Sunday, December 16, 2012

First Aid Classes

My second job is teaching first aid classes, and when they start to get boring and repetitive, I think about the major impact the courses I took had on my life and it motivates me to put my all into teaching again.

The first course I took was when I was extremely young and naive, 15 years old and very sheltered. It was taught by an older guy in a large basement room, and I was by far the youngest. When it came around to splinting, I ended up in a group with a bunch of 20-something year old guys who were trying to become firemen. They were young, gorgeous and flirtatious, and I was a gawky, shy 15-year old. I spent the entire time bright red, especially when one of them winked at me as I was putting the leg splints into place. It was an exciting, totally foreign weekend for me, and I was hooked.

The next class I took was with my sister, and it was taught by 2 university response team members. They were young and cute (a running theme in all my courses), and as passionate about first aid as I was. I had never met people who loved this stuff as much as I did, I finally felt like I belonged. It was in this course where I realized I really did want to do this for a living, and that I wasn't a freak for being so passionate about emergency medicine.

The first responder course I took a couple years later probably had the biggest impact on me. I spent the entire course flirting with an amazing guy who ended up becoming one of my best friends. We pushed each other, motivated each other and encouraged each other throughout the entire course, and have continued to do so in the years since. It was a great course because I took it with good friends, made an even better friend and of course, did very well.

In all the first aid courses I have taken, I can pinpoint something that changed the course of my life. As cheesy as that may sound, it is very true. Remembering that makes me want to make my courses just as amazing for my students, I never know when somebody is going to impacted by what I teach or how I teach it. It's an honour to be on the other side of things now.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Working with Cops

The police officers in my city have always been absolutely wonderful towards me. I love working nights on weekends because at least half of my calls involve the cops, they add some more excitement to the job. All three emergency services work so well together, I love being part of that team.

We got called to an assault around midnight on shift in a rather sketchy apartment building, it turned out the one guy was barricaded in his apartment which meant the Tac Team showed up. Those guys take awesome to a whole new level, watching them work is amazing.  My patient was relatively harmless, just very drunk, although more crude and vicious than I had ever experienced before. He came out of his apartment somewhat willingly, and was standing at the doorway cussing at me while I attempted to do an assessment. He had  some head and facial injuries and was quite intoxicated, and was unable (or unwilling) to answer level of awareness questions (who, what, where, when etc), so we decided that he needed to go to the hospital for assessment.
I was playing the role of "friendly medic" while the tac cops on either side of me were playing the role of the enforcers. I wasn't getting anywhere with him, as he was well past the point of reasoning. Even though this guy was swearing and threatening non-stop, I have never felt so safe in my life, with these two ginormous bears flanking me. At one point, he clenched his fists, stepped towards me and declared, "Imma gonna f*** you up!". I made myself as small as possible as the two officers flew from my side onto this guy, taking him down faster than I knew mountains that big could move.  I love having that kind of backup!

A couple days later my partner and I were on standby at a hostage situation while the negotiator talked the suspect out of the house. He eventually surrendered peacefully, and we were given the clear to leave. Before we did, the negotiator came over to our ambulance and thanked us for being there. Never met the guy before, but when he made eye contact and spoke, my first thought was, "Wow, this guy must be a great negotiator.". He had a very interesting  aura about him, I trusted him completely in about 10 seconds flat. Talk about amazing inter-personal skills.

I would never want to be a police officer, it is an extremely challenging, thankless job, even more so than being a paramedic. I have the utmost respect for them, however. The officers in my city are amazing to work with, knowing they have my back and that we truly are a team is a great feeling.

Monday, July 30, 2012


In what dispatch language is "general weakness" code for "man fell off roof 8-10 feet onto concrete, landing on his head, now unconscious and bleeding."?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


It's been an incredibly long, challenging, rewarding and amazing 2 months. The biggest thing that I have learned though, is how unbelievably useless I am in so many situations. I have no lasting ability to improve my patient's lives, I cannot fix their chronic disease, and what bothers me the most is that I can't even take away their pain.

I felt so useless to see her, a tiny teenager, twisted up from a chronic, unfixable ailment, now suffering from intense abdominal pain. She was a frail, beautiful, intelligent girl, in so much pain that she was drenched in sweat and and any movement made her cry out. A cry that pierced my very soul, an expression of sheer torment that I was powerless to stop.

I am thankful for my partner that night, he can come across as a bit of an arrogant jock, but tonight he was pure teddy bear. Lifting her gently, arranging her twisted limbs in a more comfortable position, driving at a snail's pace across the speed bumps and potholes to limit her inevitable pain.  I just wish I could have done more for her. She lay on my stretcher for that interminable 20 minute ride, crying that piercing cry with every bump, every turn. I wanted so badly to soothe her pain, to take away her agony, but was powerless to do so. Instead, I merely watched and waited for the hospital lights, trying in vain to not let that cry settle permanently in my heart.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Unconscious Drunk Guys are Heavy.

Working mostly weekend nights I'm seeing a lot of intoxication and the resultant stupidity. If I did drink, I think that seeing the incredibly moronic behaviour that results would turn me off for good! One thing that all drunk guys should learn is that talking to another guy's girlfriend usually results in said guy attempting to rearrange your face. When standing in front of a cement ledge, it tends to get a lot worse on the way down.

When we got there, 250 lbs of intoxication was laying neatly on the sidewalk, rolled in the perfect recovery position by a bystander who was concerned about the blood gurgling out of his mouth. I do love it when people do first aid before I arrive, it makes me feel like teaching first aid classes during the week is making a difference.

We ended up doing a rather messy lift once he was backboarded and on stretcher, and as a result, it ended up impacting against my leg rather hard. I don't bruise easily, but when I do, it looks bad! For scale, it's the size of my hand.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Mirror Image

I'm finishing up my weekend and heading back into my run of shifts, and the familiar nerves are back. Ever since I was around 10 y/o, I looked at paramedics in awe in the hope that one day I would be one. Now, it's hard to believe that I am the person who shows up when somebody calls 911. I wonder if the poor bugger who sees me walk through the door sees my nerves and inexperience, or if they see confidence and the uniform. I know what I see when I look in the mirror.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Calming Nerves

First few weeks of shifts are behind me, and I am proud to report that I haven't killed anybody yet! Seriously though, I'm still nervous, but it feels good to have even a couple weeks of experience. One of the things that concerned me the most was the one thing we never did as students - driving. It always seemed like it would be a big jump, driving a large vehicle lights and sirens on the first shift with no experience. It isn't that bad though, just have to keep it slow and expect other drivers to do the opposite of what they are supposed to do. One of my first lights-and-sirens drives was a stat transfer to a pediatric hospital an hour away with a doctor, nurse and a woman in 30-week labour. The doc told us that they had managed to get her labour stopped, but we had about 45 minutes before they expected it to start again, and they REALLY needed to be at the hospital with the NICU when that happened. Thank God it was a beautiful day, not at rush hour, and the roads were good, because it went well. Not perfectly, but well. Fighting off the throat/chest infection of a lifetime now after a weekend of patients with pneumonia, so here's hoping I get better instead of worse so I can make my weekend shifts.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Finally Hired!!

Finally got a job as a paramedic! I'm super excited, and completely terrified.

Every night for the last week, I've had "the first call" dream. Sometimes it goes well, sometimes it doesn't, but always, Matt is there to save my ass. I'm so used to having a preceptor there to save me!

I'm scared of screwing up, making a mistake, or getting a bad reputation. At the same time, I'm excited and can't wait to get out there. If I don't stroke out first, that is.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Two Different Worlds

Today after our church potluck, we started to clean up the room, as per usual. I started to stack chairs when I realized I was getting some strange looks from the older men who were also stacking. Looking around, I was the only woman doing this relatively physical chore, while the other woman were in the kitchen cleaning the dishes. I remarked to my pastor that it felt odd to get the feeling that I wasn't supposed to be doing the physical work, when I do so much worse at work. He chuckled and agreed, but basically shrugged it off, as it is an older church and it is not an uncommon attitude. Sometimes it can be difficult to mesh the two worlds I seem to live in. I work in a very challenging field, doing challenging work in challenging circumstances. Then when I go to church, I am a sweet church-going woman who is expected to let the men lift the chairs while I do the dishes. It's hard to do that sometimes, as I know that in an emergency, not only would I manage the entire situation, I could also lift any one of those guys who was looking at me strangely. I may eventually be able to combine both, the kick-ass paramedic and the sweet church woman who bakes the potluck favourites, but I don't seem to be able to right now. They just seem like polar opposites, and the people on each side certainly don't understand what the other side is like.