged it. Our detectors continued to go off for about an hour. We opened up our windows to air out the apartment and went back to bed. I had one of my coworkers call me about an hour after I went to bed to make sure I would wake up. Which, obviously, I did.

I am definitely an advocate for CO detectors now. Had I not had them in my apartment I would probably not be here to write my blog today. Even though the levels were only around 85 ppm when our detectors went off, the levels were continuously going up until they removed the golf cart from the garage. At 500 ppm you would probably never wake up. I thank god for having the CO detectors and for the fire department actually taking the time to search the building for possible sources of the carbon monoxide. If they had just left after thinking it was coming from the water heater, and allowed us back in the apartment after the gas company came, instead of searching the first floor and garages, the outcome of this incident probably would have been very different. I will thank God every day.

Now I am over at a friends house for Thanksgiving. It is going to be a good night. I plan on eating my turkey and enjoying a night out of the house.

23 November 2005

Not so much fun

Another boring day without work. Gosh, I never realized how much my life revolved around work. All I do at home is sit and wait. Although I'm not quite sure what it is that I'm waiting for.

I went back to the doctor this morning. I got my MRI results and they switched my pain meds to demerol. I have to go see a pain specialist for possible injections or an epidural. Yuck. Hopefully it will magically get better before I have to do any of that. My appointment there is on the 28th.

I'm upset that I'm not working on Turkey day. I was really depending on that time and a half to pay my bills. Oh well. I guess I will just have to figure something else out. My Aflac should kick in this week.

Once again, I have no stories. I haven't even been carrying my fire department pager around with me because I get too depressed when the tones drop and I know I can't go on the call. Or any call for that matter. Today I should be on shift with the ambulance company. But no. I'm just sitting on my bed staring at the wall.

22 November 2005

MRI from hell

I got up bright and early this morning at 0600. I had to go for my MRI at 0700. I went to the wrong building the first time. I did find the correct place which was basically just across the street.

The MRI itself took about an hour. The table was super uncomfortable. By the time the thing was over with both my left arm and leg were completely numb, and my back was killing me. Once again-the whole reasoning behind MRI's and back pain doesn't make sense. Oh well. Of course the technicians can't tell you anything, so I went back home and went to sleep.

I still haven't accomplished much of anything. I've been surfing the web looking at other people's blogs and reading jokes etc. Nothing all that great. I'm probably going to doze off pretty soon, seeing as there is nothing to do.

21 November 2005

Enough with the water already!

Another odd day without work. I woke up this morning to the sound of my pager going off. I only made it to the sitting position before I realized that I was at home. That was a definite change from the norm. I had some coffee and folded some laundry.Nothing really too fun.

I did go and see Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire movie today. I thought it was quite good, although the book was considerably better. I stopped at Wal-Mart to buy more undershirts since my washer seems to be eating them and went home to get ready for class. I put on my long underwear, undershirt, t-shirt, sweatshirt, socks, pants, jacket, mittens, hat, and boots and was ready to get out the door. The only bad thing was that I forgot to bring an extra set of clothing. My gear was already in my car since our training was at Abbott laboratories and not at our station.

I stopped at the gas station to get some chewing gum and coffee (what a combination!), and was off to the plant. It was kind of cool to be able to flash my badge and get through security with no questions asked. Especially now with all the terrorism. Normally these industrial plants are just as hard to get into as the naval base.Anyways, I found the fire station with no problem on the property. They only have one engine, but it carries over 700 gallons of foam and 300 gallons of water. Pretty impressive.

Since tonight we were studying sprinkler and fire protection devices, one of our practicals was to shut off a sprinkler at the head. Pain in the ass. Our instructor would turn on the sprinkler, which, might I add, was outside, so we wouldn't get the station wet, and let us at it in pairs. You had to climb the ladder (A-frame) and put a chock in the sprinkler to stop the water flow. Sounds easy, huh? Not really...at least not with all that freezing cold water flying into your face. I got the chock into the sprinkler head, but by the time I accomplished that I was soaking wet from head to toe. The water even leaked through the neck of my gear and soaked the front of my shirt (or should I say shirts) all the way down. I had to strip down to my long underwear and just have my sweatshirt on over that.

We then looked at a few fire panels and different types of sprinkler systems throughout the building. After that we had to unscrew and rescrew a PIV type valve, and an OS & Y type valve. I can't even express my enthusiasm in words. We also went through two slideshows (69 slides in each show to be exact), while we were all soaking wet. Brilliant.

I was supposed to work at the firehouse tonight too but I found coverage at the last minute. I figure another night in my own bed couldn't hurt.

I ended up at the acute care center after class for my back. My doctor told me on Saturday if my meds weren't cutting it to go there and get a shot to make it through the night. The doctor at acute care disagreed. He gave me a new prescription for Percocet (after about 2 hours of sitting around). Now I'm home and ready to catch some shut-eye. I have to be up at 0530 for a 0645 MRI of my thoracic spine. Yuck. Did I mention how much I hate mornings?

20 November 2005

No work today :(

I had my alarm set for 0650 as usual this morning. I woke up and hit snooze, as usual. The only problem was that when I tried to get out of bed-I couldn't. Even trying to move just a couple of inches felt like my body was going to fall apart. I was still trying to get out of bed at 0730 when I realized it wasn't going to happen.

I called my station manager (who also happens to be my partner) to tell her my predicament. She was completely understanding and said she just wanted me to get better. That was good- at least one worry off my chest. Then I called the box (headquarters) to tell them I was "calling off." Operations wasn't there so I got a hold of dispatch. I told them, they put it in the log, and transferred me back to operations to leave a message on their machine. I did and that was that. My partner actually stopped in around lunch time to bring me a baked potato and chili. That was really nice. By that time I had actually made it out of bed and was on the couch. Had I been any more mobile I probably would have gone in for the back half (2000-0800). Oh well. I just hate calling off. The only other time I have done it was when I had pneumonia with a 103.7 fever. I actually went in to work like that, but after twelve hours I was so exhausted that my partner had to take me to the ER. Oops. I didn't want a situation like that again. Also I don't want my back problems to affect my patient care (such as smoothness of moving and lifting).

Basically I have done absolutely nothing all day. Maybe some stuff that I shouldn't be doing anyways. I did some laundry. I finally got to wash my sheets that have been in my laundry basket for over a week now. I also caught up on some reading and played snood on my computer.

I tried to take a nice hot bath but for some reason I don't have any hot water. Damn it. I have more problems with this apartment than I would like to admit. I called and left a message on the emergency maintenance line, even though they don't consider it an emergency. They called my back and actually came out to see if they could fix it within the hour. That was very surprising. The guy looked at my hot water heater and said it was fine and the pilot light was on. It just needed to warm up. This was kind of frustrating because this wasn't the first time this happened. I waited about 1 1/2 hours and my bath water was actually hot. Awesome. It was quite relaxing, and I enjoyed reading my book in the tub. Now I am going to relax in bed and possibly finish a few chapters before I nod off.

19 November 2005

Water supply

Up at the ass crack of dawn again. Well, not really-but close enough. I got up at 0750, got my books together and ate my cocoa wheats. Then I walked the 10 steps from the bunk room to the training room for class.

We took a quiz and then it was off to the drill site. A.k.a. the city park. We were working on water supply. Our first practical was operating a port-a-tank. As a group we opened it up, set up the elbow piece got the jet siphon, hard suction and water supply ready. We bled out the hydrant and hooked up two 1 3/4 lines to feed the elbows which hung over the side of the tank to fill it. Then once the tank was filled, we let it drain and did it again. Our next practical was to hook up a gated wye to the engine to hook up two 1 3/4 lines, charge them using the proper signals for the engineer, and flow water all over the park until they told us to stop. Then we refilled the port-a-tank, used the hard suction with the jet siphon to refill the engine so the next group could do the same thing. We then traipsed across the park to our next "station." In this one we used hard suction to get water out of the hydrant (after we bled it out, hooked up a wye etc) and into the engine. We didn't actually flow the water because the engine was already full, and the engine we were using was our first out engine, so it had to be able to leave in a hurry if, in fact, we got a call. Then we used the soft-suction pre-connect on the front of the engine to hook up to the hydrant. Yeah. Good times.

We then went back to the station to wash both engines and all the hoseline we used. Then we talked about Monday's class- where we will be meeting at Abbott laboratories to learn about sprinkler and fire protection systems. We even got a spiffy map to show us how to get there.

After that I took a ride out to target to get some more long underwear because it is ridiculously cold here. I also did some more paperwork and tried to figure out my 401K worksheet thing, but I am at a complete loss. I will have to take it to my banker and have him help me.

I also called my doctor, as she had asked, to let her know how I was doing. She asked me to come into the office since she was there for a few hours. My back is getting worse. I guess my extension and flexion was at about 50 degrees last time I saw her (which was already pretty bad), but now it is down to 10 degrees. She said she's "putting her foot down" and no more work for me for at least a week. I'm not sure I will be able to follow that but I will try. She gave me a higher dose of vicodin-hopefully it will work.

Now I am being a complete bum. I actually have the night off!!! Yeah! My back is killing me from training, so I plan on lying around like a slug and watching TV. My drugs haven't kicked in yet, but my hopes are still good. I don't think I am ever going to turn off my heating pad...it's just too warm and toasty. Okay, I'm going to watch some pointless shows now and turn off my brain. That's all for today.

18 November 2005

Patient or Nurse: you decide

Our last call was a transfer back to a psych facility. The guy was taken into the ER for "abnormal labs." They took his blood again and realized the facility put the wrong patient label on the blood tubes. His labs were completely normal. A waste of 16 hours for him. We dropped our patient off outside the door to his room, then proceeded back down the hall to the nurses station. There's only one problem. I'm sure most other cities have facilities very similar to this one. You can never tell who works at the place and who lives there. All the staff wears street clothes, as do the patients, and quite frankly most of the staff (that I actually recognize as staff) would fit right in with the rest of the crowd. Needless to say I did get my run form signed; whether or not it was a nurse or another patient-is a whole different story.

Got in late to the firehouse. I was supposed to be in at 0800, but seeing as I didn't get relieved at the ambulance company until 0800 from the oncoming crew, I had no choice but to come in at 0845. I didn't have my pager on, so when I got to the station I was quite surprised that one of the ambulances was missing. Then I heard sirens and saw them fly past the station. Shit. I hate it when that happens!

The guys returned shortly after. A routine call-not quite sure why they were running lights and sirens... Anyways I helped out the medic by typing his report into firehouse since it really should have been my call. Then we all got ready to go to a funeral. My chief's mother-in-law passed away after a rough few months of hospice care. It was quite dismal and I wasn't quite sure what to say. I had never met the woman and I didn't know any of the family, but I was there to support my chief and his family. We stayed for about 30 minutes and made a quiet exit. We had an engine call for a true alarm and got returned before we made it to the scene. I stayed at the station as the medic.

I got off at 1700. No calls at all (for me at least). I had three hours to do laundry, pay bills and play with my cat, and it was back to work. I started again at 2000. Still nothing. It's off to bed with me after I check out the ambulance.

17 November 2005

Full Arrest

Yesterday wasn't even worth blogging for. Very boring. Yaddah, yaddah, yaddah.
Today started out like any usual day. I got up at 0650 and left for work at 0740. Our first call we got called for was a pt c/o epistaxis at a nursing home. The guy was pretty young (53) and had lots of complications from diabetes. The nosebleed started the night before-no other complaints. His vitals were as I expected- B/P through the roof at 190/110. His abdomen was rather rigid, and his glucose was around 350. We couldn't get a line and even if we did we couldn't give him fluid. Oh well. We took him to the hospital. The whole time he was with us we never saw a drop of blood come out of his nose. Weird.
We got called for a lethargic patient at a home address. The place is practically a block from the hospital. We pull up and a lady is screaming "she's not breathing! She's not breathing! Shock her!" I was just like, okay. We brought our gear inside. The lady was elderly, maybe about 70, unresponsive lying on the couch. She was breathing, but very slowly (maybe 6 a minute) and had a pulse. I went outside to get the oxygen off the back of the cot and I heard sirens. The daughter called 911 too. The daughter kept yelling at us "why aren't you doing anything? Shock her!" I was like "Ma'm-she has a pulse. We are doing everything we can right now." We got the lady hooked up to the monitor, and I started bagging her. She was in a sinus brady rhythm at about 34. Then the fire department came in. They helped us out tremendously. The lieutenant kept the family out of the room while the rest of us got the lady moved over to the cot. We got her out to the rig without too many problems. The fire department sent two of their guys with us to help out. I switched the BVM onto the onboard oxygen and looked at the monitor-asystole (god I hope a lead is just off). No such luck-she was coding on us. We got an IV, a tube, started CPR and were off to the hospital. I drove. Here was my tele report: "Ambulance 146 we have an ETA to your facility of 2 minutes. We have a full arrest, CPR is in progress" Hospital: "you have what?" Me: "We are brining in a full arrest with an ETA of 30 seconds-I'm pulling in. Click." Yeah. We got the lady back for probably 7 minutes at the hospital, but she ended up coding again before they got her to cath lab. She even had a B/P of 140 systolic and had a strong pulse. Oh well. I guess you can't save them all. I could hear the daughter screaming from the waiting room. I was on the other side of the ER in the medic room. I'm glad I didn't have to see her afterwards because I could just see her screaming at me "I told you to shock her!" Another day, another story.
We also did a return to a nursing home in Wisconsin.
Hopefully I'm up for a restful night.

15 November 2005

Lift assist gone wrong

Now I know why I never go to the doctor. Several months ago (more like 8 months ago) I hurt my back at work. It was another shift at the ambulance company. We were doing a return to a home address in the city. The lady weighed about 130 kg and could not sit up due to her MS. She lived it the typical Chicago 2-flat. We asked for a lift assist-they sent us two little girls that looked like they should still be playing with barbies. We had to take the lady up the stairs on the stretcher. So I was at one end, my partner at the other and the girls on either side. We got up about two stairs and one of the girls started dropping her side. My partner tried to correct this, and in the process, pulled the cot towards him, torquing me forward and down the stairs. Needless to say I kept my grip on the cot, and the lady did not fall- but I heard a terrible pop in my lower back. We finished the call, I wrote up an incident report, and got on with my day. My back has been bothering me ever since, but it just got really bad in the past two weeks. I finally gave in and saw my doc. She got x-rays; and I got the news: a herniated disk! Shit. That could put a little damper on my parade. I'm supposed to be off work for several weeks, and be in physical therapy three times a week, but who the hell has the time or the money to do that. Certainly not me. So...I plan on just sucking it up and popping advil every few hours.
Same stuff- different day. Another day at the firehouse that is completely boring. I started at 1200. Basically I have done nothing all day. We ran a few errands this afternoon- picked up film from a fire that is under investigation, went to the pharmacy to restock on advil...bought a heating pad....yeah, that’s about it.
We went to a red shift meeting at 1830 because my day crew partner is assigned to red shift. I'm a black shifter but because I helped them out so much last month (I covered 8 shifts as the medic), they told me I'm an honorary member. Basically that meant I got to eat pizza for free and I wouldn't be sent out to the rig if they discussed anything private. Yeah :)
We got back to the firehouse around 2000. I washed the rig because it was trashed from the roads being so wet. Then I proceeded to do my nightly checkout. Someone left the portable oxygen at 1200 psi. Typically I refill it every night to the highest pressure on the cascade. When I went to use the cascade, after looking at the current psi measurements on the wall, I realized that the highest bottle was at 1000. Not even close to what it should be. Nobody knew who switched out the cascade bottles, but I was informed in the past that I cannot do it myself. I was told to use the portable as it was. Yeah...that's a real good idea if I get a full arrest. But since I am just a probie, even though I am the medic on the rig, I kept my mouth shut and said some prayers that I wouldn't need massive amounts of oxygen tonight. Thank god we don't have CPAP yet.
Anyways, I'm going to call it a night.

14 November 2005

Bored to tears

We've only done two calls so far. That's good I guess. We took a guy up to the rehab floor at a hospital on the other side of town, and did a return to a nursing home. Pretty routine. I don't even have any good stories to tell.

I went to class at 1830. We talked about public education and fire prevention. A lot of the information was pretty inspiring. I've always liked to teach and I think this would be a good way to help out my community. I have helped out in the past, like for fire prevention week, but I think I would like to take it a step further.

I plan on applying for some classes on fire prevention and education at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland as soon as I am out of the fire academy.

Now I am back at the ambulance company. Just chilling. We have a third rider tonight so I am hoping that we get at least one good ALS call before he leaves.

I guess I should know by now that if you wish for a call you won't get it. Our third rider left around 2300. Now I'm going to bed. I'm at the fire department all day tomorrow.

12 November 2005

Yeah. You came at a bad time

I hate it when I don't have time to blog and I totally forget what I did during the day. Um...think, think think.....We did several other calls after the psych.


We got a call for shortness of breath. When we got on scene the lady said she was always short of breath. So I did an assessment while my partner did paperwork and talked to the nurse. The nurse said we were actually taking her for a fever. Yep. You guessed it. No fever either. But, when I did vitals her blood pressure was only around 84 systolic. I got out my IV kit to spike a bag etc. That was all good, but there were only three angiocatheters in the bag- a 16, 24, and an 18 gauge. That's really helpful. Needless to say I did get the line with an 18, and once we got her out of the geri-chair and layed her down, her BP came up to around 100 systolic-good enough. Of course the closest hospital wasn't the hospital she wanted to go to, and her condition didn't warrant a diversion. Halfway through the transport she had such bad back pain I had to run hot anyways. Stupid.


Back to the gas station to fill up and get coffee to make it through the rest of the night. I stayed outside while it was pumping and my partner went in to pay. She waited in line for so long that it was done pumping and I got my coffee before we got to the front of the line. We have to use fuelman to pay for our gas, so we handed the card to the cashier and waited for him to do his thing. Then he walked away and started pulling out the cash drawer and filing papers. I was like, okay...are we done yet. He gave me this look like I was an idiot and kept putting stuff away. We stood there for probably 10 minutes. Finally my partner asked what the hold up was. The cashier said "You came at a bad time. It's shift change." I had to restrain myself. A bad time??? I'll give you a bad time. How would you like it if you called 911 and the dispatcher tells you "you called at a bad time, so you'll have to hold on" or if I showed up at your house and said "you know, you called us at a bad time. We were right in the middle of dinner, I have to pee, and I could really use a smoke break. We'll be back at our own convenience. Thanks." Or if we didn't run calls too close to our off time because it's "shift change." It really made me wonder why they call gas stations "convenience stores." It must mean "at the stores convenience." It just really bugs me that people can be such ass holes when no matter what time of day, what I'm doing, or how I feel- I'm still out on the streets, at everyone else's convenience to help them. I'm somewhat disgusted.


Another psych transport and it was 0600 and my coverage came in early so I could leave for my fire test. That went relatively well. I was off for several hours so I went to the book store and grocery store before I had to head back to the firehouse.


I'm back at the firehouse (since 2000). No calls yet. The guys are playing a game called "Tanks" on the computer and I plan to read for a while and call it a night. I'm off at 0500. Yeah!!!

11 November 2005

Para-medicar to the rescue

I must have ESP. My pager went off in the middle of the night like I predicted. On my way back to bed I refused to look at the clock to see what time it was. I figured I would be depressed knowing I only had a few more hours to sleep. My alarm went off at 0650, and after attempting to throw it across the room (in which it only made it about 8 inches seeing it is plugged into the wall) I got up for work.We have only done one call so far (it is 1215). That’s good. Definitely a good way to start off the day. The crew we relieved this morning said they got slammed. I don't think they made it back to quarters all night. They said for every one patient they took out of the ER they brought two more in. Wow. That sucks. Hopefully all the people they brought in are either already out of the ER or admitted.
Our one call was a BLS MRI. We took a 40 year old woman in for a thoracic spine MRI to see if her epidural line was properly placed. That call really tugged on my heartstrings a little. She said all her problems started in July. She had a kidney infection and since then has been on a pain pump, unable to work, and has only seen the outside world from a window, or from the ambulance stretcher when she has been taken back to the hospital. Before all this she was a happy newly wed with two teen children. Now she was diagnosed with pancreatitis. The amazing thing was with all the problems she has had she could still joke around and be in good spirits. She said "my glass is still half full....I'm thankful I still have a hand to hold the glass." I thought that was really special. She'll be in my prayers.
Just got a call: 1225
We did a BLS to a nursing home for a patient who had knee surgery. She had so much stuff I thought we'd have to take it down on the cot to the ambulance and come back for her. We managed to get everything together and get her down to the rig in one piece. I had to laugh when I saw the address on the face sheet: 450 Washington, Lot 156 (No that's not the actual address). The trailer park. Great. All the people I have ever taken that lived in the trailer park have been huge. Yep...should have made a bet. She was 250+.


And another call: 1415- return to a nursing home. Then after a pit stop at Culvers for custard we got another call. Of course trying to eat and drive is a task in itself-especially with ice cream, and the call we got was an emergency one. Great...so much for enjoyment. It was more like: just try not to wear it. The call was for a fall in the next town over. The guy we picked up was 97 years old and just lost his balance on the toilet. All he needed was a few stitches for his head-downgraded to BLS.
Then of course the take one in bring one out rule applied. We took an 18 year old schizophrenic to the psych floor, and we are back in quarters at 1900. I was also called an ambulance driver. I felt like one too today-no ALS calls. Next time I'll tell them I'm actually a medi-van driver and its a compliment to be upgraded to "ambulance driver" :). I don't understand why its so hard to tell the difference between "driver" and medic. I will probably never understand-just let it in one ear and out the other-they just don't know what we really do every day.


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10 November 2005

Testing 1...2...3

Another day at the firehouse. I started again at 1200. A very boring day. I studied for my Mod B test for the fire academy for a while....cleaned the training room....Yep. That's about it. We had controlled burning at the state park all day, but they took all the fun out of it and forgot to invite the FIRE DEPT!!! Damn.

I have a policy/protocol test tonight for our EMS system. I haven't studied for it. I figure if I don't know my protocol by now I shouldn't be working on the streets. A lot of the other EMTs and Medics are freaking out about it, but I can't seem to get excited about it. Then it's off to the other fire station to take my Mod B fire exam.

Hopefully after that I will be able to enjoy my night. I may even get ballsy and turn off my pager. Whoa... But, knowing me, I'll completely forget to turn it off and it will wait until I am deeply asleep to drop the tones. Then, in my stupor I will stumble out of bed, get dressed and get out the door before I realize that I am at home- not on duty tonight, and I can go back to bed...several hundred cuss words later. It will probably happen more than once. Oh well. Sleep is overrated.

09 November 2005

District not-so familiarization

The firehouse has been rather slow today. We basically sat around and talked for the past few hours. Now we have our weekly company meeting (shift meeting). Today is black shift ( my assigned company) so we had a short meeting and then decided on training to do for the evening. We decided on district familiarization. We went through the map book and also talked about some recent (and not so recent) calls that we had trouble finding the address to. We ended up with about 15 roads/addresses that we would familiarize ourselves with tonight. Since I was on day crew (until 2000), I was assigned to the ambulance with two guys and we set off. I am relatively new to the area up here as it is, but there has also been a lot of new construction that the other guys weren't really familiar with either.

Needless to say, in our ventures to find the addresses and roads we did end up in some not-so-friendly neighborhoods. Well, actually, they may have been perfectly nice to be honest, but it was dark and windy out and I wasn't real fond of spotting my partner out of all the dead end streets we got ourselves into. I was just waiting for an animal to run out in front of me or hear sticks breaking in the woods...It would have been all over. I would have high-tailed it out of there without looking back. All in all the training went pretty well.

We found many of our repeater roads that dead end every few blocks. You know, the ones that you can see right through the little patch of trees to the other side where it starts up again but you can't get the damn rig through it. I guess that's why we did this drill so that we will known for the future where theses roads are and how to figure out which of the 8 Logan Courts the rescue/fire call is truly on. It wouldn't be the first time I'd look like a complete jackass turning around in a parking lot with my lights on and my siren blaring, just to realize I was going the right way in the first place. Stupid, stupid, stupid. That's when I wish I would have just gone on a nice code one where only half the neighborhood would notice instead of the entire town. Oh well. You have to be good at something I suppose.

We got back from training around 2100. I'm still beat from yesterday, so I plan on calling it an early night in preparation for my butt crack of dawn off time of 0500.

08 November 2005

Never Get a 24oz...even if it's FREE

Tuesday...yeah it feels like Saturday for some reason. We have amazingly only done one wait and return call. We did an ALS MRI for a 77 year old woman. This is what I don't understand. We send people to the MRI for many things, including back pain-which is what this lady was going for. So, in order to figure out what is causing this pain we have to put her on a rock hard table and tell her to lie still for 50 minutes. Yeah that seems like a great plan.

I always feel so bad for these kinds of patients. And it always seems that those are the scans that take the longest. This poor lady had COPD and already had trouble breathing, so lying her down just made it worse; she had the textbook barrel chest. She also had terrible kyphosis. It looked like her head was just suspended in mid air. Surprisingly enough she made it through the scan, but was is a lot of pain afterwards. Then she had to endure the 15 minute drive back to the hospital on our poorly cushioned stretcher on what seem to be the bumpiest roads in Lake County. The trip ended up going fine and the lady thanked us for being so kind. She said the last crew that took her wasn't very nice. I always hate it when I hear these comments because you know that these people create a stereotype for all of us.


We just got back from the gas station. It's always a pain because there is only one gas station in town that we can use our fuelman card at. Of course we had to get our daily coffee run in too. I was just going to get my usual 12 oz but on my partners request I got a 24 oz instead. The gas station has a rewards program and she had 2 coupons for free coffee. And you know how that works: it is redeemable for any size. So in order not to "waste" the coupon, I got the biggest size they offer. Big mistake. I drank the entire thing already...and its only 2000. Now I can't blame dispatch for waking me up every 15 minutes. It's my own damn fault because if I ever stop bouncing off the walls and fall asleep, I will be waking up at least every 15 minutes to use the restroom. Crap.


No need to worry I was up most of the night for calls. We did a basic psych transport for a 43 year old confused schizophrenic around 0130 and got back to quarters around 0200. We actually got about 2 hours of sleep (or maybe better phrased as "in a supine position"). Dispatch beeped us around 0445 just to let us know we were going to have a 0545 pick up for an MRI. Thanks a lot. I beeped them back to tell them we got the page and they felt it was necessary to keep me up another 5 minutes to explain the call. The call was actually for a 0600 pick up, but they plan for 15 minutes for us to get out of the rig and into the hospital. Huh? Yeah, maybe in "real time." Then they proceeded to tell me that the patient didn't need to be to the MRI until 0625. Okay, whatever. We'll be there...now can I go back to sleep for 45 minutes?


We got to the call on time needless to say. The RN had given our 92 y/0 "pleasantly confused" patient valium so he would be relaxed for the scan just prior to us getting there. We loaded the patient and headed to the MRI. The only problem was that when we got there at 0630 there was not even one car in the parking lot; the secretary arrived just after we did. Great...even the garage door was locked. Once we finally got inside and spoke with the secretary we were told our patient's scan wasn't until 0700, but we were "right on time" because they want patients there 30 minutes before the MRI. I found myself asking "what for?" There wasn't even a tech there yet. The tech showed up at 0710 and I thought all was well. Not so fast...the patient got on the table, into the room, and decided he couldn't do the scan. His valium had worn off and the trip was pointless. Oh well. I still got off almost on time- I punched out at 0815; another busy day ahead. Today I'm at the fire station.
(Back dated)

07 November 2005

"911...No, you can't have an emergency right now..."

Wow! A day off. And as usual I hear my pager go off several times. This is completely normal when I have a day off. The fire department gets all the good calls. Structure fire, cardiac arrest, wildfire at the state park. I just sit and listen- knowing that as soon as I go back to the station nothing will happen. The whole world will stop and know that I'm working.

I think the dispatch there hates me too. They must keep track of my schedule, and when someone calls 911 and I happen to be working they just tell them "Sorry, Katie's working and we couldn't possibly make her day by giving her a call....Yes ma'm I know your house is on fire. Just start spraying it with your garden hose....Yes sir I know you're having chest pain; could you call back in an hour, because Katie gets off at 1700." I just don't understand. Hmph.

I did do some really fun stuff in class tonight though. We got to watch a slideshow about salvage and overhaul, and then watch 2 videos about the same damn thing. I think I should now be a certified salvage-cover folder. The movie showed 2 guys folding a salvage cover while a narrator told us what they were doing. Then we got to watch them do it again in "real time" with music. Wow. You can't beat that. I almost asked my instructor for a copy of the video for home entertainment.

I have my Mod B state test on Saturday the 12th. I can't believe I only have a month left of the academy. Lots to look forward to- fire calls that will never come while I'm on shift, having to throw hose at a fire scene and look like a jackass because Lord knows-I still can't do it, and best of all no more videos! Yeah!

06 November 2005

Gotta Love Dispatch

Yeah-so much for the slow night. We went back to our main station in Waukegan to get some paperwork and realized our back passenger-side tire was almost flat. Perfect timing considering I practically needed a life preserver to get out of the rig.

We got another B.S. call around 0130 for a psych transfer. The guy was a mess-you know, the usual: tried to kill himself by overdose, is a regular crack head and has been married three times, and had such a huge belly he looked 18 months pregnant. His last wife committed suicide and blamed him. Nice.

We received our next call around 0400. Still pouring rain. This time I think my time would be better spent building an ark to live in. A psych return to a nursing home. I could tell she was huge as soon as we got the page. You know-when the name just screams morbidly obese. She was brought to the ER for a psych eval. Another quality use of our tax dollars so the nursing home staff didn't have to deal with her for the shift. When we got to the hospital I looked in room 10 and cringed- there she was, at least 6'6 and 280 pounds. She had to use the bathroom before we left so we waited for her in the hallway. I had the perfect plan to save my back and raise the ER bed to the height of the cot and have her scoot over. Yep. Those dreams were shattered by the ER nurse who proceeded to strip the bed to ready it for another patient. Damn it.

I swear to god all my dispatchers hate me. No matter who is dispatching they always make sure I don't sleep more than 15 minutes at a time. I think they just like to keep me on my toes. Good thing they aren't a fly on the wall because they would be dead from the amount of times I chuck the nextel across the room. Some nights I just refuse to go to sleep; it seems like when I do that we get less calls...I also get less sleep :( I still lose. Poop.

Another seemingly boring day. The firehouse is quiet. Only my partner and I. So far the most exciting thing I've done is practice throwing hose. Which, by the way, I still suck at. Maybe it's not me-the hose just knows where it wants to go and it's not in a straight line.

Well we're going to go visit some kids from a rescue call the other day to bring them fire helmets and coloring books. Hopefully we'll get a call before I'm off at 1600.

05 November 2005

Another Day in the Neighborhood

Yeah! Another crappy day in the wonderful city of Waukegan. It is like 45 degrees and pouring rain. It has been a relatively slow day (damn! why did I just say that!?). We have done four calls so far. We took a guy back to the hospital from the MRI, then took another guy to a home address in Winthrop Harbor. Then it was off to lunch, where we proceeded to watch another rig fly by the restaurant to a nursing home we could have easily been at 20 minutes ago. Oh well. As soon as we left we got an emergency call to a nursing home for a patient with a fever. (You're really sending me lights and sirens to this?) Anyways, another routine transport to the ER for no reason later, we got another emergency call for "abdominal pain." At least that call almost warranted an ambulance. Now we are back in quarters and out of the monsoon rain storm outside. It was already dark out by like 2pm and it seems like it should be morning already. That would be nice considering it is only 1900. Wish me luck on a slow night! Tomorrow is another busy day- with hopefully some excitement, at the firehouse.

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