Saturday, February 27, 2010

Blizzard of Winter 2009

Like any good fire department, we not only staffed and overstaffed equipment when the snow storm hit last December, but we held a training too. I have to say, snowball fights in the middle of our parking lot in between apparatus training (we could only drive one at a time so there was some down time) was awesome! It was great stress relief and I discovered that my EMS gear is fantastic for the snow, keeping both the cold and the snow out.

It was also very nice to get a better grasp at how to drive some of the special apparatus. I know believe that yes, if needed, I could take this piece out and do some rescuing instead of just looking at it and thinking it is a pretty piece of equipment. If there ever is an emergency on a trail, I am confident I will know what to do!

The downside was the lack of preparation. I realize that where I live on the East Coast does not see this amount of snow often, but it does see snow. So why is the concept of plowing while it is snowing not done around here? Coming from central New York state, we never had issues with the snow on roads because whenever it snowed, the plows were out treating the roads and removing the snow. Perhaps it is just a difference in opinions, but when people can cross country ski in the middle of main thorough fairs there is a problem.

I will give the plows a shout out though because once they got to plowing, they were doing a good job at clearing the roads.

It also confuses me when people with cars that clearly should not be driven in deep snow (we had well over a foot and half on the ground that morning) not only drive on the roads, but then up a hill where traction gets even worse, I can’t help but shake my head at those who get stuck. I had made a point to borrow my sisters all wheel drive CRV that had snow tires (she’s up in NY and had come down for the holidays) for just this reason.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Hospital Blues and Delights

Let me preface this post by saying this, all that snowfall that has been being dumped on the East Coast since December? Yeah, I have gotten ALL of it. Perhaps not always the worst, but I believe I have officially seen more snowfall accumulation this winter than I did in four years living in central NY state. Its been interesting to say the least, but more on that later.

The lab that I work in shares the building with a specialty hospital, allowing the doctors I work under to be both MD and research scientist. Its a wonderful set up with great people and the chance to really see the “bench to bedside” effect in clinical research. Normally there are very few downsides.

It was late, as in well past 2000 with few researchers left in the building. I was done with work but had stayed at my desk to finish up a school assignment (yes, I was working a full time job and taking nigh classes at a local college).

Poof! I am consumed by darkness, only the eerie red light of exit signs illuminating my lab followed a chorus of emergency alert beeps from our refrigerators, -20 C, and -80 C freezers complaining that they had no power. And a dead computer with a very lost document.

Needless to say that ended my evening at work, and the snow hadn’t even started!

I had known that the building was going to be testing their generators that evening, its required for buildings that hospitals are in, I just hadn’t thought it would have been that early in the evening. It was also supposed to have been Saturday, but with an impending December snow storm, they decided testing before the snow was a better idea.

Now while my Friday night had a bit of a damper after having to be up till 0000 finishing said assignment, the weekend held a bit of a surprise, and I am not talking about the feet of snow we got.

I had to come in both days of the weekend to treat mice. If I didn’t I would lose two weeks worth of an experiments and that was not on my list of things to do. Well, much to my delight, the roads and parking lots around my building were beautifully plowed and very much drivable, unlike the rest of the county. I was impressed. The hospital is a specialty hospital, no emergency room, but they had planned ahead, knowing that people would still need treatment and made sure access to care was not a problem. Or in my case, access to my mice.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Stoplight Fire Drills

It was night time, some time around 2100 on a warm summer evening, and we were on our way back from a good intent call sitting at a stoplight. I was in the back again because my partner was training to drive and the real driver had to sit in the front. I was actually in my final phases of charge/aid training, still a bit nervous when it came to running calls after having taken such a large break from that task.

“County to Ambulance, the PD are requesting you for a mental health call”

Well this would be a first even though after working for three years one would have expected to have this already under the belt. My crew of three then proceeds to do our own little fire drill, me moving to the front, our real driver moving to driving, and my partner getting into the back. I wish there had been a video of us, it would have been priceless.

A quick lights and sirens trip later we are going down a friendly neighborhood street, looking for the address and a police car. About this time I start noticing residents standing on the side of the street. Well that is a little odd.

I finally see the blue and red lights of a police car, switching from navigator to EMT, going over my check list in my head. I take a closer look at the police car, or I should say cars, ahead of us blocking the street. I lose count at eight as we park and and I am immediately greeted by an officer who proceeds to rattle off what they PD has done so far. Tasered and maced? Multiple times? Without flinching?

As we tromp down the street, I find my patient pinned to the ground in a front lawn by no less than seven police officers. Apparently he had been running down the street. As I start my assessment, I find him conscious with no airway or breathing issues and only minor cuts. And that he is hand cuffed, shackled and has taser prongs still in his back.

Oh, did I mention he is completely naked too?

After taser prong removal by the PD and a quick packaging in the Reeve’s stretchers, my partner and I climb in the back with an officer to start getting vitals. Or at least trying. His carotid was surprisingly hard to find seeing as he appeared to be healthy and in good shape, though the high pulse rate somewhere around 130 bmp played into this, and his blood pressure was not possible unless a limb was uncuffed. I was not really willing to do that with only one officer in the back. By the way, pulse oximeters work on toes.

A quick call to the Hospital later with a request for security at the door, we were on our way, lights and sirens courtesy of our driver not wanting this trip to take any longer than necessary, both for our and his sake.

His eyes were wide and excited as I kept him focused on me as I tried to ask questions between his professions of “I love you, I love you, I love you” in whispers to me and comments about “Daddy” to either my partner or the officer. Had he taken anything this evening? I got an ever changing list of drugs. Where was he from? Florida! Why was he here? School! What school? We got about five, all in the area.

His mental status was definitely altered, most likely because of any combination of drugs he was on and from our guess it was something pretty strong. With a high pulse and what was becoming very flushed skin, I was beginning to get worried that he would need more than just a night in the hospital to come down, but something stronger to keep him from overheating, having a sky high heart rate, or seriously injuring himself by struggling at some point.

We roll into the Hospital, met by the security and immediately get a room, which is nice change of pace, even if the circumstances are not. The hand off goes smoothly as I give my report, safely delivering my patient with no more injuries than when I first found him. It occurs to me then that this could have been much worse for both of us. Not once during the time we were on scene or when we were in the back of the ambulance did he struggle, lash out, or fight. He was utterly calm and with what drugs I was thinking he was on, its impressive that he did not have an outburst in our presence. I am not sure three of us could have held him down if he had gotten off of the stretcher and I am sure the process would have injured him too.

As I finish my written report, I overhear the doctor talking to our much calmed down and almost alert patient.

“What did you take?”

“Mushrooms.” By the way, this was not one of the drugs he told me he had taken.

“Did you know your dealer?”


“You might want to know your dealer. You got more than just mushrooms.”

I really do hope he felt better the next morning.

Vanishing Act

So December and January have been pretty hard months for me. Work has exploded in terms of the sheer number of experiments I am doing all at once and life, well life has been interesting. Needless to say, cars and I have a new relationship, I have seen more snow in the past month than I have in four years at college (where there is supposed to be snow), and my family has gone through some troubling times.

I will endeavor to get back on track and build some stock posts up for times when my muse has left the building screaming.