I picked up my cell phone for the one hundredth time in the last twenty minutes. I had finished with my Mother-May-I portion of getting my medic. I had to get ten good calls out of my way with a more seasoned Medic riding with me until the deities at Medic Command decided I was good enough (read: out of my bleeping mind) to play on my own. I had been called in at 6AM to fill in for a Medic who had just gotten suspended. Until I got "the" phone call, we were a BLS service, and had to get back-up from our mutual aid service...and I didn't want to do that.
The long standing feude between the companies made the Hatfields and McCoy's look like an afternoon bridge party. The two areas were night and day. While our little slice of paradise held some of the more active gangs in the county, 98 percent of the residents were being assisted by the State for all their needs, and the mean age of girls having babies was 16. I had seen them pop as young as fourteen. The neighboring city though had beautiful homes, a good school, and minimal crime...until the citizens of our city crossed the street into their neighborhood.
After waiting what seemed like hours in the quietness of the city, one of the supervisors came down to the station. All he did was walk in the door of the station, pat his pocket where he held his cigarettes, and motion for me to come out to the bay and talk. I obediantly grabbed my blue Zippo lighter and my pack of Newports and headed to the garage. Greg, my supervisor, all without saying a word leaned over and lit my smoke as the filter touched my lips. We both finished half before he spoke.
"You feel comfortable yet?" Greg was a man of few words, but excellent skill. He had precepted me during Paramedic Class, and even during my Command Precepting phase. We got along great; it wasn't uncommon for him and his wife to come and make the crew dinner, or just hang out during the summer months to help play back-up. Help was sparse during the summers, and with all the calls we ran, we needed it. Greg was was almost thirty years my senior; he had been in EMS before I was even an itch in my daddy's pants. I hung on his every word as if his medical knowledge were gospel.
"Yeah. Fortunately the protocols run the same as what they taught us in class, dose wise and med wise. I'm not too sure how I'm going to do flying solo on a major trauma though. You and Tracy helping the crew out on calls made it easier."
"But you're comfortable, right?" He stated calmly as he ground out what was left of his cigarette, which wasn't much. I always wondered how he managed to smoke it down to the filter, and then some. I instinctively handed over what was remaining of mine; no sense in him fumbling with his lighter to light his own. He had been having issues with swelling in his hands and feet as of late; he was working nearly every day of the week and was having issues keeping up with his medication. We had all noticed, and were doing our best to help keep him on the straight and narrow.
"Yeah, I guess, why?"
"Just got back from the Mother Ship..." The Mother Ship was the nickname we gave the largest hospital in our region which ran Medic Command.
"Dr. Polazzi and Dr. Ilania are signing you off with their blessing." With that, Greg did the sign of the cross over me, smiling.
"You got your Holy Hazmaticus. Don't kill anyone, kid."
I beamed with delight. I got the blessing from the Mother Ship. Dr. Polazzi and I had been having fun over the past few weeks on Consults. I had a deluge of interesting calls that didn't even pretend to fit in protocol. Even though there were hundreds of people calling in every day to Medic Command, he always knew who I was.
With that, Greg handed me the service pin with the word "Paramedic" stenciled in at the bottom. I fingered the pin, but didn't put it on my collar. I had several superstitions, and one I developed over the years was seeing brand new medics who put their service pin on before their first call by themselves seemed to be cursed with a White Cloud. I liked having the nickname of Princess Dark Cloud, and I wanted to keep it that way. Greg knew, and he didn't question when I put the pin in my pocket.
"Tracy's making dinner tonight at the house. Steak, Potato Au Gratin , Green Beans...none with almonds so you don't die. Don't want a FUBAR like last time..."
I winced, remembering back to the first time Tracy brought dinner. She made green beans amandine, but the almonds were cut so finely I didn't even notice. With my severe allergy, I looked like the Michelin Man within three bites. Thank God we rode the three blocks to their home in the truck, because I had left my Epi-Pen at the station.
"She's also making brownies and that lemonade with the rasberries in it. Dinner will hit the table at 6:30, but we'll see you guys at 10..."
I had to laugh. Every time dinner plans were made, we got a call at the exact same time we were to be eating. Tracy could throw down on some serious food, and I didn't want to miss pigging out on it. Fortunately, Greg and Tracy were good about it; they were both night owls and were usually up until the sun rose, when they went back to bed...
"Alright, see you at 10..."
Greg sent me off with a hug and a swat on the ass. I walked in, proudly showing off the pin.
"I wonder what my first call will be...bet it's something really messed up..."
Truer words had never been spoken. Twenty minutes later, the tones went off. I hurridly hosed the suds off the truck as I listened to the call. Easy enough, I figured, a sixty year old male lethargic. I fingered my pin on the way to the call, all sorts of excited. Within the hour, I'd be able to put my pin on and say I had truly made it.
When we reached the residence, we were greeted at the door by a caretaker. I smiled and went about asking general questions while my partnet went for vitals. As I was gathering information, my partner called to me, his voice shaking. Without turning around I answered him.
"Uh...he doesn't have a pulse..."
I stopped. "What do you mean he doesn't have a pulse..." My voice rose an octave as I felt my asshole go on lockdown status.
"His heart stopped going thumpety-thump and he stopped exchanging Carbon Dioxide for Oxygen..."
I finally looked around the corner to look at the patient. He was sitting up on the couch, his chin resting on his chest as if he were sleeping. Only then did I notice just how pale he was, and just how not moving he was. For the very first time in my career, I swore in front of the patients' family.
With that, I moved over and helped my partner get the patient on the floor. As I tilted his head back to listen, I noticed all these little white things rattling in the patients' mouth. I hurridly did a finger sweep, sweeping what looked to be little white pebbles from his mouth...with my ungloved finger. The little pebbles scattered across the floor, and we knelt amongst them to wage our battle with death.
As we fought, I noticed I just didn't feel right. My head felt all swimmy like and I started getting a headache. Before I could figure out what was going on, I saw the care giver reach into her pocket and pull out a little. brown. bottle. My eyes focused on the bottle and my jaw fell open.
"Are those...Nitro pills?"
"You mean the explody stuff? Yeah, the doc told me that if uncle was feeling funny light headed, to put these under his tongue. We lost the box they came in, but the doc said they'd work quick to make him feel better. When he wasn't feeling better, I figured I could give him more..."
"How many was more?"
"Uhm, 'bout ten, twelve."
I proceded to swear...again. Really loud this time. Not only was the patient on Nitro, but he was getting ED pills from his roommate! All I could do was shake my head and continue with the call.
At the hospital, the patient was pronounced dead on arrival. As a rule, I always made myself available to the family to answer any questions. I've found that, some ER Doctors really suck at giving bad news, so I try to be helpful when I can, but not stepping on any toes. The family asked the standard questions to which I had the best answers I could. As I was leaving, the caregiver stopped me at the door, pulling me away from the rest of his family.
"Can I ask you something?"
"Sure, what can I do for you?"
"Did the pills help? Did I do the right thing?"
So many answers went through my mind. Of course you helped him, you moron. You helped him cross over to the other side! or Well, he's dead so you figure it out. With all decorum I could muster, I explained that, what he did was right, if he felt it was right...all the while giving myself the face palm from hell.
Have Fun, and Be Safe!