Friday night found the firehouse busy and bustling. As I mentioned earlier, we have a house we're going to burn down and this weekend is the big "Burn." There were a lot of people around getting things ready for the first burn the next day and a bunch of extra people in the station to cover for staffing. I offered to help where I could but chief was just glad to have me staff the ambulance so he wouldn't have to "punish" somebody by putting them on the ambulance assignment. Fine by me!

2 calls. Nothing as dramatic as last week but good calls in that they completed my required number of runs. I can now be an EMS officer and ride in the front seat! J was in the station this weekend and on both calls and our dinner run, she had me sit up front to get more practice with the maps and radios.

I love it when J drives. She's got the perfect balance of situational awareness and daring that makes her an excellent ambulance driver. We have a medium duty ambulance and it's like a big truck to me. When J is driving, the ambulance dances through traffic, around corners and down the street. Imagine a 350lb football player dancing ballet, and being extremely good at it! It's awesome to see from the front seat.

J had an excellent opportunity to display her driving skill on our first call. 17 month old child, vomiting, trouble breathing. BANG! we're out like a shot! I'm in the front seat and the address is buried in the apartment complex. The ambulance is swerving and flying and my job is to get into the mapbook and figure out how the hell we get there. At first, I think, "How the hell am I going to do this?" This lasted for about 15 seconds until I slipped into "underway mode." I have plotted out complicated navigational courses and fixed out position on a detailed NOAA chart, under a dim red light while riding in a small boat in 4-5 foot seas in a storm. Finding a house on a map in an ambulance is not much different.

Streetname-page reference, find the page, find the street, find the building, memorize the landmarks, give directions. We get there in 2 minutes and 20 seconds. Then we have to run about 75 yards to the entrance to the apartment building and up 3 flights of stairs. Despite her svelte appearance and the fact she quit smoking, J cannot keep up with me. Hell, I run marathons! Dashing to a 3rd floor apartment is nothing. My old buddy S, who rode 3rd on the call, came up last since he had the O2 bag and he's wearing his turnout pants and boots.

Bang on the door, Man opens it and he's holding a toddler who gives me a huge grin as soon as we walk in.

"Sir, is this the sick child you called about?" I ask. J gives the little fellow a poke in the belly for fun and he giggles and twitters.

"Yes." says the father. Mom comes out of the kitchen and I ask if there's anyone else in the house. I see no evidence of pets or dogs. I hate being surprised by pets or extra people. No pets and no other people in the apartment. Just a worried couple with a healthy kid who's gotten a little sick. We try to get vitals but the little guy's all about playing and wiggling around. As J and I check out the little one, his parents visibly de-stress a few notches. They decide not to have us take their son to the ED and we assure them that we'll come running if they call us again. The family is from Africa and I got the feeling they didn't know what to expect when they called 911. The father kept repeating his amazement at how fast we got there.

All told, we were out for 20 minutes and I think that did a lot for that young family's state of mind.

Our second call was a hurt swollen knee, can't walk. J is driving, I'm 2nd and H is in the back. This is the 2nd time this guy's knee has gone out and he remembered J from the last time. (J is pretty hard to forget.) We load him up into a position of comfort and transport him to the ED. He's in a bit of pain but H, the patient and I are joking and having a pretty relaxed time while I get his vitals. H started teasing me about my ability to get a good BP by auscultation in the noisy ambulance.

"I got the skills to pay the bills!" I say as I crank up the Schmack-talk. The patient is right on board with this and by the time we get to the hospital, the 3 of us are joking back and forth like crazy. He's a low priority patient and, of course we have to wait a while in the ED to get him a bed. We aren't the only ones. about 4 other crews arrive with low priority patients, Migrane, split lip, dizziness with good vitals and a frequent flyer, so we have quite a crowd in triage. Outside, at the ambulance dock, there is quite a crowd as well. One of the ambulances has failed to start and is being jumped, blocking all the other ones in the ambulance bay. It's a slow night so, about 10-15 of us end up hanging around, joking, teasing, smoking and just being sociable for about 20 minutes until we can all leave.

It was a good time and the camaraderie that I like so much was definitely there. Of course there was some friendly inter-station rivalry but all in all, it was very agreeable.

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