Twelve Months

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One year, twelve months, 365 days.  To some, it seems like an eternity.  Think back to when you were a kid.  It seemed like forever until the next time Santa visited.  When you became a teenager, time seemed to speed up a little.  It seemed that high school flew by.  There are so many things I wanted to do, but it seemed like I never had enough time.  And then adulthood set in.  The phrase, “so much to do, and so little time to do it”, can almost be the universal motto for anyone with a career or a family.  This is how it has and hopefully will work for me.  I know I have mentioned before how I fell on some hard times in the last year.  Well, in case you were wondering, I think now is the time to get some things off my chest. What better time to cleanse myself of my past, then when I am about to embark on the most strenuous 12 months of my life.

At this time last year, I was one day removed from being told I had been fired from a job I had held for almost 15 years.  A place where everyone knew me.  Even the guys with 40+ years in knew me because my grandfather had roamed the same buildings I had at one time.  I was completely destroyed mentally.  I had finally been able to get myself settled financially after six years of struggling through the effects of a terrible divorce.  Everything that I knew, everything that I had fought so hard to obtain and cherish was ripped from me once again.  I started that trip that cost so many people…the trip towards hitting rock bottom.

I filled out so many applications.  Jobs similar to what I was doing…..jobs I was almost guaranteed to get because I had the experience and the skill sets they needed.  Jobs that paid decent, but took me in a different direction career wise.  I figured why not, I have nothing to lose.  And then there was the very first app I filled out.  It was for a small private ambulance company very close to where I lived.  At the very least, it would allow me to maintain my EMT Cert, and hold me over until I found something better.  Two months after I had filled it out, almost to the day, they called.  I had completely forgotten I had filled it out to be honest.  I went and took my interview and was told to go take my drug test.  I was hired.  Little did I know that interview would change my life.

I started the job with all the enthusiasm one normally would when accepting a new position.  I have to admit, I was a little worried though.  Even though I had been an EMT for 2 years, any experience and skill sets I had were based on having at least 3 people in the back of the rig when transporting.  This was going to be a real test of my abilities.  If it had to be done until something better came along, I guess I had to try my best.

I will never forget my first Emergency run there.  Dispatch chirped us over the phone and all I heard was…

I Need you guys to start heading to Rural SNF. I’m still getting details.”

I remember having this huge adrenaline rush.  My first call as a “career” EMT and it was an emergency run.  Not knowing what we had, my FTO jumped in the driver’s seat, I climbed in the officer’s seat, and our Medic climbed in the back.  We started heading out normal traffic.  My FTO told me that it happens quite a bit.  They will send you that way while they are still getting info just to cut down on the ETA.  Just as we were turning onto the expressway, it happened.  They chirped us again.

“This is going to be on a possible stroke. Vitals are……”

To this day I could not tell you what those vitals were.  All I remember is my FTO lighting us up, hitting that gas pedal, and me almost coming out of my seat I was so geeked.  A CVA…..are you kidding me?  Two years as an EMT on a fire department and I am finally getting my first CVA.  I looked back at our medic and noticed he was sleeping on the cot.  Even though I knew he had been doing this since before I graduated high school, I was in shock….“seriously you are sleeping while we are heading to a stroke?” Everything else about that run….hell even the rest of the shift, was a blur to me.

I ran one more training shift with that crew, and was set loose to roam the streets as an EMT. Even though it wasn’t what I had in mind career wise, I had become what I always dreamed of doing when I was a kid.  I was an EMT.  It wasn’t quite at the level of my childhood heroes Randy Mantooth and Kevin Tighe, but it was probably as close as I would get.  I knew this was a different world than what I saw on TV.  Running 911 wasn’t going to be the norm, but yet the occasional break from dialysis runs and doctor appointments.  It would give me a chance to work on my skills though, and hopefully serve as a part-time gig once I found one of those well-paying factory jobs I was so used to working.

I began to develop that camaraderie with my fellow employees, just like I had at any other place I worked.  It was different here though. Because it was a small company, it almost had a family feel to it.  You had the ones that you felt so close to, they were almost like brothers and sisters.  There was the few that seemed to always be looking to stir up trouble.  Just like that annoying uncle that always got drunk at the family function and inevitable pissed everyone off.  More important than the bond I developed with my coworkers though was love I began to develop for the job itself.  I found I was able to really help people.  I was able to make that dreaded Dr appointment a little better by saying or doing something ridiculous to take their mind off it for a little bit.  I started developing bonds with the patients that were regular trips for us.  And to me, that was what this job is all is all about.

It took a little bit, but I started working shifts on ALS trucks.  Me being the sponge that I am, I was always asking questions.  I did it not only to learn a little bit, but also to make me a better EMT.  Knowing what that medic was going to do in certain situations would allow me to better help them.  Things magnified 10 fold when I started working with my Partner in Crime.  I would relentlessly pick her brain and test her knowledge.  She would never admit to it, but I know there were a few times that she was highly annoyed by it.  Every time we had a free minute, or even as we were running to a call, I would ask her things.  Play out scenarios in my head.  It was at that point, and with some encouragement from her, that I decided to become a Paramedic.

12 months….sure I left out a lot of detail.  I mean, who really wants to sit and hear about all the boring details of my life?  Hell, I would probably fall asleep if I had to sit here and read about myself.  So don’t feel bad if you are sitting there nodding off right about now…because I am right there with you.  The next year though, it’s going to be a whirlwind of action, stress, smiles, tears, and hopefully when it’s all said and done, I will be wearing that gold patch on my sleeve.  Twenty two more days and it will officially begin.  One last thing before I head out.  I just want to thank everyone that has given me advice, or an “atta boy” up to this point.  Without your help and support, I don’t think I would be getting ready to do this.  I especially want to thank my PIC.  You are the driving force behind my desire to do this. I know I’ve said it before, and I’m sure you’ll hear it a million times more, but I hope the end outcome of this is me being just as good at what I do as you are.  I know you kid about torturing me in labs.  But I hope you do.  I want you to push me to be the best.  Because you know I will accept nothing but as the end result.  Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.

One year, twelve months, 365 days.  That’s all I have left.  To me, it’s ironic how the same amount of time that has brought me so much pain and suffering, will also be the amount of time that is going to see me reach my dream, and get that gold.

medic patch

A Little Extra

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It all boils down to this.  In eleven days, I will have completed the first part of achieving my goals.  Keeping my nose clean for that long shouldn’t be a problem.  A&P hasn’t been as bad as I thought it would be.  I started out rough, but have managed to turn things around and barring a catastrophe on my final, I should end the semester with an A.

I have learned about more than just A&P in this class though.  My instructor is a County Paramedic and along the way, he has managed to incorporate little tidbits of useful information into our classroom lectures.  You see, he is a believer that not only should a good medic know how to assess what is wrong with a patient and know what drug to give, but they should know why that drug is used and exactly how it works.  For example, during our lecture on the nervous system, he got into Rapid Sequence Intubation. He explained to the class what each drug does, and why it’s given.  Our lecture on Wednesday made me think a little bit though.  We somehow ended up on the topic of protocols.  He pulled up his agencies protocol “novel” and explained how it’s organized, and highlighted some of the very aggressive protocols they use.  He was skimming through the cardiac section and that’s when my brain started working.  The have access to Lucas Devices, ICE therapy, and Lifepak 15’s.  I asked him if the ICE therapy was as successful for them as it seems to be for everyone else.  Of course, he started his reply by explaining to us exactly what hypothermic therapy does, and how it works in a cardiac arrest situation.  He then rattled off some stats that blew my mind.  80% of their patients that had ROSC walked out of the hospital neurologically intact.  Keep in mind, that’s not 80% of their Cardiac Arrest patients.  But to have that many that they were able to get a pulse back for walk out of the hospital the way they were before the arrest, it blew my mind.

It excited me and yet at the same time I was a little saddened by it.  Working for a small private, we don’t have the luxury of having access to the equipment they have.  Our Medical Director is very aggressive as far as her protocols go.  She actually has in place the ability for us to use ICE and the Lucas device.  However, being a private, we don’t have the financial ability to provide these tools.  It almost isn’t fair. With the contracts we have, I would think that those types of tools would be a necessity, not a high priced option.  Now, I realize that the equipment used in pre-hospital medicine isn’t cheap…from the thousands spent on stretchers, Lifepaks, and ambulances, among other things.  But there should be a way for small, independent companies to have access to these incredible tools of the trade.  Being a current EMT, I wouldn’t be as involved working with this stuff, and trust me, I wouldn’t wish the use of these things on any of the Medics I work with, but wouldn’t it be nice to have access to them if we needed them?  Instead of just being able to give that 85 year old male some drugs and Fast Patches for that cardiac arrest, wouldn’t it be better to be able to induce hypothermia to increase his chances of surviving this ordeal?

Perhaps this is just wishful thinking on my part.  I honestly believe to some extent that it is.  But with me pursuing what I am, and being as much of a sponge for knowledge that I have become, I can’t help but wonder.