So many people ask me about medic life. They ask about the things that I’ve seen, people I’ve met and the scenes I’ve been on. The most common question is “How do you do it??”. As I just “celebrated” 10 years on the medic unit I would have to now give the honest answer to that question as “I honestly don’t know how I do it”.
I didn’t grow up wanting to be a firefighter or a paramedic. In fact I wanted to be a show girl. That’s right a show girl! Hair, cake faced makeup, big head dress, sequined outfit with feathers and all. The hopes for Vegas lights were quickly dimmed when I realized I not only have 2 left feet but also NEEDED to have actual contact with people in order to feel any kind of purpose in life. BYE BYE Vegas hello EMS.
Here’s to the next 10 years on the medic unit and my first hand account of me being able to serve the citizens I grew up with in my home state and county! Stay tuned
All in a days work
So I’ve decided I’ll write the majority of these posts after 10pm ( my witching hour) so that I can be real and honest with y’all. Unfortunately at my station the majority of my calls are run in the late afternoon until the next morning when we get off at 7am. We work a 24 hour shift from 7am to 7am so going most of the daytime not running any calls makes the day go by pretty slow . Without fail we will get a call during one of our meals and usually right around ” bedtime”. Although we run an considerable amount of calls we normally don’t transport many of our patients due to the fact they aren’t emergencies needing advanced care. This is a blessing and a curse because this means we spend a lot of time running up and down the road going from call to call not really giving any care. For anyone who thinks this makes for an easy day better think again!
Now that you have a run down of what we are working with you can follow along in all the fun!
36 hours and I wanna go home
Don’t get me wrong…having the ability to work over time and make a nice little chunk of money is nice and all but it makes for a long ass week! #firstworldproblems
I woke up this morning, sweaty, gross and with shaky hands (again). Checked my blood sugar (again) and it was 99. Ok, so why do I feel like complete crappola?? I was lucky enough to work at a slower station the first 12 hours of my shift and actually got a good amount of rest. I wont say sleep because I had about 100 nightmares and literally couldn’t fell back into a deep sleep for the life of me. The second 24 hours of my shift I also got a good amount of rest during the night ( outside of my night sweats) but still felt so out of it when it was time to go home.
It’s no secret that within a 36 hour working hour period your body experiences a million different changes from being hot , cold, sweaty, excited, scared etc. It’s always the hardest my first day home especially because I want to do something fun with the family since I’ve been away from them. Hopefully a quick nap and lots of kid snuggles will pep me up !
This isn’t my first rodeo
It always amazes me the lies that we are told as health care providers. I’m not sure why people choose to not be 100% honest with the information that they provide us while we hold their lives in our hands. Like seriously … I really don’t care if you drank 5 beers or 10 beers if I’m only here to fix your stubbed toe. I DO care if you ” forget” to tell me you have some highly contagious disease while I’m giving you patient care in the back of a 6 x 8 box. Please HELP me HELP you. Be honest, be upfront and one last thing … please don’t be rude! It’s hard for us to work when 87 people are screaming in our faces. Please remember we ARE human and do the best we can with what we are given. Rudeness won’t get you to the hospital quicker and it won’t make whatever illness you have instantly go away. Remember that we generally love people ! It’s why we picked this career. Remember we ARE formally trained and aren’t only “ambulance drivers”. We went to college, we’ve seen a lot , done a lot and some of us have felt a lot. Last but not least please remember to trust us to help you … this isn’t our first rodeo.
Follow the yellow brick road
There was a saying in my paramedic class that we learned while going over proper placement of the endotracheal tube. While using a small device called the colormetric device, you would “follow the yellow brick road” to see if your tube placement was correct. It was something that I learned almost 12 years ago and it has stuck with me ever since.
As a paramedic, you learn how to do things the “book way” and then the “street way”. The street way comes to you after you have run a few calls, had a few butt pucker moments and have miss a line or 2 ( or 12 but who’s counting). Sometimes in order to actually save a life you have to think outside the box a bit. Even though as medics we are super flexible and can think on our toes,it’s also very easy to get stuck in our ways. For the most part being stuck in your ways or having your own way of doing something won’t impact your day much. Sometimes the repetitiveness will make your day go a lot smoother. Unfortunately, that same repetitiveness can come back and bite you right in you butt as well. During the day you have to think about other things that are not coming from a medical point of view. You are responsible for many other little pieces that make up the big pie. For example, I recently learned that something very simple such as not carrying your radio, can change the course of your entire shift. You never know when a psycho will decide to steal your apparatus and drive it to 7-11 for free slurpee day while you are sitting clueless in the ER checking on your last pedestrian struck. You see? Wouldn’t that be shame to have to encounter? So I guess the moral of this story is not only always carry your radio while following the yellow brick road but to also be flexible just in case you never reach OZ.
Driving an ambulance
If I had a dollar for every time someone approached me as I exiting my rig asking ” You drive this big thing?” I’d be a rich lady. Without stating the the obvious of me actually exiting the drivers side, women CAN drive big apparatus. It annoys me to no end when I’m questioned about my strength, skill or capability to perform aspects of this job. I’ve been in the fire service since 2004 and feel like I’ve earned a couple of creds! Although I don’t like being questioned about driving the unit I CERTAINLY do not appreciate being called the ” ambulance driver” either. Smh.
The worst part apart driving these pieces is that there are so many aspects that are beyond our control. Pedestrians, other drivers, road conditions etc. It still baffles me to this day why someone wouldn’t yield to an emergency vehicle or even go as far as cursing or flipping us off just because they had to move out of the way. Dozens if not hundreds of times people straight stop dead in their tracks while we are behind them or even pull out in front of us and stop. People ……this IS NOT a good idea. This can get you KILLED!! Please for the love of God pay attention. What kills me even more is when pedestrians are paying attention and choose to run out and try to cross the road as we approach them. Once again this can get you KILLED. Just imagine we are responding to your family members home and have some courtesy for us. We want to make it home in one piece at the end of our shifts without seriously injuring or mamming anyone with our apparatus. Thanks in advance.
It’s MORE than a job
I got hired at the tender age of 19. I worked at Hooters at the time and was going to school to become a nurse. I had NO idea what ” growing up” in the fire department would do for me. I was a kid, a volunteer with a small taste of what this ” job” would turn out to provide. It has provided a life for me and my family waaaay beyond my imagination. It has opened my eyes to the real world, the people around me and the FACTS of what humans are capable of.
The people that I have gotten to experience these things with have pretty much become my family. They have seen me at my best, gotten to deal with me at my worst and we still somehow all really enjoy each other’s company LOL. We’ve had babies, some have gotten married, divorced, remarried, lost parents, gone through hardships and experienced tremendous losses together. We have prayed together, cried together, laughed so hard we cried together and argued like family members.
All of these things made it incredibly hard to make the much needed but very hard change in firehouses. The people I had spent the last 3.5 years with will no longer be standing at the back door every 4th day with shit eating grins on their faces (usually due to lots of morning pranks ). I’d have a new group of ” family” to get to know, laugh, joke and perform my job beside. While it’s bitter sweet, I welcome growing my ” family” and cherish the memories of my time serving with some the best people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.
September 11th is a somber day for our nation and a hard reminder of the dangers of the best job in the world. Last year I hosted a church service and pot luck dinner on the farm with my fellow firefighter co workers and close family. As the date approached, I decided that this year I would do something else to show my appreciation for my profession. Hurricane Harvey ripped through Texas the week before and caused damage that hasn’t been seen before. My coworker Tony saw a need and quickly put together a group of people that would go directly down to Texas and serve our FD family. Over the next week, we were able to raise over 12k, a truck, a truck load full of supplies and the funds for the plane tickets through the generosity of many wonderful people. I’m actually writing this post 5 hours into our journey as we enter the local grocery store to buy breakfast for a firehouse with 20 members. I will keep you posted on our journey! I have to go for now … we are fighting over the bacon LOL
Maryland takes on Harvey
Here are the donations Chesapeake Church of Huntington raised for us! We were so blessed to have the support of such amazing people! They offered so much support, prayed over us and helped us logistically figure out how we could get the stuff down to Texas. God bless Olivia and Scott (both 1619 members) for making the 27 hour drive down to to Texas in a truck donated by a local business owner.
We didn’t hesitate when it came to getting tickets fly down to Houston. My coworkers posted a couple of videos and I got an email one night. It was from my high school friends mother. She was a nurse for 29 years, her daughter is a nurse, her son in a law a firefighter and her dear late husband a fire lieutenant. We spoke on the phone one night and she stated, “He( her late husband ) would be there in a heartbeat”. She then turned around and paid for all 10 plane tickets! After we both cried a bit on the phone I hung up and knew for sure it would all come together!
Here we are under this really cool sign in the airport! We landed and had no idea what we were walking into. All we knew is that our brothers and sisters needed help. Equipt with a 26-foot box truck full of stuff, a couple of bags and a pocket of money we hit the ground running.
Our first morning we woke up at 3, loaded u the truck and headed to DD. No firehouse is complete without fresh coffee! We cooked eggs, pancakes, sausage, biscuits and tater tots for 20 of us and sat down and broke bread together like a family. I’ll tell ya one thing, there is nothing like sitting around the firehouse table! even though we literally met these guys 1 hour prior to us sitting down together it felt just like a family meal. We talked about Houston, the flood, our families and everything in between.
This firehouse was amazing! Known as “The Rock” Station 28 ‘s halls are lined with incredible fire memorabilia collected from members. Being in that space on September 12th was an overwhelming experience as many of the items are from 9/11. The crew was extremely welcoming and cheery despite the events that occurred in their city last week.
This is where the magic started to happen. We went to the local and we immediately greeted at the door by Luke( pictured in the long sleeved black shirt on the end). He was like a long lost brother I never had LOL. He offered us drinks, a place to sit, shirts, hats and a chiropractic spinal adjustment….wait what? Yes!! We were able to get our spines adjusted before we unloaded our 26-foot truck into their trailer.
Later that night we saw this devastation on the side of the road on our way to where we were staying. Our co worker sister opened up her home to us and her husband gave us a tour of the area. That night we met a pastor who lost all the equipment in his church and 1 day before the insurance adjustor came out some scum bag came and stole all of his stuff 🙁
All of the firehouses had such pride in their stations.
Miguel, our co worker filmed the entire trip and will be making a documentary on the whole experience. I’m sure it will be a good glimpse into what we experienced.
We are here for you Texas, stay strong!
When coffee is life
If you were to walk into a firehouse first thing in the morning you would probably hear all of the worlds problems being solved around the coffee pot. Not only does coffee bring us together in the morning but it keeps us going through the day! Truth be told, when I first got hired I didn’t even know how to turn on a coffee machine! Now, if I make it through a single shift without having at least 2 cups it’s a miracle. As a firefighter you become like family to your co workers and in this picture it shows a little tradition we carried on for months. One of my best friends worked at the next station over so in between calls we would try to meet up for a cup of Joe and some laughs. When this picture popped up in my ” On the this day” app on Facebook, it made me smile and remember all the good times we had over our morning routine. This is actually one of the first pictures I have with my then partner ( now husband ❤). Thanks Starbucks
Another year down with the best career in the world.This morning I woke up in my bunk at the firehouse and thought about all the amazing people I met on the job this year. If my patients were in the mood, I found myself frequently talking to them about their lives, loved ones and other random thoughts. This year I had a blind patient tell me ” You should quit and do voice-overs!” I had another tell me ” Nay Nay, you’re my best friend” and then actually kiss me on the cheek LOL. I think the one that stands out the most was my intoxicated patient last shift with a head injury who after asking me my name a dozen times asked me if I was a ” good person”. That not a question I’ve ever been asked before and definitely not a question I’d expect a sick man to ask. My answer came out as fluid as the question was asked and I blurted out ” Well..sometimes!” He gave me a glare and I chuckled and revised my answer to go on to explain that “I’m a great person but I’ve got work to do”. Once again, this job has sparked something inside of me at the most unexpected moment and this was certainly right on time for the new year.
Long Long Gone
April 1st started in the office and by April 5th I hated it. I missed my crew, missed morning breakfast chats and even missed housework! Couldn’t sleep the first week, was up waiting for a call, waiting to jump into action. April 12th had my first patient tell me ” I changed their life”… “walking angels” she called us. Its now the end of May and my thoughts have totally changed. Not a day has gone by that someone has said that either “The Lords work is being done” or that they “Don’t know what they would without us”. All I’ll say tonight is GIVE TIME SOME TIME.
Long Long Gone -Part 2
Maybe I should have realized that with the post above being called “Long Long Gone” that I was on the verge of being just that! As of November 21st, 2018 I am retired (early) from the fire department….more on that later! Life is good, I’m HAPPY and I plan on continuing “my career” in other ways. Medicine will always have my heart but family comes first. I’ll always love and cherish the time I spent with my work family and hope to keep in touch with mostly everyone (MOSTLY ) LOL