Wednesday, August 16, 2006


I am suspending this blog indefinately as I am becomming burned out from trying to keep it up everyday in addition to all my other projects.

I direct readers to the following blog, where I will try to post once or twice a week on the life of a paramedic and topics of interest.

Street Watch: Notes of a Paramedic

Thanks you all for reading.

Monday, August 14, 2006


Driving into work I had my portable on. The medic I switch with at the beginning of the week always comes in a little early in the evening so I don't get slammed with a last minute call so I try to return the favor for him. I'm crossing the town line when I hear them paged out for a mother who's son is cold. Okay, I'm thinking code, but I'm also thinking presumption. I start that way -- it is on the other side of town. They get updated that CPR is in progress. They are already out when I arrive. I find them in the bedroom doing CPR on a middle-aged man. He is in asystole. The night medic is going for the line while the cops do CPR, compressions and bagging. I go to the head and put in the tube. His jaw is not limber -- there is a slight amount of stiffness there, but I am able to get the tube in. We work him for twenty minutes, and then call the hospital to gert permission to presume. We don't have to call, but since he is in his forties, we do. The night medic tells the mother that her soon is gone, and she starts crying, and comes over to the body and gets down on her knees and throws her arms over him and starts crying out to Jesus. (Often I give the family a chance to say good bye before we stop CPR, telling them that while we are breathing for them and pumping their heart, they might be able to carry their family's voices off with them when we let them go. I didn't even think of it this morning. Maybe because I wasn't the one running the code or maybe it was still so early in the morning. I wish that I had.) It was a very emotional scene. The night medic's partner was in tears. It was sad, but it was also one of those times when you feel good about the world because you see so clearly the love that people have for each other. The guy died young, but he was surely loved by his mother.

Later in the day we were sent for a seizure possibly not breathing. It was out a house I hadn't been too for several years, but I remembered as a psych's place. We found a semi-naked fourty year old woman in the back seizing, well, she was shaking. I wasn't convinced it was a seizure. She was hot and diaphoretic. I put her on the capnography and saw she was breathing fine and had good cardiac out. In the ambulance she admitted she had been drinking and hadn't had a drink for three years. Then she started shaking again, her whole body. On the capnography she was apneic while she shook, but it never lasted more than thirty seconds. I thought maybe she was holding her breath. My preceptee tried to line and she jerked it out. When she stopped seizing, we tried a sternal rub, but she didn't respond, but then she was awake with no postictal period. The ride in was a bit of a fiasco with us yelling at her to knock it off, her alternately seizing and swearing at us. When I told her I had to stick her to get a line, she said it had hurt the last time. My preceptee had stuck her when she was suppossedly unresponsive. We ended up giving her 1 mg of Ativan just to chill her out some. At the hospital she did her seizure routine for them, and ended up getting strapped down after she started screaming she wanted oxycodone.

Then we got sent priority one for a "severe hemmorage" at the diaylsis center on a commercial pass -- it turned out to be guy walking around with a clamp on his arm. The place was closing and after two hours he still hadn't stopped bleeding whenever they removed the clamp, so because they had to go they couldn't observe him anymore so we had to take him to the hospital.

Sunday, August 13, 2006


Three calls: 1) the old lady from last week with dementia who was disorientated. Today her problem was she couldn't sleep -- she needed sleep. She slept only an hour. She had to sleep. We hoped when we brought her in might finally get some social service help, but they said she couldn't get her on Medicaid because she still owned her house. Her daughters live far away and she is losing her mind. The neighbor said she called her 22 times the day before. They put her in the waiting room.

The other two calls were for a nursing home man with sepsis and man with abdominal pain.

We spent the afternoon doing mock codes with my preceptee, using an airway maniquin and a CPR manequin. I taped a sponge in a plastic baggy to the manequin's neck to serve as a jugular vein so he could inject drugs. We used our expired epi, atropine, etc. I played "Sammy's friend," and succeeded in pulling the tube out while assaulting the crew. I had them load the mannequins and drive around the block doing CPR. Good times.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

My Birthday

Day off.

Friday, August 11, 2006


Precepting again today. 12 hours in the city. Again, it was nice all 911s.

We did a seizure, a dsypnea, a patinet who was peppersprayed by police, an emaciated patient who we had to talk into going to the hospital, and another call I don't remember.

We were in the apartment of this old man with dreadlocks, emaciated as a Biafrin. he did not want to go to the hospital. Two big guys from some social organization had called us. My preceptee was doing a really good job talking to the guy, convincing him to go to the hospital, to get a meal, get cleaned up, and have the doctor check him out, and then helping dress him and manuever him into the stair chair, all the while the guy is going slow because I sense he worries he won't be coming back to his clutterd little apartment, where I notice two books a paperback -- "The Keys to Success" and a hardcover library book by the same author "How to make a Million Dollars.'

"Too bad, you can't just beam him to the hospital," one of the big guys said. "Just hit a button and he's there."

"Well that would be nice," my partner says, "But that would sort of put us out of business."

"No, no, it wouldn't. You'd still need someone to come and check the person out -- someone to make the decision to beam them -- someone to push the button on the beamer. They couldn't have just anybody do it."

"Well, I guess if you put it that way," my partner said.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


12 hours precepting. We were busy, but only one ALS call for a chest pain. The other calls were for an OD/psych, a back pain, two falls, hip, and a psych. At least the day went by fast.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Cleaned Out

First patient today was a woman who I've taken care of several times over the years. She has a history of seizures. She's had them ever since she was born. Her mother had gone to, in her words, "have her womb cleaned out," and the doctor somehow missed the fetus. The fetus was wacked in the head repeatedly with the vaccum, and surprise of surprises lived through the episode, and has seizures as a result. Talk about a survivor. Poor girl works for an insurance company and has for almost a decade, but gets no benefits because she is actually employed by a temp agency.

Last call was an asthmatic, who got two treatments and was still working a little hard.

Tomorrow I am in the city to precept another medic for a few days.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Great Interest

I had a vicious headache today. I don't normally eat Burger King, but I have always found it to be great anti-headache food, so on the way to work this afternoon, I stopped and got a combo whopper meal, and just as I was pulling into work, just as I opened the door to get out, my radio went off -- a call. I hate that. I had to eat my hamburger going down a bumpy road with the lights and sirens on. That takes away all anti-headache properties. The call was for an old woman and increasing regular customer, who lives alone, and whose complaint today was she just felt "all disorientated." On the drive in she told me several times about how she'd had a big supper. Meal and wheels had brought her meatballs. We had the same conversation five times. My guess was she had some dementia coming on.

Later we did a two patient MVA and a morbidly obese woman who was spitting up blood. We went to the same hospital. The disorientated woman was sitting in the hallway reading the HIPPA form I'd left her. She'd pick it up, read it with great interest for a minute, set it down, and then pick up again and read it with great interest again. She was the only person in the hallway who didn't seemed agonized about the wait.

Monday, August 07, 2006


An unresponsive at a nursing home, who on inspection seemed only to be feigning. Then we were called out for an MVA only because the uninjured driver was pregnant. Just before crew change we got a call for baby not breathing, but it turned out to be either a febrile seizure or the two year old with a fever who choked temporarily on a mucus plug. He was fine, just a little congested.

Sunday, August 06, 2006


One thirty in the morning, patient in a nursing home threw up some coffee grounds emesis. Patient has a big psychiatric history and has some gender issues. He tries to engage me in a conversation about gender, but I chose to focus on the emesis issue.

Four twenty in the morning, patient with ABD pain and dsypnea with a COPD history. Her lungs are clear and the capnography shows a good wave form. Touch her side and it hurts.

I get back at five and sleep until nine when we get a call for a man in a nursing home who has fallen and has a cut on the bridge of his nose. The nurse has put a steri-strip there and thinks he needs a stitch. Dial 911.

A daughter finds her diabetic mother asleep on a bench in the lobby of her retirement community home while she waits for a ride. She is a diabetic. Her sugar is 343. The mother has no complaints. She says she just fell asleep. The daughter calls 911. We get there and inspect the patient's blood sugar log. Not a day goes by that she isn't up in the 300 or 400's. I have taken care of her before when it was in the 20s. I suggest we call her doctor. We sit there for almost an hour waiting for the doctor to call back. The mother is walking around the apartment telling jokes. Finally its time for her to take her insulin. the daughter is finally convinced to just make an appointment with the doctor's office for tomorrow and to call us if anything changes.

Then its three more nursing home calls -- a seizure, a CHF, and a chest pain. Nitro takes care of both patient's problems.

And now I'm home finally.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

A Supplement

Three-forty in the morning. Man with Alzheimer's can't pee. We take the man to the most distant hospital. History of urinary retention, can't pee, I say in my radio patch. The man is a bit of a kick. He talks about the place where he is staying: "A good place, you get three squares a day and they look after you when you are under the weather. Breakfast, scrambled, eggs, toast, some sausage, orange juice. I have major medical. People think you can rely on Social Security. You can't its only meant to be a supplement. I have a good pension."

I ask him if I could get into this place with just Social Security. "No, its only meant to be a supplement. Its a good place here. Three squares a day and they look after you when you are under the weather. Breakfast, scrambled, eggs, toast, some sausage, orange juice. I have major medical. People think you can rely on Social Security. You can't its only meant to be a supplement."

We have the same pleasant conversation about five times before we reach the hospital. I finally ask, "Well ,what do I do if I only have Social Security."

"Maybe find a dice game," he says. "Social Security is only meant to be a supplement. I'm lucky. Its a good place here. Three squares a day and they look after you when you are under the weather. Breakfast, scrambled, eggs, toast, some sausage, orange juice. I have major medical. People think you can rely on Social Security. You can't its only meant to be a supplement."

Depressed for lack of a good dice game, I don't get back to sleep until 5:15. My shift is over at six. I get up, give the narc keys to my relief, punch out, and then get back in bed and sleep until 8:30, before heading home.

This afternoon I am going to a reunion picnic for my Dominican trip, and then back to work at two for eight more hours.


Quiet afternoon and evening. Only did one call -- at a nursing home for high white blood count.

They were extremely short people this weekend, so since I slept most of the afternoon, I am doing the overnight again.

Friday, August 04, 2006

No Way

Working the overnight in the suburbs -- always a calculated risk -- will I be able to sleep or will I do calls and be sleep-deprived for a week after? I've done three calls on the first leg -- a medical alarm, a man having cluster headaches, and an apparent miscarriage. The miscarriage came in as vaginal bleeding a couple days before the woman's period is due, no possibility that she is pregnant. We get there there is blood all over the floor, and a clotty sack that looks like it might be the beginnings of a fetus. She claims she has been having regular periods and that she isn't pregnant. I explain to her in the ambulance that from everything I have seen she is having a miscarriage. She nodds and seems to understand. At the hospital, her mother is there and the nurse tells me she keeps claiming there is no way she is pregnant.

The eleven o'clock crew comes in and not two minutes later we get called for a fall with hip pain. Its in the alzheimer's unit of a retirement community. The leg appears slightly shortened and rotated, but the man has no pain when I palpate his hips. We lift him up and gently and give him an easy ride in.

I get back just before midnight.

Now if only I can sleep the rest of the shift.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Hot Dog Eating Contest

Went in for a rare six hour evening shift in the city. I was with another medic, and he said they wanted us to sign on as soon as we could because we were going to be posted down at the city park to do some kind of a standby at a hot dog eating contest. As soon as we signed on, they sent us instead on a transfer, but then a couple minutes later they took us off the transfer and assigned us to the park for hot dog eating contest. The larger event was a Battle of the Bands contest, but before that got underway there was the hot dog eating contest, and when we got there, they explained they couldn't start until we showed up. They needed us standing by in case someone choked. They wanted us on stage with our gear at the ready. I made certain we had our crick kit with us. My partner and I joked about marking everyone's crickothyroid membrane in advance and measuring them all for tube sizes.

It turned out they only had four contestants, and the contest was only going to be for 12 minutes. The champion ate all 16 on his tray and stopped with minutes to spare, although he did get a brief scare when someone told him the old guy on the end was on his second tray of hot dogs. The old guy on the end I think was in fact a homeless man who had either volunteered or been recruited to fill out the table. He only ate three hot dogs and ate them rather leisurely. We were supposed to stay around for a half hour afterwards in case any of them got sick, but all of the entrants left. We ended up staying until the end of our shift just doing a routine standbye for the concert. We sat in the air conditioned ambulance behind the stage -- the AC up so loud you couldn't even tell there was a concert going on -- reading magazines, talking about how screwed up EMS was and how we should distribute money in our 401Ks, and then at the end of the night this incredibly beautiful girl comes up and knocks on the window and asks for some band-aids. I point to my partner ans say, "Here's the band-aid man, right here. He'll take care of you," and then she asks me if we caught her set. And I said,"Yeah, you guys were smoking!" She seemed pleased with that, and my partner got her some band-aids, and I went back to reading my magazine.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Hot Again

Worked from two in the afternoon until ten at night in the suburbs. It was over 100 degrees with high humidity. Only went out once -- for a child punched in the eye. Why the recreation people called an ambulance, I don't know. We couldn't tell which eye he'd been punched in. We had to wait around for forty-five minutes to get hold of a family member. He didn't want to leave his house to get the boy so we took a refusal over the phone. The cops gave the boy a ride home.