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)


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