27 February 2006

Red Light...Green Light

The oncoming crew was late getting back. I got stuck doing station duties for an hour and a half. After they got back we stayed in quarters for about a half an hour. Then the fun started.

The first call...I can't even remember. I did a call for abdominal pain from an acute care center to an ER. Uneventful. I think we did a few BLS returns too. I can't recall. I'm too tired.

We ran to another hospital to pick up a blood pressure cuff that was left on a patient earlier in the day. Then we sat for about an hour, holding a hospital parking lot. We got our first call going to the city. An infant with a fever for five days, going to the Children's hospital. Then we cleared up and went right to another call for a fever in a nursing home. The woman was more lethargic than usual according to the RN and had a fever of 100.3. We transported to a city hospital. We made it all the way back up north, and had just gotten into quarters. They needed us for another transport to Children's. This time for an eye laceration. The three year old needed surgery. He tripped and fell into a dresser-head first. The corner cut his eyelid, and into the muscle; which would no longer function. On the way to Children's, I had my first run-in with the cameras at red lights. There are two lights, spaced only about 30 feet apart on one of the main roads that I took. The first light turned yellow, but I wasn't going to slam on the brakes. I slowed down so I could stop without jolting my parter and patient at the second light. This made me slow down through the first intersection, causing me to prolong my time in the intersection. Needless to say, I was still in the intersection when the light turned red. It looked like a lightning storm or the paparazzi were after me. The whole intersection lit up with probably 30 different flashing white lights. I had been caught on camera in a red light. Uh oh. There was no way I could have avoided it. I had to write up an incident report on it in case they try to fine the company (or me), because I wasn't running hot...I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I headed back up north again. We got a call for a patient in the "standby ER" with abdominal pain. Easy enough transport. We did a dialysis call-direcly out of the ER. We got back to quarters, shut off the lights, and got our final call of the day at 0615. It was for a fall at a nursing home about 20 minutes away. The lady had a laceration above her left eyebrow and was complaining about shoulder pain...amongst every other pain possible (leg, neck, back, arm). We took her to a hospital about 15 minutes west of there. I cleared up at 0745. My dispatcher told me we had another call-just a bounce across town. Personally, I was sick of being held over. By the time I would even get to quarters without the call, it would be at least 0815-not including paperwork. We spoke with our oncoming crew and they agreed to take the call. We got back to quarters, I did my paperwork, and I was out the door by 0850.

25 February 2006

Busy Week

I have been running my ass off all week. My apartment is finally starting to look better. I got one room completely painted. Finally.

Work was crazy too. I worked shift on Monday and we got our butts kicked. I think we only ran maybe seven calls in 16 hours, but I was in the city, out west, in Wisconsin...all over the place.

Thursday's shift wasn't too bad. We ran about 5 calls in 24 hours. Nothing too exciting.

My hands are still messed up-especially my right one (thank God I'm left handed!). The swelling has gone down, but my skin is peeling. Yucky. I got feeling back in my left hand by Monday morning. My right hand is really weak; it feels like I had a stroke. I can't hold anything without dropping it, and it hurts to squeeze anything. My palm and thumb are really swollen; the base of my thumb (by the palm of my hand) is bruised. I'm not too sure what that is from. I found multiple other bruises-most of which I can identify the cause. My knees are bruised and swollen, but that is definitely from crawling through debris. My left elbow is bruised-that is from bashing it into an electrical conduit while breaching a wall. Good times. I look like a victim of abuse. I guess I am, but it is self inflicted...just not on purpose.

I went up to northern Wisconsin on Friday morning. I had to move more of my Mom's stuff. I also visited with some family that I haven't seen for nearly a year. We got back tonight. I'm back on shift in the AM.

19 February 2006

Hard Work

I feel like I aged 20 years overnight. I got to the firehouse at 0645 for training. We left around 0700 to the house we are using in the next town over. It is freezing cold outside; I have under armour and several layers on, including my turnouts, and I think my core temperature is still right around 90. Damn.

My first drill was on the roof. The house has a very steep roof...and I'm not too fond of heights if I am not tied off. There was about a 6-8 foot gap between the ladder I used to get up on the roof and the roof ladder. Yeah...not so good. I was praying that I would make it to the ladder with my tools in hand, rather than crashing to my death on the frozen ground. I could feel my boots slipping as I inched up the side of the roof. It seemed to take forever, but I finally got the pike pole hooked on the ladder and I was able to pull myself up a little better. Whew. And that was the easy part. I still had to make it to the very top. It wasn't too bad. I sat over the peak of the roof and started chopping away. I chopped with the axe from one side of the roof, over the beam, and to the other side. Then I switched places with my partner and I tore off shingles. Then it was time to power up the chain saw and cut ventilation holes. I have trouble started the chainsaw on the ground...let alone on the roof. It got started and I actually had a pretty good time. The only bad part about being on the roof for about an hour was the wind hitting my face. It was hovering right around 0 degrees and my skin felt like it was burning off. I guess two days in a row out in this weather probably wasn't such a good idea. Oh well.

I went through a station that we pulled ceiling, floors and walls-the same way we would be looking for fire extension and for investigation purposes. There was a mouse in the floor. It came out when I started to pound on the boards with the axe. Yuck.

The next station we broke windows and talked about ventilation. We also breached walls, and dragged a "downed firefighter" across the floor, and up and down the stairs.

I was completely exhausted by the end. My back was tense and I couldn't feel my fingers or toes. During one of the evolutions, when it came time to remove our masks, I couldn't do it. My fingers refused to tighten on the connection, and my officer had to undo it.

I was glad when the time came to pack up and go home. There was lots of cleaning to do at the station, but it only took about an hour or so. Both of my hands are swollen and they refuse to warm up. Hopefully they won't hurt too bad tomorrow.

Now it is time to relax. My mom came into town today and I have to get her settled in.

18 February 2006

Women's Fire Training

I got to the fire station at 0500. Way too early in the morning for me. We got on the bus at 0530. There were four of us from my station and three women from other stations in the county (that actually rode with us). I was excited that I was going to be riding in the short bus today, but I was disappointed when a short charter bus arrived. Oh well...window licking is overrated.

It took us about two hours to get to Frankfort, IL. We had a short introduction and then we broke out into our groups. My first group was on saws and torches. I got to use several saws and two different torches. I used a chain saw for the first time. Then I had forcible entry. The best thing I discovered was a device that you put on the middle or lower hinge in the door and it will hold it open. The best one was circular, and it barely let the door close at all; maybe two inches or so from the fully open position. We also discussed a lot of problems that they have with high rises in the city, and of course, customer service.

We had a break for lunch, which included a speaker. She was a Salt Lake City firefighter that won the world-wide combat challenge four years in a row, then retired. Shorly after, another competitor from Houston was killed in a fire-she was trapped when the roof collapsed in a McDonald's. At the funeral, our speaker was approached by the woman's sister who asker her if she would consider competing one more time for her fallen sister. Of course, she agreed, and went on to win once again with a time of 2:22. It was a touching speech, and we saw all the video clips from news programs covering the story.

My next class was SCBA entanglement. This was probably my most informative class. We went through a maze that was comparable to others I have been in-for the first 15 feet or so. There were tight spaces, studs that were only 12 inches apart (I even got through without dumping my pack!), a "victim" that we had to drag around corners and through obstacles, and wires. Yeah, the wires were the worst. I came across a wire. I thought to myself, not to bad. Of course it was dark, so I couldn't see ahead of me. There was a whole section of wires hanging just ahead and one was connected to the floor. I nearly made it through without dumping my pack, but I ended up getting way too stuck, so I dumped it and continued. There were a few more wires and a few corners before the end. I could see the light...and where it was coming from. It was a square opening-about 1' by 1', if that. I got through with no problem. I was glad when it was all over with. My air pack's bell started ringing toward's the end and I couldn't even hear my partner talking (hers was going off too).

My last class was flashover. We had a short classroom portion and then we headed out to the flashover simulator. It was probably one of the coolest things I have seen so far. We watched the fire from the beginning. We lit a small fire in a burn barrel in a corner and let it go. The smoke wasn't very dark at first, but you could see the layering, and the air flow. The air up above was flowing away from the fire, and you could see the smoke just above us getting sucked back towards the fire. Eventually, the room got dark with smoke-we could barely see the fire. Then we could see a slight glow,then the whole room got bright, and I could see flames rolling above us. Within seconds everything was on fire-it looked like a movie. It was awesome; I didn't want to knock it down-even when it got really hot. It was just too beautiful. We let it flash about 7 or 8 times before we finally vented the room. It was probably my favorite class. And I smelled like fire :)

I was back on the bus around 1700 and got home around 1845. I was beat and ready to rest...at least until 0600 tomorrow.

16 February 2006

Snow blower

Yeah. Last night was a good one. I got rather drunk and "drunk dialed" a few more people than I thought I did. At least most of them thought it was funny. I got up at 0900 to start out the day. I didn't accomplish much-just cleaning and getting ready for my long weekend.

I left for work around 1915. The roads were pretty slick; it had been raining all day and now it was freezing. Great. Besides the fact that my car normally slides all over the road-I still have that stupid spare tire on it.

I was about 2 miles away from home, driving about 45 miles an hour. There was a pickup truck in front of me. The pickup truck hit a bump and, in slow motion, something rather large flew out of the back. It was a snow blower. I felt all my muscles tense up; I was preparing for the thing to fly through my windshield and hopefully not kill me. I thought about closing my eyes but it was in slow motion and full speed all at once. I was pissed because it would make me late to work. I slammed on the brakes and watched the metal scrape the pavement. Sparks were flying everywhere and pieces of the snow blower scattered all over the road. My brakes were squealing as I came to a stop-halfway in my lane and halfway in the oncoming lane. I missed it. Whew. Onward to work. The truck never even stopped; like they didn't notice that this huge machine just flew out of the bed. Besides my heart skipping a few beats, I was okay, and so was my car.

The fire house has been quiet. Hopefully we'll get something. I'm up for some good action.

15 February 2006

My Valentine

My car is a piece of crap. Yeah. I was driving home and I heard a bad noise; it reminded me of the noise the wheels on the cot make when we reach or go over the weight limit. I knew the light I was at was long, so I my car in park and got out-yeah, my tire was flat. I had to drive like a block or so before I could park because there is no emergency lane on that road. Great. I found out today that they can't fix it. The guy at the tire place said that I could refill it and put it back on but it would probably blow off the car in a day or so. That would suck, so I guess I will just keep the spare on and hope it doesn't fly off when I hit 50 mph :)

Wow. This is the first year in a long time that I actually celebrated Valentine's Day. I won't say much more...it has been a good year. Let's just say that I will be going to a spa for a day...

Work was, well, work. We were really slow all day. We did a psych call from the regular psych ward to one run by the government. Then we did a call from our post to the ER for a guy that was sent over for occupational health, but the nurse decided to send him back by ambulance, instead of by car, because he would get seen quicker. Gotta love it. Our last call was from the ER to the psych ward. I had seen the lady earlier in the ER; she was loud, obnoxious and telling the staff to "call the cops." What a wonder drugs can do. She slept the whole way there and barely woke up long enough to slide into bed. Unfortunately, when her meds kicked in, she still had her food tray, and she fell asleep with her head in her plate. Yuck. She smelled like moldy food.

Of course, on the nights that we don't run, I can't sleep. Every time I almost fell alseep I thought I heard the Nextel go off; it never actually did. What a stupid night. I got off at 0730 so I could run some errands before I went to school.

School went well today. My dance classes were pretty fun-especially jazz. We were doing swing and the "Lindy." Good times. There is a thing at the Willowbrook ballroom on Sunday that I may go to. It sounds like fun. I found out in my psych class that I can't make up my test until the end of April. Yeah, that sucks. Oh well, it's one less thing I have to worry about this week. Ballet was good too-but I was pretty tired by the end of it. My body just didn't want to move anymore by 1300.

Good night ahead. I plan on getting drunk...and hopefully not getting any noise complaints from my neighbors.

12 February 2006


I slept for the first couple hours of shift. We got our first call around 1200. It was a priority for a lethargic patient. I have had more calls for "lethargy" in the past two weeks than I have in the past year. Anyways, it took us about 15-20 minutes to get on scene. The nursing home that we were going to can only be accessed from the north-bound lanes. Unfortunately there is a concrete median, so you have to pass the nursing home, go to the next intersection, due a U-turn and head back north to the place. I feel pretty stupid every time.

We got on scene and found a 75 y/o female with a history of mental retardation that was usually aphasic, that was now "more lethargic." Okay, I'll give them that. They had her on four liters of oxygen on a simple mask, and they had tried to get a line twice and failed. Of course they used all the good veins and left me with nothing. The RN said that the lady hadn't eaten in a couple of days. She was diabetic. The lady's glucose was 71 at 1200. I took it again and I got 59; borderline, so I gave a unit of glucagon IM. We got her packaged and down to the rig. Her oxygen sats were in the low 90s, so I put her on a non-rebreather, and they went up to about 95%, which I can deal with. I took her glucose again-54. Okay, that's not supposed to happen. Her blood pressure was also only 80/42, and without a line all I could do was put her in Trendelenburg.

The hospital is south of the nursing home, and there is the same problem with the median. On the way to the hospital you have to go north about 1 1/2 miles and do a U-turn to go right past the nursing home again and head towards the hospital. We got about 1 mile from the hospital when things started to go downhill. I didn't even have time to call the hospital back with an update. Her sats started dropping into the 70s and she started breathing rather slow and shallow. I switched over to a BVM and she was back up in the 90s. Whew. I wanted to check her glucose again, but I didn't have enough hands, and we were pulling into the ER. The staff freaked out when we came in. From my report, they knew that her blood pressure was low, I didn't have a line, but other than that, her problems were taken care of for now. I had about three nurses and two doctors in the room with us. We moved her over to the ER bed, a nurse took over bagging the patient while I gave my report, and I got out of the room so that I could finish my report and get out of the way. They took her glucose again-32. Yikes. No wonder she didn't feel like breathing. They got a central line on her, and about 5-10 minutes later her glucose was about 100; they stopped bagging her and she was doing good. Talk about a good first call of the day.

We did a transfer to a nursing home out of the same hospital right away. We got back to quarters around 1600. I did one more call around 2100 for a return to a nursing home from a local ER. It was a boring call. I was just ready to transfer care over to the nursing home staff because he wet himself, probably several hours before we got him, and he reeked of urine. Oh well. Hopefully a quiet night ahead.

11 February 2006

Polar Plunge

Today was a real surprise. It seemed quite nice when I left home-sunny, not too cold, and clear. It had clouded up by the time I got to the firehouse, but I still believed that it would be a nice, or at least bearable day. We got all our gear ready and headed up to Wisconsin at 0900.

Once we got to the site at 0930, we suited up and tested out the suits in the water. A few of us were new to the whole "dive/rescue" thing, so we took our time to get used to how the suit feels. It is necessary to explain the suit, because I currently don't have any pictures. They weren't the nice dive suits, because those of us that weren't actually "diving" wore ice/cold water rescue suits. If you have ever seen a level A hazmat suit, these look very similar. They are big, yellow, and hard to walk in. Needless to say it did keep me somewhat warm for the first hour or so. Five of the divers actually did a dive for about 30 minutes under the ice; I was a tender on one of the lines. I don't recall my hands getting cold. Instead they started to hurt. The last of the divers were getting out when the first groups started to jump.

After we cleaned up the dive site we all went down to the beach where the rest of our rescuers were. I was standing/floating in about 5-6 feet of water, helping people get to the shallower area so they could walk out. I was very surprised that nobody got hurt. There were a few older people that I thought for sure I would have to do CPR on, but all went well. The last of the jumpers went around 1430. Of course, the jokesters we all are, we had to be dancing with the music in our suits, playing with the rescue board (including a few people taking it about 50 feet out where the ice started), and jumping.

About 5 minutes after the jumping started, it started to snow and get colder outside. By the time the second or third group was going it was practically a white-out. Even though the dry suits were nice, they didn't prevent my face from getting splashed with every jump and being covered in snow for 6 hours. Oh well, it was a good time and for a good cause (special olympics).

Me and one other firefighter decided to do the plunge...in our dry suits. More info about the suits. When you put them on they are really baggy, but as soon as you get in the water, the air rushes out and you are left with a relatively skin-tight outfit. Generally, when you wear these suits, you walk into the water, allowing the air to gently escape through the top of the suit by your head. Let's just say it doesn't quite work that way when you jump into the water. When we jumped in, we both blew up like something inside the suit inflated. I really wish I could get the pictures on here for full effect. We looked like we were all shoulders-having had all the air out of the entire suit violently forced into the chest and shoulders with no escape; we had both fastened the top of the suit that covers your head and part of your face. It was really funny.

I was sopping wet by the time I got out of the suit. Three of us looked like we peed in our pants. The suit can get rather uncomfortable if you wear the face/neck zipped up for too long, so most of us unzipped it a small amount. That wasn't such a good idea. The water ran all the way down from the top of my suit, and I could feel it running down my leg within seconds of dipping too far in the water or rolling over because my ankle weights weren't keeping my feet weighed down enough. Every time I would try to move my legs would float up from below and try to flip me. Back paddling, I learned, was the only way to go. Damn. I wish I would have learned that before hand. At least I wasn't the only one that was soaked.

After we were all cleaned up we went back to the station to clean the suits, our vehicle and other assorted diving gear. Then I headed home to dry my clothes and get back to the station by 1700 for shift. We didn't run any calls; we only picked up some supplies from a local hospital that we needed for one of our ambulances. I studied for a couple hours and it was time to go home. Now that I am home, I plan on getting some sleep. I will probably pop a few Advil and call it an early night. My face is really wind-burned and rather puffy. Hopefully it won't look so bad in the morning, otherwise I feel sorry for my patients.

10 February 2006


I actually woke up rather early this morning. Well, early for me. I drove to a neighboring (sort of) town to pick up an application for the municipal ambulance service. Hopefully that will work out. Or at least something will.

I have decided that I will most likely be transferring into the city. They get better calls (and more of them) down there anyways. I am not looking forward to the 65 mile commute, but I guess I have to do what I can until I turn 21. I think the traffic will be less stressful than the situation I am in currently.

I went for my spyrometry (I don't think I spelled that right...) and auditory tests today. The spyrometry was okay. I thought my head was going to pop off by the third go around. I don't know if you've done it before, but they make you take a deep breath and then make you exhale as quickly and much as possible. It made my lungs hurt.

Then I waited about 15 minutes for the auditory exam. This was the best part. I haven't had one since I was in grade school. And when they did it then, you went in a quiet room with practically sound proof headphones on. Those I actually think worked. This time it was a joke. I was in a regular exam room. They gave me crappy headphones; I could hear the traffic outside, the secretary on the phone...it was ridiculous. I just sat there and hit the button at random intervals. The woman handed me a form to bring back to the fire house. It said, "passed." What the hell? I thought for sure I had failed-I think I only heard the sound once or twice; and those times I thought my ears were just ringing. Great test. It was loads of fun.

I had my Hazmat awareness test tonight...again. Second try is a charm, right? I'm not so sure how I did. There were 57 questions...I finished in 15 minutes. Yeah, so I hope I didn't fail again. I don't think my Chief would be impressed.

09 February 2006

Another Day

Another day on shift. Right off the bat we got a priority call in Deerfield. Almost 20 miles later or so we were on scene. It was the same nursing home that we joked about previously for deciding to check on their patients for once. This call was for a lethargic patient with a fever. Nothing too good. The nursing home said her blood pressure was 80/60, but we got 114 systolic. She was already being treated for pneumonia, and other than being pretty much unresponsive, she was doing good as far as we could tell.

Then we did a call for a doctors' appointment. We took this 380 pound lady, who only needed a wheelchair van, on our stretcher to the doctor. The doc was in awe that the nursing home asked for an ambulance. Thank God she let us keep the patient on the stretcher for the exam. Whew. That was a long one.

I think I did another one up north, and then I headed back south. One of the hospitals was "dumping." There were at least four rigs from my company in and around the ambulance bay. We took a 20 year old to Evanston for psych. He seemed like a good kid.

I can't talk about most of the rest of the day...I have a feeling the information would get to the wrong place and I would be out of a job. Let's just say that I plan on transferring stations; if not companies. I am sick of the bullshit. Anyways, I didn't finish out the shift and I got home around 2300.

08 February 2006

Customer Service

School again today. My classes were uneventful, as usual. The only thing I did notice is that my muscles don't hurt so much after class anymore and I'm getting more flexible. It's about time. I will be buff by summer :).

I got out of school around 1430 and headed home. Once again, I didn't get a whole lot done, but maybe shift will be slow tomorrow and I can work on it. I am such a procrastinator...Ugh.

I went to fire training at 1800. Tonight was a lecture on customer service-taught by a Captain from a neighboring department. His lectures are usually pretty good, but tonights was especially so. I can't wait until I get to use some of his suggestions out in the community. I especially love working with kids, and I think this just might be my chance. I tried to get into a class at the National Fire Academy for the summer, but my application was too late. Instead, I am taking several certificate courses online through the NFA, including public education.

I am back on shift tomorrow. It doesn't even feel like I had any time off. It seems like I've been saying that a lot recently. My doc put me on Ambien, so hopefully I will get some decent sleep. I'm sick of being tired all the time.

I thought I was completely off on Friday, but I remembered that I had a physical for the fire department at a local clinic for spyrometry and auditory testing, and then I have my state Hazmat test at 1900 in Mundelein. Saturday I am working at a "Polar plunge" in Wisconsin-working in an ice rescue suit and helping people out of the water. They are trying to find certified divers to do it because several of us that are going aren't divers, but either way I will be there. A few of our guys are jumping, so if I don't work there, I will probably take the dive with them. Only time can tell.

07 February 2006

Road Trip

I got off around 0900. Yet another day of being held over. Whatever-I'm off until Thursday. Yeah! The only bad thing is that I had to lug myself to Elmhurt today to get my banking account squared away.

The trip was actually not too bad. By the time I left there wasn't too much traffic. The only bad part was that the "open tolling" is in effect, and I don't have an I-PASS; basically I had to go into the lane furthest to the right and wait in line and a toll booth. I didn't realize it, but it is like 38 miles to Elmhurst. Wow. The bank fixed my debit card and is sending me a new pin; they also reordered my checks, got me signed up for online banking, and I used a temporary check to transfer funds. Whew. I'm glad that's over with. Banks are right around the top of my list of least favorite places to go. Also up there are post offices and the hospital.

I didn't accomplish much after that. I ran a few errands, such as purchasing the paint for my apartment. The paint store was really cool. I guess the store is mainly for contractors; he said, "you're a firefighter? I'll give you contractor's price." Nice. I only spent $30 for $65 worth of paint-the day is getting better.

I also tried to do some homework, but I made very little progress. I kept getting distracted. Oh well. I will get some sleep and try again tomorrow.

Back to school, back to school...

06 February 2006


I spent my first 8 waking hours at school. It went relatively well...I'm still glad I'm done until Wednesday.

I got to work at 1500. Right away I got a call for a return to a nursing home-nothing special. The lady had a hip fracture and was going for rehab. We were told to post a hospital about 10 miles away and right before we got there they cancelled us. We sat at the station for a while getting some paperwork done and chatting with our regional manager. Then dispatch called back and said to go post the same hospital, once again. We didn't make it there this time either. We were told to go to a nursing home down the road (about 5 miles) on priority for vaginal bleeding. Needless to say, the bleeding wasn't severe and it had been going on for two days. Another day of risking my life to act as a taxi.

We didn't even clear from that call when we were paged out to take a patient from the same ER to another hospital for surgery. Our patient was using a table saw and it slipped, partially amputating his right index finger and lacerating the others. We took him directly to the OR at a hospital about 20 minutes outside of Chicago.

We got back to our quarters and got to rest for about two hours. Then we got dispatched for a psych transport. The lady was a paranoid schizophrenic. She was walking around in circles around the nurses station muttering to herself. She asked many questions and kept saying, "I can walk...I can walk." She also asked me why she had to wear all the seatbelts, and that she couldn't help anyone if she was strapped down. She was very concerned that the doors were locked and that no men were in the ambulance. She asked if she could go home. When I said she had to go to the hospital she said, "I can't go home? Is that what my mom said?" I just told her it was the hospital's policy and that they would work everything out there. I was glad to finish the call-my hand was getting tired from all the times she made me unlock and relock the back doors to prove to her that they were, indeed, locked.

Back to quarters again for about an hour. We were called for a return to a nursing home from an ER for a patient that had abdominal pain that was cured with a GI cocktail. Great. Easy enough, right? Nope. She weighed almost 500 pounds. Before we left quarters I asked my dispatcher for a lift assist because they included the weight on the page. She said she was sending one from the Glenview area and that they would meet us at the hospital. We were about 1 mile from the hospital when one of our company's ambulances passed us-with both people in the front. The rig wasn't from my station so I figured it was our lift assist-having missed the hospital. My dispatcher kindly turned them around and they got to the ER about 10 minutes after we did. I can't believe they missed the hospital. As if the big blue signs with the "H" on them means anything but hospital. Oh well. We got the lady to the nursing home without incident. She was a big one and I was glad that was my last call.

(back dated)

04 February 2006


I got home around 0900, took a shower and headed back out to Volo. I ended up getting an old set of pyrex bowls, a few children's books and a cedar chest. Good times.

I fell asleep around 1530 or so. I figured I didn't have to be to work until 2000, so I could get in a bit of a nap. I woke up at 1730 to the sound of my officers voice on the phone. I was supposed to be there at 1700. Yikes! I got dressed and ran for my car. I checked my voicemail on my way to the station-three messages all from the department wondering where the hell I was. The worst part was that I had the phone on vibrate in my hand and I didn't feel it go off until 1730. That's reassuring. I also spoke to my partner at the ambulance company that told me I had been bitching about having a short day off because I had to be at the firehouse at 1700-I don't even remember that. I also never heard the reminder go off on my palm pilot. This is really getting out of hand. I think I have early onset dementia or something-I have been really, really forgetful recently. Usually I either forget where I put something or mess up my schedule somehow-every once in a while. This past week or so I have been botching up all over the place. I have been losing just about everything possible, like my keys, wallet, etc. I have forgotten to feed the cat several times (but he's fat, he can handle it), and forgotten several appointments, not to mention tonight. Ugh. I think I need my head examined.

I'm finally at the firehouse and ready to go. I think I am going to bed right at 2000 when "night shift" officially starts. I should take what I can get. The only bad thing is that the bunk room is freezing cold tonight. We checked the boiler and it is fine, but both of the bunkrooms are like 40 degrees. Our deputy chief is bringing in space heaters...hopefully we don't burn down the fire station.

I work again tomorrow. I made the mistake of picking up an overtime shift. It is only for eight hours, but I am working with an EMT-B. That means we will probably get all ALS calls and I will be run ragged. Damn it.

03 February 2006

Lost in Space

First call was for a transfer from the ICU at one hospital to an ICU at another. The page said, "monitor...IV." Nothing special. We got to the hospital and I started talking with the RN. I asked routine questions including the drip rate and what was running. She was like, "well, we don't really know. It's a study drug." I explained to her that I was only a medic and that we cannot take most drugs, especially not study drugs. She proceeded to explain to me that she asked for ALS so we needed to take the patient, and asked if we were nurses. I told her she needed at CCT (critical care team) rig to transport or they needed to send a nurse from the hospital with us. After about 15 minutes of figuring out who was doing what, a CCT rig was called and the patient would be transported then. The RN still didn't understand ALS, BLS etc., but at least we found her the proper rig. The weird thing about it was that nobody had any idea what was in the IV. Oh well, a cancelled call for me.

We were told to head back up to Waukegan to take a psych. When we got to the hospital I started paperwork and my partner ran up to the pharmacy to fill our drug order. I got nearly everything done, and the nurse said, "now all I have to do is find your patient." What? Yeah, she wasn't in her room. Security swept the premises and couldn't find her. They called the police the watch for her and to bring her back if they found her since she was "dangerous to herself." I knew it was just a matter of time before we were called back for her-her clothes and shoes were still in a bag behind the nurses station. She was out, in the cold, in a gown and bare feet. We went back to quarters, ate lunch and, sure enough, got called back to the ER. I redid the paperwork, got the patient on the cot and started on our way to the psych hospital. I asked her why she left. She said, "I was hungry, so I went home to eat lunch." Wow. Pretty hungry, huh? She said the police knocked on her door and brought her back, but not before she could finish eating.

I also did a wait and return MRI. Besides that the woman was pretty big, everything went pretty well. The call lasted quite a long time because we waited for films, but all in all it was okay.

After I cleared from that, I was sent to a local nursing home for a patient with "general weakness." My partner was supposed to be off at 1700, so her relief met us at the nursing home. We did our normal work-up, didn't find a whole lot and transported. There were barely any beds in the ER- she ended up in a hall bed.

The ER was quite a spectacle tonight. I never pay much attention, but for some reason tonight was different. There was a man, maybe about sixty roaming the halls in work boots and a gown with all the monitor leads hanging down his back-nobody paid him any attention. There was a woman on a vent that weighed at least 700 pounds that was playing with her blanket. A woman was lying in bed with a c-collar on yelling in a very annoying voice; I soon found out that she had a C-2 fracture and a C-3, C-4 subluxation. There were two others on backboards still-probably from the same accident. One woman was lying completely still in bed. She had two teddy bears on top of her, and a car seat with no baby. I guessed she was our next psych, but I noted later that she was on a backboard, and a nurse was entertaining her kids. There was a man with restraints in the hallway. Two women in one bed-one of which I later transported to the psych hospital. There was a guy in a hall bed that I recognized-they showed up at our post (which is an old hospital) asking for an ER because he "couldn't walk." He was walking just fine at the hospital. There were also a ton of people with horrible coughs-and none were covering their mouths. Yuck.

I did another wait and return-this one to the CT scanner. It was for a 40 year old woman with a possible PE. We got to the hospital and waited in the hallway for the technician. She said-it's going to be a while. I figured maybe 30 minutes. Wrong. I wasn't paying attention to the time, but our monitor has a timer on it that records how long it has been running for, and it will only count up to 99:99 minutes and start over. When we got to the hospital I plugged it into the wall to conserve the battery; it was on for over 200 minutes before we got her into the scanner. The scan took about 5 minutes. Then we were told to wait for report. This usually takes about 10-15 minutes while the doctor makes a preliminary report and sends us on our way. About 30 minutes passed and we checked back in the CT room to see what was taking so long. There was NOBODY in there! I walked down to ultrasound and spoke with a tech there-she contacted CT and we finally got the story. The doctor was going to read the films from home-then his computer crashed, so he had to drive to the hospital from home and read the films then. Great. It's nice that someone told us. I plugged in the monitor and used an O2 tank I found on a cart in the hallway since ours was nearly empty. The monitor had already gone for another 145 minutes before the tech gave us the okay to return the patient. All I got out of it to bring back to the ER, a piece of paper with a negative sign in a circle. Thanks. I told the receiving hospital how rude the staff was and that we were sorry about the long wait.

Now here's the best part. We do wait and returns all the time. Usually they run about an hour and a half to two hours. My dispatch sends a return page right away and I start my paperwork. I figured they just forgot and I would wait until I got out in the rig to start-I had a nine mile drive to do the paperwork. We recently got a computer in the rig called a "Nomad" that we use to communicate with dispatch, and when my parter hit the button to tell them we were at destination, the computer screen must have frozen and not sent the message to dispatch. The whole time we had no idea that they didn't even have us at this other hospital. So, I figured if the scan ran over two hours I would call them on a landline-our nextels didn't work in the hospital, and if they really wanted to get ahold of us they could use the pager. I didn't realize that even though the pager showed full signal bars that it wasn't functioning either. I called dispatch after the scan while we were waiting for results. My dispatcher answered the phone. I said, "This is 146...I'm just calling to let you know that we are still at the hospital-they are having problems with the computer and we have to wait for results." She said, "146? I thought we lost you. I have been trying to get ahold of you guys for hours. You never hit destination on the Nomad, I can't get through on the Nextel or your personal phones, and I have sent over 20 pages-none of which you have answered. I thought you were MIA." I explained to her that our Nomad must not be functioning, that wait and returns are typically long, and that I have never had a problem with the pager not functioning. Oh well. We will definitely make the log on this one. The stupid part is that both the Nextel and the Nomad have trackers. All she had to do was pop up our Nomad screen on her computer and see that our ambulance had been sitting in the same spot for the past several hours. What did she think we did-take the patient out for a beer?

I also did a few calls that I really can't remember and a psych transport.

(back dated)

01 February 2006

Pain in the butt

I got off this morning at 0800. Work was busy as usual. I headed straight to school. My jazz class went pretty well. We learned a piece from the 1920s. If you know what a flapper is-that is the kind of dancing we were doing. It was pretty fun. Psychology was okay. My instructor is still driving me nuts with her stupid "right there" "right here" bullshit. I don't think she can say a phrase without ending it with that. Talk about annoying. Some of my classmates are still getting on my nerves with their wannabe medical knowledge. Ugh. One lady kept talking about diabetes and how it causes psychological problems and symptoms. I have never heard of that-but she was convinced. Oh well.

I slept for 45 minutes on a bench in the performing arts building-then I was off to ballet class. We only did bar exercises and stretching-also at the bar. That sucked. Every bone in my body was cracking and I feel like I broke my butt all over again. My instructor had us doing all kinds of crazy moves. What does she think I am-a contortionist??? Ouch. The results will be posted tonight for the tryouts. We shall see. I think I did alright, but my availability was sort of limited because of fire training on the weekends. I guess I will find out tomorrow.

I ran a few errands and headed home to shower and get ready to go to the fire house. I got there for my shift at 1700. We got stuff ready for the evening-tonight is the association meeting/social night. The officers had their meeting first, which lasted nearly an hour. Usually anything over 30 minutes means we are in for a lecture about something. We talked a lot about fundraisers for the year, training and the treasury report. I checked out the ambulance and got my bed ready. I actually got the okay tonight from my officer to jump on any engine calls. Yeah! I hope we get one...that could get fun.

Anyways, I am going to try to sleep. Maybe that way I will be (gladly) rudely awakened for a call. Wish me luck.

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