Friday, March 27, 2009

Pushing Hard and Fast

I've got almost two weeks to straight "clinicals" ahead of me, where I'm functioning as the lead paramedic on a 911 ambulance. The didactic portion of the paramedic class is over and now it's just a matter of finishing up the hours that we need on the ambulances before we test out. These clinical rotations are normally a lot of fun, albeit hectic and grueling as they're stacked back-to-back offering little or no time to rest and recover. Each 24-hour period I will move to a different ambulance service somewhere around the state, quickly learning and adapting to new "truck set-ups" and treatment protocols. I'm expected to be proficient in all of them.

What I've found thus far:

Nursing homes depress me. The smell is always the same. Eyes follow us as we arrive with our equipment to treat and transport one of their own; knowing that someday it will be them on the stretcher- IV lines, oxygen, cardiac monitors, drugs, etc. Elderly, paper-thin skin; mouths so dry that they stick, eyes uncomprehending what is happening to them.

Kids make me nervous. Little people de-compensate so quickly; one minute they're fine and the next they're limp and lifeless. As a parent myself I can feel the unspeakable panic of mothers and fathers as they watch their whole world stop breathing and turn blue in their own quivering arms. They offer you the lifeless little body; tears and screams of desperation follow.

I do not understand drug seekers, but am amazed at the lengths they will go through to get 4 mg. of morphine from me. They know all the right things to say, the coded phrases that almost force me to treat them with narcotics. It's a game to them. When they're found out they go off in a huff, looking for a new source; no embarrassment or remorse, the game goes on.

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