22 June 2008

Emergency Medical Slobs

You've all seen them. Shirt unbuttoned, t-shirt stretched out with the lapel mic, mustard stains, boots [un-tied, unzipped, un-laced], unshaven, unbathed...the list goes on.

Sometimes you'll see them in line at the Dunkin' Donuts. Sometimes at the ED charge desk. Sometimes sitting on the diamond plate of their [emergency response vehicle], smoking a cigarette. Looking like dogshit.

There is not a valid excuse that any of you creative writers could come up with for these people looking the way they do. I don't give a damn if they're on the back-slope of a 48 hour shift, I don't care if they just worked a code for 48 minutes, I don't care if the ambient temperature is 127 degrees Fahrenheit, and it's even hotter in the back of the [emergency response vehicle].

Don't get me wrong, if you're on scene for a prolonged extrication, I understand if your shirt comes untucked. I won't hold it against you if you're actively doing push-ups on the 350lb, 3 decker carry-down code, and you look a little 'tousled". If it's late one prom night, and you just got painted with the baked ziti and rubber chicken, mixed with a little Mike's Hard Lemonade and bottom shelf tequila, I understand.

But that's not the case.

At 0715 the other morning, I witnessed your stereotypical stretcher-slinging mule. I use derogatory terms to refer to this individual because that's the image they conveyed. Individual weighed in at a modest 300lbs. Shirt untucked, unbuttoned. Pants wrinkled, no belt, and dipping below the waistline. There is no reason to look like this coming out of Dunkin' Donuts at 0715. I know full-well that this particular [emergency vehicle] was going to a local post/detail assignment. Anyone wanna chime in with some possible reasons for looking like that?

I take pride in my appearance. It's how I was brought up. It's my background. It's one of my calling cards. There are times where I look a little disheveled, but only in the middle of a call.

-If you have time to light a cigarette, you have time to tuck your shirt in.
-Unbuttoned shirts DO NOT have a slimming effect, lardass.
-Wear a belt. There is nothing professional about plumber's crack, or a drag-chute.
-Laces and zippers are devices to fasten footwear to your feet, use them. If they're broken, replace them.
-You don't HAVE to shine your boots, but at least attempt to maintain their intended color. Scuffed up boots don't make you "salty", "experienced", or "old school".
-Your shirtfront is not a napkin.
-If you have holes in any part of your uniform, replace that component.
-T-Shirts stretch. Do not hang things from the neck of your t-shirt. No one wants to see your nipples through your neck hole.

Every single EMT or Paramedic has heard co-workers lambast (verbally of course) "newbies", "wackers", and "sparkies" for trying too hard to "look the part". They ridicule Bat-Belts, wacker pouches, and the habit of carrying too much gear. However, never has an over-enthusiastic trainee detracted from our professional image simply because they have 2 sets of trauma shears (...and a flashlight, and a rappeling harness, and a gas-mask...but I digress). It's not often enough that a fellow EMS worker makes a comment, pulls aside, or outright embarasses someone for looking like Roseanne's husband Dan in an EMS uniform.

But you're right. Calling the [emergency response vehicle] by a slang term is what truly detracts from our professional image. After all, REAL bus drivers would never look this sloppy.

David Bowers wrote an article back in '05, just saying.

17 June 2008


TOTWTYTR doesn't like it when you call your Emergency response vehicle a "bus". In the spirit of sticking with topics presently in my head, I will discuss slang terms. Besides, I like discussions, and none really occur on this four day old blog. Maybe poking the hornets nest will bring me some more company.

Personally, I see no harm in such terms, I like colorful language, and slang. But then again, I come from a mixed Mili-Fire-Medi-etc background, and slang terms, like potty mouth, are a fixture. I do agree that in the wrong arena, or context, slang terms (just like f-bombs) can detract from a professional image, however, in other settings it is harmless.

Obviously, on-scene, using slang can come across as unprofessional. You generally wouldn't refer to a "patient well-known to your facility" as a "frequent flyer" to the patient, their family, or in your entry note, but they are what they are. In the [station, garage, quarters, crew-room, barn, base] you might discuss "LOLFDGBs", "welding", "skells", "tubes", "darting", "sticks", "jakes", and "blue canaries". When, on scene, you really mean "elderly woman s/p fall", "cardioversion", "less-fortunate, unemployed, unbathed citizen", "advanced airway", "needle thoracentesis", "intravenous attempts", "firefighters" and "law enforcement officers". No harm in the appropriate arena. I'm pretty sure none of your co-workers are going to gauge your professionalism based on verbage and dialect, just like they probably won't be offended if you say "fuck-fuckity-fuck-fuck". However, in a patients [house, apartment, car, scene of emergency, domicile] you probably ought to sideline such terms. Same thing with in the ED.

Other terms are harmless, regardless of the setting. Some terms that vary from region to region, job to job, person to person, are not offensive to anyone, but may cause some confusion. Despite the fact that NIMS and ICS are the standard, you'll never take the dialect out of emergency services. You do, however, need to be mindful of it, just as you need to be mindful of slang terms on-scene. I can think of a thousand examples of such dialect within my experience, I won't bore you with a list.

"Hey Tim, go to the [truck, rig, rescue] get the [jump-kit, first-in, aid-bag] the [monitor, defib, lifepak] and the [stretcher, cot, bed]."

Ambulances have MANY different titles. I call the various Units I run on "Ambulance-[Number]" or "A-[number]". "Paramedic-[Number]" or "P-[number]. [Town] Rescue, or Rescue-1. CJH in Brick City refers to his units as "MIC-4", or 2404 or some variation thereof. We all have our labels on the radio. As long as you know what vehicle to get in, and [dispatch, control, fire alarm] knows who is assigned, labels don't make much of a difference.

What you call the vehicle in the inner sanctum doesn't matter. Just don't be a jackass and act unprofessional in front of outsiders.

Personally, I am far more offended by the term used in some regions for a handicapped vehicle with a lift. We call them "chair cars" or "chair vans" in my region. I've heard the term "Handi-Van" utilized. But tell me, WHO THE HELL thinks it's OK to call them "Invalid Coaches". Yeah, this means you New Jersey. That shit ain't right.

Back to ambulances, maybe, growing up around the [industry, profession, lifestyle] I had a skewed perspective, but I always pictured a Wheeled Coach when I sang...

"The wheels on the bus go round and round..."
"The doors on the bus go open and close..."
"The suction on the bus goes swish swish swish..."
"The siren on the bus goes waaaaa-waaa-waaanh..."
"The Psychs on the bus go 'I AM JESUS!"

Oh wait.

16 June 2008


EE over at Backboards and Band-Aid blogroll'd me. I was gonna inquire as to her reasoning, but then I read "bitch, don't fucking ask me why" and thought better of it.

Getting added to a blogroll is cool. But I don't have anything [entertaining, witty, enlightening, or intelligent] to say. Which is considerably less cool. Further, she categorized my mutterings as EMS-related. YES I AM. Just not now, or for the foreseeable future. It has been too long since I rode backwards. This fact bothers me. I have not obtained vitals, initiated an IV, dodged reverse peristalsis, or macarena'd with a psych patient, in what I consider to be an uncomfortably long time.

I am something I hate. I have a desk. I have a cup full of pens on that desk. I have a stapler (albeit not a Swingline, I wish Milton would burn this bitch down). I have one of those big blotter calendars. I have a whiteboard (that doesn't violate HIPAA). I work 0730-1730, Monday thru Friday, with occasionally weekends. What the hell am I supposed to do with a lunch break?

I miss the road.

14 June 2008


emergency -

1. A serious situation or
occurrence that happens unexpectedly and demands immediate action.
2. A condition of urgent need for action or assistance:
a state of emergency

As a Paramedic-Firefighter, one might automatically assume I'm writing this post regarding definition #2. After all, that's what we do. However, in my present, lamentable, strictly administrative role, there is very little of what we would consider "urgent need for action". Definition #1 may very well need the word "perceived" wedged before "serious".

You see, despite the fact that I am currently in the aforementioned "administrative position" (read: POG, desk-jockey, etc) , people constantly use the word "emergency" to refer to their present situation.

*Cliche Alert*: Piss-poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine. Period. If you dropped the ball, this guy shouldn't have to pick it up for you. I can, and occasionally will, but do not assume that is my responsbility.

Further, do not call an emergency contact number, refuse to give your name, claim it's an emergency, and then expect further assistance. It doesn't work that way. If you have an emergency, answer the damn questions.

Next Post: DA Civilians

Blocks, big mouths, big livers, big problems

Hey, Dude, MOVE.

Ambulance Driver does a nice job breaking down AV Blocks in terms anyone with a pulse can understand.

Rogue Medic is right on with this Rant. Hell yeah.

Woman lie, apparently size does matter. Only after they both went their separate ways and spread their Hep C, though. Bravo.

I'm no mathematician, but this seems moderately problematic.

WTF? Is this for real? I can only hope that site is designed as a trap for such criminals. Debunked x2 via Snopes. Whatev.