Last Friday:

Got there early, hoping to get some calls in and I was not disappointed. At around 6:00pm, we got a call of a woman fallen on the platform of a local commuter rail station with a hurt leg. Oh boy, I had visions of a 300+ lb woman lying on the tile of the platform calling out for the baby Jesus to save her.

Well, it was a normal sized, embarrassed, professional looking woman in a considerable amount of pain with a very swollen ankle. She was on the landing in the middle of a set of stone steps leading from the platform down to ground level. It seems she rolled her ankle on a step and went down. No other trauma and she didn't hit her head or any other part of her body. She was extremely polite and kind as we move her from the ground to a stair chair to the stretcher to the ambulance.

(I know I have some non-EMS readers. For those of you who read this and don't understand the terms I use, email me or leave a comment and I'll fill you in)

I stabilized her ankle in the ambulance (it was cold outside & she was chilly), put an ice pack on and we had an uneventful transport to the local Emergency Department. An ED that was full of low priority patients. A hurt ankle with good vital signs and no extreme pain is an even lower priority. We had to put her in a wheelchair and set her out in the general waiting room to wait forever. Purgatory can't be any worse. Bleah. To her credit, she took it all with grace. We, on the other hand, exited with grace and got something to eat on the way back.

I had brought my sewing machine and sewing kit to the firehouse that night and there were a couple folks that needed some work. I had seen some people going around in un-hemmed pants and without patches on their shirts before and so I took to emailing everyone before I came in for a duty night to let them know I'd do some sewing for free. Some of the people there have been paying $20 per pair of pants for the worst hem jobs I've ever seen.

I had a few takers that night. One of them, B, had a crappy hem job that I'd seen before, with a small tear in it. I unstitched and re-sewed both cuffs of his pants properly, with the edge rolled into the hem. I just couldn't stand to see them all raggedy. He asked me, with a skeptical "are you a sissy boy?" look on his face, "How come you know how to sew?"

"Four years of sea-time." I said and and kept sewing.

"Right, of course, Duh!" said B.

I imagined scenes of salty old sailors with tattoos and grizzly beards bent over needle and thread making a new mainsail or foretopgallant. I tried to restrain myself from squinting one side of my face and saying "ARRRR!"

Then I went ahead and said it anyway.

3 pairs of pants hemmed and a few patches later the bell goes off again. 13 month old having seizures. I'm riding second and, J#2 (we'll call her J2 from now on) was driving. In the apartments again and I had to make a decision to try to get the ambulance in the back way since the map showed a hell of a long walk to get to the front. Fortunately, there was an easy way to the apartment from the back and we only had to run up a hill with steps. I'm the marathon runner at the firehouse and J2 is not exactly Cathy Decker. I think she was about to pop a gasket by the time we made it to the door. Me, not even winded.

We find a naked infant unresponsive and breathing through his mouth, in the arms of his grandmother. The place smells like pee. He's hot to the touch and I get a response from him when I tap the bottoms of his feet. Wicked fast pulse, clear lungs, lethargic movement. Mom is hovering, sisters, aunts and other female members of this huge West African family are pouring through the door. I let Grandmom hold the baby and enlist her help holding a non-rebreather mask to the child while we get some good O2 going.

The medics show up and one of them was on the GSW call before. I say "Hello" and she recognizes me. "Good to see ya!"

The baby is responding very well to the O2 and almost immediately wakes up and cools off. Mom says he's been sick since Monday with a cough. He's still breathing through his mouth and there's a lot of dried mucus in his nostrils. Looks like he got too hot and started to seize. Mom and Grandmom took all his clothes off to help him cool and called us. I think that's when the little guy tinkled on the carpet. I know because I managed to kneel in it when I was getting down low for a better look at him. BLEAH!

When some Africans get very dry skin it develops a scaly appearance. I can tell this little guy is super active. He's got patches of dry scaly skin from just above his knees to the midpoint of his shins. He's a crawler and sure enough, once he become alert he starts to wiggle around to look at everyone and take it all in with his big brown eyes.

One of the medics goes to listen to lung sound and, apparently, she doesn't warm up her stethoscope first. The cold of it surprises the kid and he starts to holler and cry. All of us, Medics, EMTs and relatives visibly relax. His condition is consistently improving and my blood pressure returns to normal.

We load him up and he and mom take a ride to the now-quiet Emergency Department. He was so interested in everything I was doing and he looked at the world like he was eating it with his eyes. I love children but they scare the hell out of me when they're sick.

The only other call that night was us and the rescue squad on an MVA. By the time we got there, both drivers are out and one of them is surrounded by cops. The cop-free driver refuses transport and the cop-laden one is obviously getting a ride to lockup rather than the ED. I'm standing by while J2 gets a patient refusal form signed and I can smell the booze when the wind shifts. Yep, he's going to a nice warm cell tonight.

The cars are a sight to see. Near as I can tell the drunk guy came surging out of a parking lot and hit the sober one so hard in the rear bumper that it spun his big sedan around 180 degrees and the drunk guy's airbags went off.

Dang! I'm glad nobody was hurt. My patience for drunk drivers is no more than drunk boaters.

Thanks for reading. I'll see you all next week.


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