31 January 2006

Dropping Like Flies

I worked at the ambulance company today. Did a return to a nursing home; status post something...I can't quite remember what. I think I have early onset dementia.

We did an emergency call to a nursing home in Deerfield for a "lethargic patient." The patient was alert to painful stimuli (sternal rub) only. We did our normal ALS workup-nothing really we could do. The RN said our patient was in the hospital three days ago for the same thing; the doctor said it was a UTI.

I ran into our other shift rig in the ER. They had just taken a patient out of the same nursing home. Their patient was doing really poorly-they needed to intubate her but they were unsuccessful. I wish I would have gotten that call.

We took another lady out of the same nursing home as soon as we cleared up for "abnormal labs." We took her to a hospital 15 miles away. She didn't want to go, but was eventually convinced. She wouldn't let me touch her-I couldn't get any vital signs but respirations. Good thing the "abnormality" was only increased PTINR and not something more serious that truly needed ALS treatment.

People were dropping like flies at that nursing home. We joked that it must be because an RN decided to actually check on the patients for once. The sad thing is that's probably true.

We also did a call for a femur fracture. The guy was 91 years old and had fallen a week ago. They just took X-rays today and it is fractured. The guy was trying to get ahold of his son-calling multiple times. I asked him if he had managed to finally get ahold of him; he said, "no, the damn thing keeps going to something called automated voicemail...whatever the hell that is...his phone must be broken." Needless to say, the guy was a riot all the way to the hospital, and his son got to the hospital about five minutes after we did.

We also did a tranfer to a psych facility from an ICU for an 18 year old who overdosed on Tylenol-he took 80.

Another long shift...school tomorrow

(back dated)

30 January 2006

Tutus and tights

Another long day. I was up at 0745 to get ready for school. My dance classes were pretty good. They seemed to last forever because my ass and leg are still killing me from Saturday. My psychology class was okay too. We talked about childhood disorders-easy enough.

I got out of class at 1415 and headed towards the fire department. I had to drop some paperwork off. If only I had been a couple minutes slower (or faster, depending on how you look at it) I would have caught a call. I was about a mile away from the station when the tones dropped for a 10-50 PI. I did a u-turn and headed towards the intersection. I got caught in traffic, and by the time I got close to the scene I heard a neighboring town go on scene, "...on scene, 2 cars minor damage...we'll use our ambulance for transport, continue in with the engine." I turned around and headed back to the station to act as standby. The engine was returned about 2 minutes later-they never made it to the scene. Our ambulance actually did transport one, so I staying at the station until they returned from the hospital.

This is the funny part. As I said above, I was coming back from school. My last class is ballet. So, of course, I was still in my dance clothes: tights, leotard, jazz pants, leg warmers...and clogs. Yeah. Of course I couldn't wear a normal pair of leg warmers; I had to pick the ones that have bright pink and black stripes. I looked like I belonged in the Wizard of Oz. I walked into the station just after the engine returned. I got some pretty funny looks to say the least. All the guys would stare and then ask me to show them a dance. Yeah, great. This is going to be one LONG semester. And people thought they were confused before...today I almost fulfilled some people's wishes-wearing dance clothes and bunker gear, all at once. Maybe on Wednesday :).

29 January 2006

Skin Tear

I thought I was going to get off easy last night. So close...yet so far. We got a call around maybe 0200 for a "laceration." At the bottom of the page it said "skin tear." If that wasn't bad enough, it was paged out as ALS. Right... We got there and the guy was completely fine. A minor skin tear that many elderly patients get all the time from being moved in bed, etc. The thing that the nurses must not realize in the nursing home is that the hospital can't do much more than they can. The nurse had already dressed our patient's arm. We were taking him out of the alzheimers ward. All he had to complain about was that it was wet outside and, "where the hell are you taking me?"

Of course, the RN told us to go to a different hospital than the closest. So, I drove the 14.5 miles to this hospital. It was raining and since that was melting the snow, there was a ridiculous amount of fog. Anyways, the guy was still asking where the hell he was going when we got there. We moved him over to the ER bed and the nurse asked if we could take him back. So, we waited. We had also noticed that he had a nasty eye infection when we picked him up, so the ER nurse gave him a tetanus shot, put a tegaderm on his arm, and gave him a prescription for antibiotics for his eyes. And we were enroute back to the nursing home. We got him back in bed and made it back to quarters around 0515.

We were asked to report to our station for crew change at 0745. We stopped at Dunkin Donuts to get bagels and donuts for the station meeting at 0900. I woke up extremely sore and stiff from yesterday. I can't believe it that I actually made it out of bed. My left leg is the worst; my knees are still really swollen, but I think I pulled every muscle that attaches my ass to my leg. I walk like a gimp...and I have dance again tomorrow. Yeah!

I cleaned and did laundry for a good portion of the morning. I have also been studying for most of the day. I did my assignments for both of my dance classes. Then I turned my attention to psychology. I have been freaking out for the past hm...yeah, like 7 hours that I have an exam on Wednesday. I just looked in my notebook to be sure, and realized that it is actually next Wednesday. Whew. Now I can finally take a breather now that it is 2300. Too bad I realized this so late because I really need to start working on my online classes. Oh well.

28 January 2006


The day has finally come...and I didn't make that big of a fool out of myself! Wow. It was hard, but I had a really good time. All I could think about was how much fun it would be to be in the recital in April. There were a few dances that I wouldn't want to do. One was a tribal dance and one was just too tough. It was for "advanced" dancers with two or more years of experience; definitely not me. If you have ever seen "Center Stage" you would recognize the dance. The music is really good for it but I would make a fool out of myself. There were way too many turns and I am way too dyslexic. Every other move was a turn and I was getting so dizzy I felt like I had been in a spinning teacup at the fair for hours.

There were about 15 dances all together that we had to learn as a group. Then they split us up into groups of about 10 (we had to wear number) to perform. It was kind of scary because since your group is only made up of about 10 people, and you are dancing in front of a wall sized mirror, there was a constant reminder that the other 60 people were watching your every move.

It was definitley an experience. There were several dances that I really liked; hopefully I will get into them for the show. The results of the audition will be posted on Wednesday. I still love to dance...but I don't think my knees agree with me. I used to think my knees looked bad after I would return home from fire training. That was nothing. Both of my knees are swollen and bruised and have pieces of skin that were rubbed off from doing floor moves. Right below my knee and part of my shin is also torn up-it is sticking out about an inch or so from my leg. It looks terrible. I also feel like I broke my butt.

I got to work around 1400. Not feeling too bad...yet. I will be paying for this tomorrow. We did one call- a return to a nursing home. Hopefully we are in for a quiet night.

27 January 2006


Today has been relatively uneventful. I ran some errands and paid some bills. That is about it. I had to drive to Libertyville to get leg warmers. Yep...I said leg warmers. I feel like I've been sent back to the 80s but oh well.

I can't believe my audition is tomorrow. I think I am going to make a complete and utter fool of myself. I guess it's not that big of a deal. There will probably be tons of people there-none that I know, and if I look stupid it won't really matter. The only problem is that I really do want to succeed. Part of it is just to prove everyone wrong that thought I wouldn't go through with the whole "dance" thing. (I feel like I'm on an episode of "Made" on MTV). But, the rest of me wants to do this just for me. I have a good time dancing and it is kind of an outlet for me. Oh well, we shall see what I think about it after tomorrow.

26 January 2006


I have done absolutely nothing all day. Let's see...um...I think I did some laundry, took a nap, and took another nap. That is basically it. I came into work at 2000. All I have done is check out the ambulance. Hopefully we get a call soon. For some reason if we get a call it is either between 2200 and 2300 or 0245 and 0330. I haven't had too many in between those time frames. It is really weird. Oh well. I made a half ass attempt at making a lasagna thing in the microwave, but I guess I must really suck at cooking because I nearly ruined it. The cheese didn't seem to be melting...oh well. It tasted okay. Now I sit and wait, as usual. Maybe I will finally get a call. I can't remember my last shift there when we actually got one. :(

25 January 2006

Invisible Voice

Another long day. I had school until 1415. All of my classes went well. My dance classes have been fun so far...except the tights, leotard...yeah. I went to work at 1500. We were busy all day and night. We ran almost all emergency calls.

One was for "altered mental status." When we got there the call wasn't actually for an altered mental status. The guy had a 102.5 fever, was sweating profusely and had an oxygen sat of about 79%. We got him all settled on the cot, put him on the monitor, tried to start a line and failed and put him on a NRB. His sats went up to about 94%. I noticed that his right leg was extremely swollen and red. The nurse said they never noticed it. Right. He was probably septic.

After that we got a call for SOB. The lady was sitting at a 90 degree angle, was extremely pale and was puffing away. Her lungs were so wet you could hear it without a stethoscope and her legs had pitting edema. Her oxygen sats were pretty low. The RN at the nursing home had already given her 40 mg Lasix IM and a neb treatment. We got her out to the rig, started a line and started pushing drugs. I gave her a nitro and called in my tele report and asked for orders. I got orders for 40 mg Lasix IV and another neb treatment. I was excited that I got to push three drugs on one call. The lady had pinked up quite a bit and was feeling somewhat better. The call went well and it made my night-I actually functioned as a medic for once :).

We took a 15 month old to Children's in Milwaukee. The baby had down's syndrome and had pulled out his G-tube. The transport was uneventful. We didn't get back until after 0400.

We also did another SOB call. The nursing home was practically .2 miles from the hospital. We drove over 12 miles with lights and sirens to get there. According to the nurse the guy had SOB with wheezing. The patient had alzheimers and didn't remember being short of breath. He was in no distress and wasn't wheezing anymore. We transported, minimal ALS (just the monitor) and turned over care to the ER. We didn't get done until 0750. We got back to the station for shift change around 0830. Another day of being held over, but it was a good shift, so I can't complain...well at least not too much.

There was only one thing wrong with my shift-the dispatchers. I swear to God that when I talk to them on the Nextel, my lips move but obviously no sound comes out because they never hear me.

Me: "Ambulance 15...we got the page..."

30 seconds later, Dispatch: "Ambulance 15 did you get the page?"

Me: "Ambulance 15...en route..."

Dispatch: "Ambulance 15 are you going with the page?"

Me: "Ambulance 15 we are on scene..."

About 5 minutes later, Dispatch: "Ambulance 15, what's your ETA?"

I just don't understand. Then my parter will talk to them, "Ambulance 15 we are leaving scene..."

Dispatch: "Ambulance 15 I've got you leaving scene."

What the hell gives? I must have an "invisible voice" because they never hear me. I thought for a millisecond that maybe they couldn't understand me because of my new found lisp from my tongue piercing. But then I remembered that they have been doing this to me for months.

My partner just laughs at me. As soon as the Nextel beeps I start cursing and then have a nice pleasant voice when I talk to dispatch. Then I release the D/C button and start cursing again. Then they ask me more stupid questions, which makes me continue to swear, sometimes louder, and throw the Nextel across the room. Sometimes I can't even bring myself to talk to them because I know it doesn't matter if I tell them I received the page, or that I am on scene, because they will still continue to ask if I got the page, and what my ETA is. I just can't win. At least if I don't answer the first time, I get some peace of mind because when they ask me what my ETA is, I just tell them, "-5 minutes, we're already on scene." Someday, maybe, they will answer my call...until then, say some prayers for the Nextel; I hope it lasts through the abuse.

(back dated)

23 January 2006

Break Dancing

Yeah, another day at the great old community college. I still feel like I'm trapped in a high school, but since I can't change that I have to make the best of it. I had jazz dance first. We did a name game where each person said their name and did a movement. We went around the circle and had to repeat the movements until everyone was done. Then we did it to music. We also did so exercises, stretching and floor movements. Our teacher even made us do break dancing moves across the floor to music. It was actually rather fun, and I realized that I am not quite as much of a klutz as I thought I was. I will still be bruised tomorrow because she made us do all sorts of normal stuff, such as walking, skipping, hopping, running, rolling, falling-all in a jazz style. My knees are going to pay for this.

I had abnormal psychology next. Another day of people misunderstanding illnesses, including my professor. I guess it is just that they have never seen anyone that actually had a problem before. People are always trying to relate medical illnesses to the class and I have to contain myself so that I don't burst and try to explain why they are wrong. I just need to keep it to myself and keep my definitions straight-not allowing their interpretations to interfere with what I know. Whatever.

I had an hour long break and I was back for more dance. Ballet was next. This class was also quite fun. I have the same teacher for this one as I do for my jazz class. We did many of the same exercises and we went to a stage with more floor space to do warm up and floor exercises. One thing I did realize is that I need to get tights and a leotard. Yeah...me in a leotard??? You have got to be kidding. Oh well. Hopefully I won't look too stupid because we are allowed to wear shorts over it. I guess I'll find out soon enough.

I had my English class at 1900. It is off to a weird start. My instructor went off on tons of tangents. We talked about history dating back practically to the start of mankind and then back to the present. We talked about Easter and why it doesn't make sense, the lunar calendar, zodiac signs, the sun, mythology about "the Lion King" and a bunch of other stuff that I had no idea about. I tend to keep my mouth shut in classes like these. I like things that are concrete and things that I know to be true before I speak out about them. I need facts. I don't like expressing opinions-especially ones that I am forced to create. Some of the things I am just not interested in, or I don't really care about, and therefore I have no opinion on. I am also clueless about nearly all history. For example, the last history class I took, I remember stating that the Boston Tea Party started World War II. Of course this was many years ago, but you get the point. If it doesn't have bearing on what I am doing right now, and I can't change it, I'm not especially interested in it. I am trying to change that by taking a history class this semester (yuck!).

Anyways, people were rambling the entire class period about dates and names and places like they knew every detail about they history of the world since day one. We shall see if this class gets any better. It is just so up in the air right now. It is very unstructured-which I don't care for. I like having a day to day syllabus so I can read prior to class and plan ahead. This class doesn't really allow for that. If it continues to be so "out there" I just might have Monday nights free again.

I'm back at the firehouse tonight. Hopefully we will get some calls. So far I haven't had any luck. Usually if we don't get one between 2200 and 2300, I am shit out of luck until 0300. If we get one then it is usually a true alarm ARA at a local motel that is always (I'm starting to get complacent) false, and everyone stumbles back off the engine 15 minutes later and heads back toward the bunks. Unfortunately I have been a "box rat" for my past several shifts, so I literally have seen nothing but the walls of the bunk room. I get this term from another fire department in the area that told my best friend when he tried to put the stretcher in the ambulance, "hey box rat...get back in your box." At his department the engine crew does all the lifting and when you get the patient into the rig you go in through the side and stay in your "box." You don't carry anything or do anything physical but walk. Not quite so here, but it feels like it sometimes. I am a "box rat" tonight (and the past few nights too) because I am a new firefighter and I am a somewhat seasoned medic. The only other medic that is working is an officer, so he will go on the engine and I will be stuck in my box. :( At least I know when I work daycrew I can usually jump on the engine without a fight. There aren't enough people at the station to cover both during the day, so whatever the call, I get to go (most of the time).

22 January 2006


I can't believe how late it is already. When my shift falls on a Sunday it is always up in the air as to whether we will be busy or slow. It is never in between. Today I am going with the latter. We did one call- a return to a nursing home for a 58 year old man s/p left BKA. It was a quick call and we were back in quarters...and we still are.

My tongue is killing me. I look like I am having an allergic reaction to something. It is so swollen :( I'm really not too sure what possessed me to do it. Oh well. (Just don't tell my mom...). I tried to eat some ice cream and soup, but two bites in I couldn't eat anymore.

I have slept for a considerable portion of the day. I didn't bring my school books, which was a stupid idea because I had plenty of time to study. I think I got myself in pretty deep this semester- 19 credits is going to kill me. Oh well. If the online class doesn't work out I guess it won't be too bad-I'll just have to eat the cost for the books. We shall see. I would like to finish all the classes if I plan on getting my degrees any time soon.
We did a couple other calls. All of which interrupted the night perfectly so I didn't get to sleep. We did a psych transport. The guy was in 4-point restraints when we got to the ER. The staff said he had "cooled down" so they removed the restraints. He was acting slightly odd, but he was okay for the ride. When we took him upstairs we told him to have a seat in the conference room and someone would be right with him-he slammed the door in my face. Nice. I talked to the security guard later at night after we returned from another call. I guess he was wandering into other patient's rooms and acting psychotic again so they had to medicate him and put him in the quiet room. Oh well. I ended up in Skokie once. Then another call about 1 1/2 hours later. Damn. Oh well. Another busy day of school ahead.
I have pictures of the fire coming soon; as soon as I get a chance to use my own computer.

20 January 2006


I got to class on time at 1100. It was somewhat interesting. I realized just how much different I am from my classmates. They were all awake and talkative-having just slept through another night. I had sped my way to the college for fear of being late, still in my uniform, I didn't get to shower, and I was on my second can of mountain dew AMP. Halfway through the lecture I cracked open my third. I was exhausted, but jittery from all the caffeine. I barely made it through the lecture without falling asleep.

I also noticed how much I know (or how little others know) about medical problems. We were talking about different psychological theories and one of the guys brough up diabetes. He was trying to associate it with what we were studying. It seemed to make perfect sense to him, my professor, and the rest of the class. Only, they don't know the disease process and how the body truly works. I almost spoke up and tried to explain why that was wrong, but decided against it because I'm sure nobody would understand what I was saying. So, I just kept to myself and enjoyed the rest of the class as people piped in about other assorted diseases that they didn't understand.

I had to drive 15 miles to get shoes for dance class. Wow are they expensive. Oh well. I ran a lot of errands and cleaned up the house. I hung out with a good friend of mine for most of the day.

We got a terrible snow storm. I knew it was coming but the TV said 3-5 inches. What they didn't say was that we should really expect about a foot and it is extremely heavy snow. Thank God my friend had 4-wheel drive on his jeep. We decided around 2100 to go to Wal Mart. We saw many people in the ditches, but no good accidents. We bought some saucers to go sledding with. We drove to both my fire department and his to say hi. His department had already ran 10 calls since the snow started falling around 1800. They were crazy busy. Most were for downed wires or transformers that had exploded, I think there might have been one or two rescue calls mixed in.

We are back at my apartment now listening to the pager. Hopefully we'll get something good-even if it's only to watch. By the time we would make it to the station in this weather we wouldn't make the first out engine/ambulance anyways.

Long Day

Wow. I don't think the day could have dragged out any longer. We did a lift assist at 0900. After that we did absolutely nothing until almost midnight.

Tonight was the first night of the EMT-B class that I teach for. I am stationed in the same building that it is taught at. I went downstairs to see what the cat dragged in this semester. There are about 75 students. I helped out ushering the students in and getting them settled in. Then I just hung out with the other instructors until almost 2200. Still no calls. I went back up to our "quarters" on the second floor. I tried to go to sleep, but sure enough we got a call. Our dispatcher told us that we had a call downstairs- a student from the paramedic class that was going on up on the seventh floor was having chest pain. Her boyfriend brought her down in a wheelchair to the ambulance. She had a cardiac history and was scheduled for surgery at the end of the month. We really couldn't do much for her-she had no veins and refused to let us use either of her ACs. So, with nothing for veins in her hand, and stable vitals, we just drove her to the hospital-practically BLS (besides the monitor).

We ran several other calls after that and had about an hour break. It was 0750 when I was awoken by the Nextel. We had a call...our off time was in ten minutes. They sent us on priority to a nursing home for "hypoxia." The woman had a history of internal bleeding among many other things, was extremely pale and had passed out twice prior to our arrival. The RN said that her oxygen sats dropped to 88% on two liters, so they put her on a NRB. She was at 100% when we got there. No problem. The RN had also noted a large lump under the woman's armpit and bruising on her breast and down the side of her ribs. It started two days ago. Hopefully it's not advanced cancer that they just didn't have the time to notice. I have taken her before. Last time she needed a blood transfusion. She was doing pretty well when we left.

I got out at 0945; just in time to leave for class.

17 January 2006

Sleep is Definitely Overrated

Another day with no sleep. I got back from work around 0900. My mom and brother came down today because my mom had an interview at a local hospital. My mom slept for a good portion of the morning because she drove all night to get here (over 320 miles). I took my brother on the grand tour of the town. He got to see the fire station I work at, the station for my ambulance company and all the wonderful parts of town. He hasn't been down here for years; since before I moved down here for college in the beginning of 2003.

I took my mom to her interview at 1600. I guess it went really well. If all goes well she will be moving down here within the month. She can't stand the weather and the "tiny town" atmosphere of northern Wisconsin. They had to leave right afterwards because she had to work overnight.

I had just enough time to shower and get my bag packed for work. I'm at the fire house tonight. I am hoping for calls, but no such luck yet. They toned out for a call that should have been ours, but for some reason they gave it to the next town over-the usual confusion on the borders. Oh well. Maybe more to come tonight. I just have to finish checking out the rig and work out my February schedule. Then maybe I will get some sleep. I start school tomorrow at 0930.

16 January 2006

Stinky Feet

Today was very busy. I am posting this late-as usual on a busy day. It started out rather slow with a transfer to cath lab from a local hospital to one about 13 miles away. Then we did an ALS MRI. This is when things started to turn for the worse. We picked up this girl that was only 20 years old and was going to rule out CVA. She was barely with it, just moaning every once in a while. We got her at 1315. Her MRI wasn't scheduled until 1500. So, we sat and waited (mind you she is on the cardiac monitor this whole time) until 1500 rolled around, and passed. The guy that was in the scanner was so obese that they had to add an extra 10 minutes to his scan to get enough views. The girl had been given valium before we left the hospital so that she would lie still during the test. Her left side was flaccid, but she was constantly moving her right. Needless to say, she didn't last through the scan. Her meds wore off and she wouldn't stop moving. Four hours wasted.

We had a slight lull in the afternoon before we got our asses handed to us. We did countless psych transfers. The first one was a guy that beat up his girlfriend; easy enough. One guy seemed pretty cool...until I got the full story. He had multiple problems including drug abuse and bipolar disorder. Then he decided to tell us that he thinks he has scabies and wondered if they tested him for it at the hospital. We just said, "probably not if you didn't tell them, but they will test you at the new hospital." I felt my skin crawling instantly. Another bad start to the night.

There was another guy in the ER when we left that was a psych. He had been there for quite a while-he was yelling many things, most of which I couldn't understand. His door was shut, and the nurse kindly told us that he was the next one to go. He was in four point restraints and wasn't a little guy, so we told her to request 2 guys-we didn't want any trouble. Yeah, she didn't do that. She also told us that he smelled really bad. I figured she was pulling my string, until she walked into the room with a mask on. Great. Sure enough as soon as we cleared from the previous transport we were sent for him. We heard the nurse receiving report on the psych floor. She told the ER to sedate him. We got there are he did seem a bit quieter. He would have short little outbursts punctuated by long pauses in which all his facial muscles would relax and he would just sit there with his jaw practically resting on his chest. Then he would repeat the cycle. The nurse gave him a "bath," although it didn't seem to help much. I still made my partner drive with the windows down. During the ride he would babble and I could only understand a word for about every 200 he said, such as "cigarettes," "mom," "basketball," and "Sopranos." He was talking a mile a minute. Although I know we shouldn't mess with a patient's mind, it seemed quite harmless. Our dispatcher made some comments to us about the call beforehand when we told her to call another crew because of his aggressiveness and just being a complete whack job. She didn't believe us and laughed it up. So, we dialed dispatch, got her on the line and told the patient that someone wanted to talk to him. He was like, okay then. So I handed him the phone and he was like, "Hey man, what's up?" And a whole lot of words I didn't understand, then "Ohhh...they hung up." The whole time she was still on the line. The best way to describe this guy is to refer to any movie that includes Jim Carey in it, such as "Liar, Liar," "the Truman show," or "Bruce Almighty," when he wigs out and he makes all those funny noises and faces while he is trying with all his might to either form words (Liar, Liar) or messing with others (Bruce Almighty). It took a lot to get through this call, but once it was over with and I didn't have to smell him anymore, I was good to go.

We then continued out the night with several other calls, which I don't remember most of. I do remember running an emergency call in the middle of the night for severe abdominal pain. Instead, when we got on scene the guy's catheter wasn't emptying properly and he was bleeding into the bag. Okay, not so bad. But, since we knew we would be out forever we decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and run it as an emergency call, after all it could be considered "internal bleeding." It was nothing major. We took him back to the nursing home 3 hours later.

We only did a total of eight calls; five after 2200. It was busy and I didn't get any sleep at all. Damn. Another busy day ahead of me. I feel like I haven't slept in days.

(back dated)

15 January 2006

Moving Up

Wow. Another wasted day off-as usual. I almost hate having days off. I always feel so un-productive (I don't even think that is a word). I actually accomplished a lot today, but it is nothing like the feeling of accomplishment I feel after a nice long day of work. Damn. Is that weird? Is there something wrong with me that I can't enjoy a day off? Oh well.

My roommate's old room is stilled all messed up. The maintenance guys and the painters are coming to see it tomorrow to see what they can do to fix it. I cleared out my closet early this morning (in my bedroom) and emptied out the rest of the room by 1300. Then I taped down the drop cloth and only got one wall primed before it was too dark to continue.

All my bedroom stuff had to be moved into the living room. It looks pretty odd. It reminds me of a lot of patients I take. You know, the ones that live in a two story house, or even a one story with tight hallways; they move the bed and other essentials into the living room or dining room because it is 1. on the first floor, and 2. it makes for easier access for the fire department or paramedics to get to the patient without having to take out a wall or use a stair chair. It makes me feel really stupid. Whatever. Soon enough this will all be over and my bedroom will actually be in the bedroom. Ugh.

I had another CO incident very late last night (early this morning). I was hoping the incident would blow over before I had to call in the fire department, but no such luck. My alarm starting going off in the living room, and both me and my friend that was over felt nauseous and had headaches (which we had been feeling for almost 12 hours at this point). We had just opened all the windows in the apartment and vented it out until it was too cold to continue. We did too good of a job I guess because by the time the fire department showed up they couldn't detect any CO and the detector stopped going off. Of course, they sent the ambulance too because we were having symptoms, so we both ended up signing AMA. Another wonderful day off.

Time to get my laundry and everything else done before I go to sleep. Another big day at the amublance company tomorrow.

14 January 2006

Friday the 13th

I'm back to work today. Yeah! It started out with a psych transfer at 0830. It was for a "homicidal" patient. Just what I need on my first day back-someone that wants to kill me. Oh well. While we were waiting for paperwork there was a lady down the hall that was calling out, "hello? Hello? Hello?" Over and over again. I predict she will be our next transfer. Maybe she was just holding her phone upside down, what do I know. It's good to see not much has changed. The patients are the same, the crews that I run into are the same, and the paperwork is never ready when we get there. Ahhh...life is good.
We are back in quarters. Welcome home. I forgot how uncomfortable my bed is. This is going to be a long shift-I feel like I just came out of retirement or something. It's good to be back.
We were actually busy for almost the entire shift. I had predicted a while back that my first day back would be filled with BLS, psych patients and fat people. I was completely right. We only got one ALS page for a patient that was confusted s/p falling. Yeah...it wasn't ALS at all, the guy had just been admitted and the nursing staff didn't know him. They just didn't want to deal with his problems. They said, "well, he was lethargic when he got here...he just seems more confused...he ripped open his old g-tube site but I steri-stripped it...we don't really know, he was just admitted this morning at 1130..." Yeah, so nobody knew anything, the guy was uncooperative, and after contacting the hospital (the one he just happened to have been discharged from), they said just to bring him in-no interventions needed. The guy flailed around on the cot so much that we had to wrap him up in a blanket like a burrito and secure the straps. He kept yelling at me (while I was giving report on telemetry); "You cut my legs off!" Good times.
We had a psych patient that was really crazy. She said that all cops and doctors are going to die...that we were cops there to take her away, and that all she needed was a shot of penicillin for her pneumonia and she would be fine. She also needed a gown so she could go to L.A. She said both my partner and I would be killed (because we were "cops").
We also did a few other basic transports. I don't remember them all. Mostly psych patients. When we took our last patient out of the local hospital, they still had 8 psych patients that needed trasfers. Surprisingly we didn't get any of them. The psych ward in town only had one more bed after the last patient we took there. It looks like the rest are headed for the city.
I think we only did eight calls altogether, but only two of them were before 2000; six were between 2000 and 0800. Yuck-a very long night.
Today I did absolutely nothing. I slept until 1400. I am now getting my apartment ready to paint and fix it up-seeing as my roommate's old room is in ruins and I need to repaint it. Now I am hanging out with a friend. I hope my CO detectors are working because we both have bad headaches and are nauseous. They aren't going off and I don't smell any natural gas or anything. I'd feel like an idiot if I called the fire department and they didn't find anything. I figure if one of us passes out I will call. Until then, I will suffer. I just don't want to look stupid. I already had one CO incident this year, and with my luck it would be the same crew that would show up this time.

11 January 2006


Today was going pretty well until I got a phone call from my mother around 1900. A prominent citizen in our community that was close to the family died this week. They think he died a couple of days ago, but aren't sure. Somebody called for a well being check after two days because he didn't show up at work (he owned a business). They found him dead. He was only 52. He left behind a 17 year old daughter and ex-wife (which he was still on really good terms with); they were my neighbors when I lived up there (in Wisconsin).

I am contemplating whether or not I will make the 325 mile journey up there tomorrow for his service. Logically, I probably shouldn't because of gas prices and me not working, and because I have to work at 0800 on Friday. But, on the other hand, I would like to be there for my neighbors and for my mother who will also be attending the funeral. I guess I will decide in the morning. I can always find coverage for the first 1/2 of my shift on Friday if I have to.

Other than that life is good. I am ready to get back to work. Hopefully I still fit in my uniform :). Yeah, that would definitely suck. Ha.

I can't believe that January is almost halfway over with already. I just realized that a week from tomorrow my third job starts-I start teaching for the EMT-B class again.

10 January 2006

Work Release

I went to the doctor today...and she cleared me for work! Yeah!!! I am so unbelievably happy right now :) I got back to my 24 hour shift at the ambulance company on Friday, and I am back at the fire department on the 17th. Ahhh....

I can't believe it is finally here-my psycho life has returned. I will write more tomorrow. I am going to go out and celebrate or something...

09 January 2006

Community Education

So close, yet so far to being back to work. I go to the doctor tomorrow. I am praying that I will be able to convince her to let me return to work. I am so ready. I did schedule my first physical therapy session, but unfortunately I know how they work. Once you're in physical therapy, it is up to them to release you-not your doctor; so basically if they decide I'm not 100% I don't go back to work. That would really piss be off. Oh well wish me luck.

In my time off I have had a lot of time (obviously) to think about my future. I am psyched about the new year. My classes will be great and I am ready to have my psycho schedule back. And, of course, I'm always looking for something else to take up more of my time (sleep is so overrated).

On Thanksgiving Day I posted about a incident I had in my apartment with Carbon Monoxide. I spoke with my management at my apartment complex a few times about it and I decided that I am going to do some sort of fire prevention/public education at the complex. The manager agreed that this would be a good idea. I have everything typed out-including handouts about smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, fire safety in the home, etc. I plan on putting on several nights of public education in my apartment community so that I can tell them my story and urge my fellow neighbors to take action and get CO detectors, check their smoke detectors, and have a plan if there ever is an emergency. I have also spoken to managment about fire drills, escape plans, setting up meeting places and fire prevention ideas that will dispersed in our monthly newsletters-to both my community (at Osprey Lake) and other communities owned by the same company.

I would also like to include my EMS skills including offering several nights a month for free blood pressure readings, and (once I am certified) offering free or very low cost CPR and first aid training.

I am depending on some of my fellow firefighters, EMTs and medics from my fire station, private amublance job, and other adjunct instructors to help me get this started- I think it will be a great learning opportunity for both myself and everyone else involved.

I never realized until just recently how much I enjoy teaching and sharing what I know with my community. I have been an adjunt instructor for a local EMT-B course for about a year or so; teaching practical skills, such as first aid, shock management, medical/trauma assessment, etc. I have always loved it and I think it is important that I share this with my own community outside of the classroom-free of charge. It is a small thing that I can give back to my community that has given so much to me.

So, wish me luck in my endeavors-hopefully I will get into the CPR and First Aid instructor classes so I can get my show on the road-literally. If all works out, I will be accepted into the National Fire Academy in June for a week long course on Fire Prevention and Public Education-my application is in, now I just have to wait. Cross your fingers :)

08 January 2006


Yeah, I haven't posted in a while. This is simply because my life has been absolutely boring. My roommate finally moved out. She just have to finish repainting her room, turn in her keys, and sign off on the lease and she's finally out of here. Unfortunately I got screwed-she didn't pay her rent or bills for the past months. Damn.

I start classes in 2 weeks. I just ordered my books. I am especially excited about my dance classes. I am going to finally be back to my extra busy schedule-just how I like it :). I go back to the doctor on the 10th- hopefully to come out of it with a work release. Then I can get back to my normal schedule; 24 hr shifts every 3rd day at the ambulance company, day/night shifts and training at the fire department (including ice rescue certification :) ), 18 credit hours worth of classes, teaching at the local EMT-B class 2-3 times a week, and in the spring I will start back at the local theme park. I also applied for a patient care tech job a a semi-local hospital to do in my free time. Other than that I've just been getting ready to go back to work and fire training. I started my regular work out schedule again today (30 minutes of stretching, 5 miles on the elliptical and 1 hour of weight training). I feel so much better. Wow. I forgot how much I loved it. Good times.

03 January 2006

Chest Pain

I drove him to Lake Forest Hospital. They got him in right away- ran a 12-lead, drew labs, did a chest x-ray- the whole nine yards. So far everything was negative. The bad news was that the doctor wanted to admit him to draw more labs, do a stress test, etc. He didn't like that too much (and I don't blame him). He decided he was going to sign AMA. The nurse was getting the paperwork ready and the doctor just had to finish up in another room before he talked to my friend.

Just before the nurse came in my friend stopped talking mid-sentence and had a funny look on his face, so I automatically looked at the monitor. He was throwing a PAC every beat, although I wouldn't normally associate that with chest pain-as soon as his pain went away so did the PACs. Weird. I went out and got the nurse-they did another 12-lead, which was still unchanged, but now he had to stay. We got him settled in his room and I stayed there until I was kicked out because it wasn't visiting hours. I was told to come back at 0800 (it was already around 0630). So, I went home and made Velveeta shells and cheese because he had been talking about it all night and I knew he wouldn't eat the hospital food, took a shower and made my way back to the hospital. They ran him around doing all kinds of tests. By the evening he was cleared to go-they changed his blood pressure meds because his old ones made him short of breath, and he was good to go. Whew. That was scary.

Time to rest. No more action hopefully for a while-I'm praying for good health. My cold still hasn't blown over from Sunday and it is going into my chest. Hopefully no pneumonia-I had enough of that last year.

02 January 2006

Bottles and Cans

Our last day in New York. That sucks. I woke up this morning to the smell of frying food, and Tony singing at the top of his lungs. It really wasn't what I would call a song, but rather a refrain that never ends; "Bottles and Cans, Cans and Bottles, Bottles and Cans, Bottles and Cans...." It finally quieted down after about twenty or so minutes of this.

We got somewhat of a late start. We wandered a bit throughout the neighborhoods and then we went out to Jones Beach. It is really beautiful there. We walked the boardwalk and took some pictures. Then we went into one of the warming houses to get breakfast. I had my first "egg sandwich." It was good. We walked around a bit more, decided it was way too cold and headed back to Huntington Station.

We thought we were flying out at 2000, but decided to look at the tickets to be sure. It was a good thing because we would have missed our flight-it left at 1830, arriving at Midway at 2000. Oops. We stopped at the place that Tony works at. He basically sorts out bottles and cans- 24 to a case, throws out the ones that the business doesn't sell, packages them onto pallets, totals up the value and gives the customer a receipt. We stood and watched for a while to see exactly what he does everyday because he tells us the oddest stories about it. Now I know that they are true. The people are ridiculous. I never realized how hot of a commodity cans and bottles can be. Some of the people would come back three or four times in one day-making well over $100. It could be a job in itself. I don't know where one would find so many bottles or cans, but what do I know. I throw them away with all my other garbage.

We went back to the apartment to get in a quick nap before we had to go to the airport. Tony returned shortly after we did. Then the grub followed...he knocked on the door and this is what I heard; Grub: "Can I have a cigarette? You know you love me." Tony: "...Yeah, I love you like a retarted son." I just thought that was really funny. The things that pop out of his mouth sometimes are unbelievable.

Our flight ended up running almost 30 minutes late due to weather in Chicago. All was good for the most part. Boarding the plane was okay, and we got seats next to each other. We flew on Southwest Airlines and there it is first come first serve seating. Kind of weird, but it worked out since there were 30 open seats on the flight.

This is where things got bad. The flight attendants started serving drinks, etc. when the captain announced that we might be hitting some turbulence. Okay, not too big of a deal, right? Wrong. Less than five minutes later the captain came back over the intercom, told the flight attendants to stop serving, seal everything up for landing and to get into their seats. It is never good when the captain starts telling the flight attendants what to do. Then I saw a couple of flight attendants with worried looks on their faces whispering to each other. Another flight attendant yelled at a guy sitting behind us because his cell phone was on-he was just playing games. Yeah, that can't be good. Then I figured out why. We started to get into some really bad turbulence. At one point my butt wasn't even on my seat anymore. The whole plane was shaking-I thought for sure that we were going down. This must have lasted for quite a while; I could feel us dropping altitudes to get out of the worst of the storm-the next thing I new we were descending and getting ready to land. Thank God. We had to land using instruments only because it was so foggy.

I heard later from some friends that no flights were allowed to leave Chicago due to the storm and fog. We were one of the only flights that was actually allowed to land-most were forced to land elsewhere and layover until the storm passed.

I was extremely relieved once we hit ground. It scared me at first because by looking out the window I couldn't tell we were landing-it was too foggy. The jolt took me by surprise and my heart jumped into my throat. We had to wait about 20 minutes for our gate to open up-another plane was still in it. While we were sitting on the runway my friend said, "I have to tell you something. I couldn't tell you while we were flying because you were already too scared. I got really bad chest pain that ran into my left arm and I felt like I was going to pass out." I was just like, "Shit. Why didn't you tell me? You need to go to the hospital...this isn't the first time this has happened and we aren't screwing around anymore." He didn't want to go-he said the pain was gone already and he felt fine. Great-so here comes a five hour fight to get him to go to the hospital.

We made our way off the plane and to the baggage claim. The whole way I was trying to convince my friend to go to the hospital. He said, "it's only a little bit of angina-no big deal..." And I responded, rather loudly, "what the hell do you think angina is a F***ing musical?" I got a lot of funny looks-but whatever. I had to do something to convince him to go. He is an EMT and knows perfectly well that chest pain isn't normal. I'm a medic so I thought I would try to explain maybe a little bit more the difference between angina (such as chest pain on exertion that goes away at rest) and true chest pain that is more worrisome-such as pain at rest, radiating to the left arm and jaw, sweating, weakness, etc.

We got onto the EL and ended up getting off at the wrong stop. That is a whole story in itself. I tried to be smart and push my big bag through the little turnstyle and get me, my backpack and laptop through all at once-bad idea. my foot got caught on my bag that was on the ground. My leg pushed the turnstyle so that my other leg was caught. It was all going in slow motion; I was diving head first into the concrete floor over my bags as the turnstyle caught me other leg from below. Yeah. I landed with a huge thud-my glasses flew off my face. I was laughing my ass off- hoping that once I got up I wouldn't be hurting. It turned out to be okay- I had a little bump on my head and I will probably have a few bruises, but it was worth the laughs. The best part was that the lady behind the ticket window didn't even bat an eye at me. She acted like she saw this everyday. Maybe she does.

We had to walk a few blocks to get to Union Station but we made it. My friend was still adamant about not going-I was not giving up my fight. I spoke with him briefly on the train about it and I said I wasn't going to force him. We got to Round Lake, got a taxi, and went back to his house. I threw my luggage in my car. He knew he was defeated when I took the extra effort to get my bags into the back seat of my 2-door car. I got him into the ER and I will tell the rest in my next entry.

01 January 2006

Lazy Day

We got a very, very late start today. We didn't get up until about 1300. I still had a splitting headache. I have never gotten a hangover before, but it is what I would imagine it to be like. I just wanted to lie back in bed. I could tell as soon as I stood up that I had gotten myself sick from standing out in the cold yesterday. My nose was stuffed up, my sinuses hurt, I was coughing, my throat hurt, and my lungs felt really heavy. I really hope this doesn't turn out to be more than a cold; the last time I felt like this it turned into pneumonia. Great-let's hope that doesn't happen. Either way, colds always last a lot longer, and are more severe with me than most other people. I'm not quite sure why, but I attribute it to the fact that I have asthma. Oh well.

I got up anyways. I took a shower and felt a little bit better. Since we had blown most of the day sleeping we had to make a quick decision as to what to do with our few hours of daylight. we ended up going to Huntington Manor Fire Department which is just down the road from where we were staying. When we got there we ran into two police officers; in that part of Long Island they do shift changes at fire stations because it is more convenient. One of the officers took us over to the dispatch center and introduced us to one of the firefighters.

The guy was really nice. He showed us all the apparatus, which once again, was amazing by my standards. They seemed to have even more apparatus than West Islip. They also have two other stations. They had at least 2 engines, 2 trucks (with a brand new 3rd in the shop), a heavy rescue vehicle, a smaller version of an engine to fit into the parking garage, a dump truck, a fire police vehicle, command vehicles, and a huge semi-truck cab for towing the engines if need be. I think they also had some other stuff, but I can't remember everything. Like West Islip, they had company lounges which where set up very similar.

We got to see the memorial that is set up for their previous Fire Chief who was lost on 9/11 with F.D.N.Y. Squad 4. He wasn't even supposed to be working that day-he was called in to cover someone else. His wife went into labor with their child on the day of his funeral. It was really sad. Another town close by (Dix Hills) also lost their Fire Chief-he was found with the Chief from Huntington.

Another firefighter walked in as we were getting the tour and offered to take over. He was an officer on the hook and ladder company. He showed us around the rest of the building-which was absolutely huge. We saw the upstairs first. Their kitchen even put West Islip's to shame. It had just been redone. They had commercial everything-even their pots and pans looked like they cooked for an army on a daily basis. They even had a deep fryer like they have at fast food restaurants and a walk in freezer/fridge. They also have a dumbwaiter in the kitchen to get from the basement up. The guy giving us a tour told us when they have parties he likes to climb into it wrapped in a garbage bag and ride it from the basement up. He especially likes it when someone opens it and he pops out of the bag :). Around the corner was a huge wet bar, dance hall, and auditorium. The rest of the upstairs area was made up of offices. They also had an elevator-just in case you don't want to take the stairs.

He then proceeded to show us parts of the first floor that we missed. We saw the "miniature kitchen" that is even bigger than the kitchen at my fire house. They also had a TV and huge table in the room- it is right off the bay floor. He then proceeded to take us downstairs to show us the rest of the station. There was another kitchen, wet bar and sitting area with a huge TV. There was also a pool table, shuffle board and poker tables; not including all the regular tables. I was in awe. The guy was like, "this bar is for the rowdy crowd...there really isn't anything down here they can break...we use it mostly for super bowl parties-that kind of stuff." Yeah. The closest thing we have to a "bar" in my station is the bar stools that are up against the counter in the kitchen.

We went outside and took pictures of the outdoor memorial and the building. We also swapped out patches, t-shirts, and got local "fire news" newspapers. We also talked about the normal stuff-like the type of nozzles and hose they use, what they use as a preconnect, if you are assigned a specific task according to your place on the truck/engine, etc. I was surprised by the differences in Huntington and West Islip. Huntington uses a 1 3/4 pre-connect with an interchangeable nozzle (it can flow anywhere from a straight stream to a fog stream). West Islip uses 2 1/2 pre-connect, and they swear by a smooth bore nozzle. West Islip has defined exactly what apparatus and position you will take-such as if you are an "engine guy" you will be on the engine for the call. In Huntington, you could be on the truck or engine, but whatever the call came in for, you got on that apparatus and assumed that position, regardless of which company you are on (Hook & Ladder, Engine, Rescue, etc.).

We also discussed the "passport" or "tag" system. At my department (and all the departments around me that I know of) we use the passport system, with our names attached with velcro to the inside of your helmet. There are several there, and when you get on the apparatus, your passport gets stuck on another larger piece of velcro in the rig. Usually you have 3-4 passports so that one stays on the apparatus, one stays on your helmet, and one goes to the incident commander. In Long Island they use a tagging system that is basically a plastic tag (much like a drivers license) that clips onto their jacket. It has their picture on it, and info such as height, weight, etc. This gets turned into command on a call. It is interesting to see things from a different perspective than I am used to.

By the time we left Huntington Fire Department it was already dark out. We drove around a bit, stopping at my friend's old hang out places, and we visited with one of his old neighbors. Then we did the "one stop shopping" at 7-11 to get sandwiches and stuff for dinner.

I called it a really early night. My friend stayed up to entertain Tony. He ran out to the store while I was sleeping. When he came back into the parking lot he used the second entrance instead of the first one- not realizing that the curb was really high. He ended up going up and over a section of the curb to make it into the parking lot. It messed up the rental car pretty good-scratched up the hubcaps and dislodged a piece of the car below the doors. Tony and my friend looked at it afterwards and decided to fix it. The called it something that I can't really repeat because I don't like the word, but I'm sure you can figure it out. They "n***** rigged it." They used gasket sealant and propped it up with some newspapers and an old briefcase that was lying in the parking lot-allowing it to set over night. They also fixed the door that the grub kept using to get back inside the building. He would unlock the inside locks of the door so that he wouldn't need a key to get in (there are two doors-one that is locked and one that has locks on the inside track of the door. It is basically always locked except when people are moving furniture etc.). They filled the lock with gasket sealant and covered it up completely. He won't be getting back into the building for a while :).

He even took Tony up to the roof so that I could get some sleep without listening to Tony's stories through the walls. I don't even know what time it was when I was woken up. It was rather late. My friend was in the bathroom, at like a bunch of idiots we had put the light bulb back in the lamp. Tony opened up the door, turned on the light and asked, "are you awake." I was like, um...yeah, let me think about that, "No!" He said, "you need to look at this...what does this look like to you?" In my line of work, whenever someone asks me to look at something I politely decline. I opened up my eyes and he was holding something like 2 inches from my face. Once again he said, "what does it look like to you?" It was a dish towel with cookies on it...so that is what I told him. He said, "No...it looks like a teddy bear bending over...ha, ha, ha." Then he stumbled back into the other room and shut off the light. Good night to you too. My friend came back out of the bathroom, yelled at Tony, took the light bulb back out of the lamp and went to bed. Ahhh...all is quiet in the building.

Click headline for top content from Firehouse.Com
The Web's Community & Resource
for Fire, Rescue, EMS & Safety