She’s only 20 years old*. 15 years younger than me. Laid out on the ground in front of the house. It’s 40 degrees outside at 1am here in Texas. Her boyfriend woke up and found her not breathing and did CPR on her while waiting for us to show up. The police showed up first and she woke up. They started their investigation before Fire and EMS even made it to the scene, and proudly declared to me that they had discovered heroin and drug paraphernalia inside the house. All around me are public safety employees shouting at this young woman, “what did you take?” and “what are you on?” and “whose drugs are inside the house?” Continue reading “Connecting with a Drug Overdose Patient”
You know that song by Faces, Ooh La La, that has the chorus that goes “I wish that I knew what I know now, when I was younger“? That’s how I feel about some parts of my career in EMS. I realized today that I’m about 12 years into my EMS career, and about 7 of those years spent working full-time in EMS. A decade or so of working in public service has shown me a lot of amazing things. I’ve seen people cause each other great pain and harm, and I’ve seen the truly amazing side of humanity – people coming together to help total strangers on their worst day. I’ve responded to MVCs, fires, overdoses, cardiac arrests, asthma attacks, heart attacks, strokes, a wildfire, floods, a tornado, and more falls than I can count. I’ve worked for city, county, and private EMS services. I’ve worked as a volunteer, a part-timer, and as a career paramedic. I’ve been on ambulances, squads, chase cars, engines, rescues, and trucks. The one thing that stands out about every single place I’ve ever worked, and every call I’ve ever been on, are the people who’ve been by my side on each call. Continue reading “Musings on a decade in EMS”
I’m awkward. I’m introverted. I struggle sometimes with depression and anxiety. I’ve been, at one time or another, diagnosed with clinical depression, major depression, social anxiety, social phobia, and an anger disorder. You might be reading this paragraph and wondering aloud, “how the hell does he function as a paramedic?” – and you’re not alone. I wonder this sometimes myself.
There is a part of me that is unsure of myself, self-doubt abounds, especially when I’ve made a mistake, or think I’ve made a mistake. I try to always do right by my patients, to ease their pain, settle their mind, make them more comfortable. Some patients are unhappy no matter what I do. Some patients die no matter what I do. I’ve been in EMS for about 10 years now, and I’m starting to accept this reality, that dissatisfaction and death are a regular part of my job, and that there’s not always anything I can do about it except smile, do my best, and then move on to the next emergency. Continue reading “The Socially Awkward Medic”
We were dispatched for trouble breathing. It had been a busy night, back-to-back calls, all kinds of patients. The day had felt rather hurried and frantic. My partner and I were both a few PCRs behind. We arrived on scene at a single family home and a woman waiting out front for us. “It’s my mom…. something’s not right…” she trails off, obviously upset, fearing that we’re going to bear horrible news when we see her mother.
The house is old, with narrow hallways and tight corners. We leave the cot in the hallway leading to the back bedroom because it won’t make the tight turn. I carry my monitor and airway bag.
As I make the turn into the bedroom, my heart skips a beat. The frail, white-haired, quiet woman in bed could have been my Gramma’s twin. Continue reading “Like my own Gramma”