Saturday, January 1, 2011

A new year Begins

 Like many folks around the world, this morning finds me groggy and with a bit of a headache and a clouded brain. Unlike many folks there was no partying for me or mine last night. No drinking and no excuse to feel the way I do. I hope it clears in an hours or so, because I fear I may have some kind of bug coming on.
 I was on duty last night, as I always seem to be on the Holidays. I was covering for one of our younger members who feel he has the right, if not the obligation, to be out on New Years Eve. I don't mind. It's hard to make volunteers work on the holidays.
 However, as we were responding from the Hospital to our second call at 2am this morning, it occurred to me that I have been "on" just about every major holiday for the last 6 years or so. Christmas, New Years, July 4th, Memorial Day, Thanksgiving, and Easter. In the beginning, I volunteered for those days because it usually gave me some action and something worthwhile to do while everybody else was partying. I missed out on some nice family activities on many of those days. But my kids are grown and my wife and I are not big party people. We are more of the 'sit around the fire and tell stories' types.
 Yesterday morning I chatted with my partner for the night and assured her that statistically in the last few years, we only get one call on New Years Eve, and that will come between 20:00 and 24:00 hours. It would be an easy night.
 My wife is nursing a very painful back problem and went to bed early. As we had not yet had a call, I remained snoozing on the couch. Around 11:30 I looked at the clock and decided that I best wait a while longer before getting all comfy in bed. At 00:30 on 1/1/11, the tones dropped for an elderly female in siezures and off we went.
 While enroute to the station, dispatch called for an Officer and when I answered up, they informed me that our seizure call was "now a cardiac arrest, CPR instructions being given". I must have made some kind of a face, keyed the mic, and said "Thank you for the update sir, could you please put out a second dispatch for our agency requesting additional EMS personnel to the scene?" Still, on New Year's eve, how many people are you gonna expect?
 We got one additional EMT, 1 Chief, and some Firefighters, plus a double medic unit. It was more than enough.
 As it turned out, CPR wasn't needed, but the elderly lady had something very strange going on and was in serious need of our help. The husband too, was a major concern for us, he was not used to all this stuff going on, did not understand any of the medical issues his wife had, and was scared, very very scared. He was breathing heavy, unable to calm down. flitting around looking for meds and phone numbers, and generally getting more and more worked up.
 The Medics arrived, and with them and my 2 techs on the patient I took the husband into the kitchen. The Chief and I explained what was going on and what we were going to do. The Chief asked if there was somebody we could call for him. I got some of the basic patient info and med list from him, and the Chief and I walked him through collecting his phone, phone book, coat, wife's purse, and helped him close up the house.  My 2nd tech drove the ALS rig behind us and we kept both medics and my first tech in the back. The medics were perplexed on this one, not finding a good root-cause. The Husband rode up front in the ambulance with me on the way in and I took the opportunity to explain to him that he had a great crew working on his wife, that we do this all the time, and that she was getting the best care possible. He asked me a lot of questions and the answers seemed to calm him down. Knowledge is power, I thought. By the time we got into the E/D, he was in control and doing just fine. His wife, not so much, but she was beginning to come around and could answer a question or two with effort. The Doctor, I noted, was also not sure what her issue was. I chatted some more with the husband while everybody else was working on the patient. He was now asking forward thinking questions and I could see he felt more in control. We left feeling that everything would work out OK for them.
 Returning from the hospital as a listened to another town's Squad being run ragged with all the bar fight, drunk, and auto-accident calls, my partner for the evening was berating me because my statistics had failed her. She said I promised her one simple call before midnight, and it came after midnight. I tried to explain about how statistics work in making predictions, but was interrupted by the radio:
 We all groaned in unison, this is never good.
 Now THIS was the call I expected 3 hours ago. On arrival, we find a conscious and VERY drunk male who had been drinking vodka since before sundown on New Years Eve, it is now 2am. The caller (quite sober) apologized for calling, said she could not arouse him, and could not feel a pulse at first. She didn't think a transport was necessary. He was awake now, could answer questions, etc. Vitals all check out good. Sense of humor intact. Patient refuses. I can see no reason to waste a hospital bed on somebody who is just plain drunk. Neither can anyone else in the room. We RMA'd (AMA) and went home after wishing the remainder of the assembled party a Happy New Year.
 I got home at 03:00 and this time I went to bed. When I got up this morning, I realized that I did both those jobs with the wrong radio identifier. At midnight I changed from EMS Captain to Fire Lt.. I don't think anybody noticed, least of all the new Captain, who was at a party somewhere.
 Tonight will be MY new Year's eve.
 Tomorrow night I am on duty again on my regular night. Monday I will return to the paying job and everybody will ask what I did on New Years Eve. "Pretty much nothing, just the same old thing", I'll say.
 In 2011 I think I will begin to enjoy some of these holidays like normal people, with friends and perhaps a couple of beers.
 Here's to all the readers and fellow bloggers out there, may you have a safe, happy, and healthy New Year. May we all have a few laughs and get through the New Year smarter and better than last year, and may you all do some good for your fellow man.

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