Sunday, March 11, 2007

Another Tuesday 24

Just read online of a line-of-duty death of a Pennsylvania EMT. He was responding to quarters at 3AM for a call to assist a pregnant woman. They talk of the brotherhood amongst firefighters or police officers, but I feel a strong connection to other EMTs and medics out there. Let's all pray that our brother's family, fellow EMTs, and the community find some peace in the days to come.

A shitty way to start a blog I suppose. Maybe its cause I'm trying to do this as a stream of consciousness thing, lest I never get around to writing it. I currently have a dismally slow and unreliable freaking dial-up connection at home, therefore I don't foresee spending any time online while at home updating this thing. Luckily the two squads I run with both allow free access to the web (gotta wait in line when its quiet to use it though ), so hopefully I can update when I'm on duty.

Shifts vary here at AmCare (, but generally start at 0800 and run till 1700 or from 1800 to 0800 the next day. 24s are always 0800-0800. Been slow today (sorry, I guess I just jinxed myself): My partner Kari and I ran 2 calls during the day shift that both ended up being cancelled, and just completed the return leg of a sick nursing home patient "sent to the ED and back to the nursing home with a prescription" pair of runs. Kari's sleeping now, or at least trying to, trying to get into REM before I start snoring.

I'm hoping to make this a diary of sorts with EMS as the main topic, but also a way to flesh out ideas, feelings, gripes, and praises for the way the State of Vermont in general and our district (District 1) runs things. I'll likely toss in a pinch of bitch about the local hospital, though I suppose they deserve a pinch of praise regularly as well.

A little background is in order I suppose, assuming that at some point someone other than myself will read at least some of this. You should know at least a little bit about who you're dealing with here. I am a relative newcomer to EMS. Though I'd been interested for years, I took no courses or training (not even basic first aid) until I started my EMT-B class in the spring of 2005. I began ride-alongs with Enosburg Ambulance (the 2nd service I run with) a couple months prior to my B class starting up, but never witnessesed anything but a few routine calls. Heck, I didn't even know if I could handle the stress and demands of the work. But the second I stepped into the back of the ambulance on my first ride-along, I could feel an intense sense of belonging. Maybe other EMTs feel the same way, but it was almost as if (to steal a line from the Blues Brothers movie) I was "on a mission from God."

My B class was an intensive course that took place over seven weeks starting in June of 05. We did (if I remember correctly) Monday and Wednesday nites for 3-4 hours and every other weekend, Sat. and Sun. from 0800 to 1600. I was blessed with a fantastic teacher, Pat Malone of the University of Vermont. His dynamic and challenging teaching style really forced us to think, not just learn techniques. His best lesson was (and is to this day something I incorporate into nearly every call) that a good EMT "gets it done." Having a can-do attitude (not cockiness) on calls has resulted in some really great patient care (and that's what it's all about folks.)

Once I realized that EMS could be a career and not just a very part time neighbor-helping-neighbor deal, I decided that I would make it my career. I was a consulting forester for nearly 10 years prior to becoming an EMT, and had found myself in a career and job that I couldn't freaking stand anymore. Going from that to something I absolutely love is just amazing. I was offered a full-time position with AmCare the very day I received word that I had passed the National Registry B exam. My boss (Walter Krul, also the owner and director of Amcare) told me during the interview that he really hoped to have as close to an all-ALS staff as possible, and wanted me to persue my Intermediate training when I felt ready. I think I ran with Amcare for a full 3 days before finding an I class and signing up. I earned my I in December of '05, just 7 months after I got my CPR card (which was my first instruction in 1st aid.)

Having written that I suppose the argument could be made that I jumped in too soon. However I've always been a quick study, and have been blessed with a great group of EMTs here who teach through example on nearly every call.

Amcare is located in St. Albans, VT, which is the largest city in our county (Franklin), and in our district. We cover 911 calls for St. Albans City and the towns of St. Albans, Georgia, and Fairfield, and also provide transport service throughout northern New England (though I'd say 90% of our transports are from our local hospital (Northwestern Medical Center, hereto referred to as NMC, web site at ) to FAHC (Fletcher Allen Health Center, Vermont's largest hospital, , in Burlington, nearly 30 miles south of St. Albans.) For anyone not familiar with Vermont, it will likely come as a surprize to learn that the total population (2000 census data) of Franklin County is just over 45,000. Our service area is rural by just about any standards, but decidedly urban when compared to the rest of the district.

VT EMS District 1 is made up of 15 towns and one city which are served by 13 EMS services: Eight ambulance squads and five 1st Responder squads. While AmCare's territory is located essentially adjacent to NMC and thus our total time spent per E-call is relatively short, it is not uncommon, due to the rural nature of this area, for some squads to have transport times upwards of 45 minutes, and that's if the roads are not snowy, icy, or otherwise messed up.

OK, its now past 0034 and while I have tomorrow off, I suppose I should try to grab some sleep in the likely event that we run some calls tonight.

Posted: 00h32, February 21, 2007

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