Just Another Day

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Why is it that when you first meet someone and they find out you’re a paramedic that the first question that usually pops into their head is:  “What’s the nastiest thing you’ve ever seen?”  Or they would respond with something along the lines:  “I don’t get how you do it, all the crazy things you see.”  Crazy things…yes, but what they’re all referring to is blood and gore.  That’s what EMS is about right?  That’s what paramedics do when they respond to 911 calls right?  Good ol’ blood and gore.  It’s not to say that there is no blood and gore involved.  Yes, blood and gore is part of the business, but it occurs a lot less often than you think.  Most of the time you’re a counsellor.  Most of the time, you’re responding to non-emergency calls.  Here’s a typical low-key, non-exciting and slightly frustrating day as a paramedic:

Call #1:  You get a psych, who had a bit of fun with drugs the night before and is now in psychosis.  Otherwise there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this fellow.  You spend your early morning baby-sitting him till the police comes and you hand him off.

Call #2:  You get a transfer.  Yes you’re trained to respond to emergencies, yet you’re being used as a glorified taxi-driver.  But it is what it is and you do the call with a smile.

Call #3:  The hospital you just transfered your patient to, decides to snag you with another transfer back the way you came.  You shrug, thinking, ‘Well I suppose it makes sense since we’re going back that way anyways’ and go about your jolly way.  In the back of your head you’re thinking:  ‘Okay, this is the last one, no more transfers for the rest of the day.’

The ambulance is running low on gas so you stop by a gas station to fill up while you quickly chomp down a snack.  You decide to head down to the beach to enjoy some sunshine when dispatch snags you with a call when you are a block away.  Damn!  Almost made it there!  This call better be good (and of course it never is)

…Call #4:  Routine for a foley-catheter issue.  The nurses at the care facility can’t get the catheter in, so they call 911 to send him to the hospital.  Next thing is, you find yourself stuck at the hospital because the staff wants you to take the patient back so as not to clog up a hospital bed.  You’re technically clear of the call, but the hospital staff doesn’t want you to leave.  The hospital staff then phones up dispatch where they do their little debate for 20minutes.  You look around the ER bay and can see another five crews there all backed up.  If there’s a real emergency right now, there will be no crews available in the area to respond.  Frustrated?  Check.

Call #5:  You just manage to gobble down a lunch when you get called for another foley catheter issue. Someone’s feeling backed up.  Emergency?  Not really.

Call #6:  An elderly lady got in a fight with another elderly lady at a nursing home and had her skin torn off.  You put on a gauze and bandage it up and listen to the angry lady curse all the way to the hospital.

Call #7:  Another crew called in for a lift assist which you’re more than happy to help out.

Call #8:  Call came in as shortness of breath, but really it was just a man having an anxiety attack.

Call #9:  Comes in 30 minutes before shift ends for a lady worried about her high blood pressure because it was 20mmHg higher than two hours earlier.  You want to tell the lady to throw away her little wrist BP cuff and to lecture her on blood pressures, but instead politely offer her a ride to the hospital for a check-up since she insists.  Now you’re in overtime and you’re going to be late for your dinner with your family.  

So what will I tell the next person who asks me. “What’s the nastiest thing you’ve ever seen?”  Well, I’ll tell them the nastiest thing I’ve ever seen, because hell, it’s way easier telling that story than the reality above.

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Comments
9 Responses to “Just Another Day”
  1. JHeath says:

    Nailed it. Good work. So, what’s the nastiest thing you’ve ever seen? Just kidding 🙂

    • PocketMedic says:

      Lol. If there was a like button I would have liked your comment 😉 Btw lovely photos on your flickr site, gotta love the wide-angle lense.

  2. JHeath says:

    Thanks! It is, by far, my absolutely most favorite lens. It seems to be a love/hate thing for most people.

    I start Medic school in a week and I think I would like to have a blog … similar to this one. I really enjoy reading it. It was a big help when I was writing my letter of intent while applying to my program. So, thank you very much.

    • PocketMedic says:

      You’re most welcome and good luck! You’ll have loads of fun 🙂

      Yeah I was thinking of getting one of those wide angles myself…not sure about as wide as fish-eye though. Only problem is that those lenses are ridiculously expensive!

      • JHeath says:

        Oh, yes. They’re super expensive. I’m fortunate enough to use the same camera as my dad; we can share lenses too 🙂 Craigslist and eBay often have decent deals. Nothing wrong with a used lens. Email me if you wanna compare notes on … anything!

  3. TofinoMedic says:

    I’m currently an EMR in Tofino, and I’m planning on taking a PCP course in the next year. I’m familiar with the JI of course, but has anyone who reads this blog had any experience about the AET Paramedic Academy? I’d be grateful for any feedback about them.

    • AlpinER says:

      TofinoMedic: I’ve just completed my PCP course through AET (2 more precepting shifts today and tomorrow). It’s hard to compare, not having been through both programs, however, I did do my EMR training at JI New West and from talking to people and reading this blog I can tell you this:
      You’re not going to get the same resources at AET that you will get at JI New West. There is only one instructor for two classes, so they’re overworked. AET also doesn’t have quite as much equipment (an ambulance for one), but they do have a mock ambulance bay and everything else you actually need to run scenarios. Advantage: JI

      The structure is different than JI…there’s not quite as much structure in how the course is laid out, nor is there as much day to day structure. At AET, there isn’t the para-military inspections, etc. that I’ve heard exist at JI. Advantage: Tie, depending on your preference.

      AET doesn’t make you go through the lengthy application process…this is a major advantage if you don’t want to have a lengthy gap between your EMR and PCP training. Advantage: AET

      AET teaches the EMA licensing protocols, whereas JI teaches their own protocols. In my opinion, they should either teach the BCAS treatment guidelines or they should teach the licensing protocols. Advantage: AET

      At the end of the day, both courses will provide you with the knowledge you need to get started with BCAS. Based on what I’ve heard from people in BCAS, both preceptors and others, they don’t notice much difference in the quality of paramedics being churned out by either. What you make of either program and how you practice and treat your patients is very individual. The bulk of your learning will take place after you’ve left the classroom anyway.

      I hope this helps and good luck!

      • PocketMedic says:

        To add onto that, I think JI has a better resource of instructors. From what I understand, AET has one main instructor whereas in JI, there are 6-7 instructors each with different backgrounds and varying years of experience from 10-30yrs. It’s really interesting seeing their perspectives and each of their different views of their calls as well as the calls they provide for practice. It is also really neat on obstetrics day to learn from an ITT-paramedic, or have an ALS-paramedic show extra skills like how to assist ALS in intubation as a PCP.

        Just a couple of misconceptions in the previous post:
        JI teaches protocols that are used in licensing as well as will inform you of differences in BCAS protocols when it comes to precepting. JI DOES NOT run it’s “own” protocol.

        As for the paramilitary structure, I wouldn’t worry about the inspections because it’s just done in fun and didn’t really happen with our class.

        I have to agree with AlpineER though in one aspect that is a major pro for AET which is the one week off one week on in-class study, although it means overall a longer schooling time.

  4. TofinoMedic says:

    Thanks for the responses AlpineER and PocketMedic, that’s helpful info. I’m already working for BCAS here in Tofino, so I have a little insight into Licensing and BCAS protocols, at least within an EMR scope of practice.

    I’ll probably shoot to do PCP next year at this time. Good luck to both of you out there on the streets!

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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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