Ride-along Out of the Blue

BC Ambulance

I had my first ambulance ride-along today.  The ride wasn’t crazy exciting (well maybe it was, because it was my first time ever), but it was definitely interesting.  And this all happened as if God planned it.

On friday, I went to the Academy to train capoeira, but was locked out since my teacher wasn’t there yet.  A friend of mine came by a little later, and we ended up being locked out together.

Friend:  Hey, what’s that you’re reading?

Me:  Oh it’s a Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) book.

Friend:  You want to be a paramedic?

Me:  I’m thinking about it.

Friend:  I know two paramedic friends.  You want to go for a ride-along?

Me:  Yeah, I’ve been meaning to, but wasn’t sure how to…

So he picked up the phone and called right away!  That took me a little by surprise.  His friend agreed to show me around and asked if I was free Sunday, I said sure, half dazed that all of this was just falling into place so quickly (perhaps it was meant to be?).  So after a text, several messages and phone calls, I got the opportunity I’d been dreaming about.

Everybody at the station was super nice.  My friend’s paramedic friend, let’s call her V, just came back from a call, so we talked a bit, then another crew got a code 3 call and she basically threw me into their ambulance so I can get some riding experience.  It was pretty exhilarating speeding down the street in a big car with the sirens blazing and cars pulling over while driving against traffic.  Makes you feel special.

First case was a 60yr old man who had vertigo lying on the ground beside his pulled over car with his wife looking worried, nothing really remarkable.  He had low bp and was vomiting.  The crew took him to the hospital while I just kind of gawked around, feeling out of place.  Paramedic H explained to me the paperwork and things like that while I tried to not be in the way of the hospital staff.

During that call, we got paged to transport a 94 year old patient from the same hospital.  She kept on babbling on and on, and we weren’t sure what she was saying.  She wouldn’t stop talking.  The paramedics had a tough time communicating with her, until I realized she was talking in Cantonese!  There was never a day that I thought I’d be proud of talking in my heavily english-accented Cantonese, but I was the only one who understood her.  So I started talking to her and ended up being the translator.  That was pretty cool and made me feel like I was part of the crew 🙂

While transporting her home, I learned a lot about this old lady who talked about everything and anything.  From her losing her parents when she was a child, to the Japanese invasion into Hong Kong, the various jobs she worked at, the three children she had etc etc.  What was more shocking was when we arrived at her home, we realized she lives by herself, in a really really shady part of town.  Her home reminded me of those old crowded traditional Hong Kong apartments.  Obviously the lady was neglected, she didn’t want us to leave and even gave us a tour of her home.

When we arrived back at the station, V told me that I should contact the unit chief about more ride-alongs, and Paramedic H offered to take me around during his shifts. Sweeet!  I can’t wait to experience more.

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  • Courage is the discovery that you may not win, and trying when you know you can lose. -Tom Krause
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