I had scheduled with a local fire academy to sit in on the practical test they were conducting for their paramedic and EMT-I candidates. I just needed to retest the IV start station and that's it.
I get there 1/2 hour early, my stomach a roiling storm of anxiety.
"Anxiety, Maddog?" you ask, "You just have to go in, do one thing you've done a million times and you're a paramedic! What could make you so anxious?"
Well, you're right. It is an easy thing. I just have to go, start an IV on a mannequin arm, don't do anything stupid and I'm done. The problem is the stakes.
If I fail this one thing, if I goof up or get snagged on a technicality, the consequences are maddeningly painful.
I'd have to go back to "remedial training" which is about 24-40 hours of refresher training and then take all 12 of the practical stations again!!!
All because of a 3-inch piece of tape.
Yes, I'm anxious.
I'm in a classroom full of people.
They call my name second.
I enter the adjacent auditorium and walk up to the IV testing station. On the table are two mannequin arms. One has an IV established and another is untouched. I ask the evaluator and she tells me that the one with the existing IV is for the medication administration portion of the test. I examine it and see that the catheter is secured to the arm with:
A 3-INCH CHEVRON OF F*****G TAPE!!!!!!!
Yes, that's right. The IV that was started by "the expert" is done in a manner that failed me the last time.
Back on target, I review my materials. The evaluator tells me that we don't have the clear, sterile occlusive dressings (commonly called Tegaderm), so I'll either have to use tape or simulate. Ok, no problem. I'm getting the sense that this testing site is not as picky as my last time around.
I do my thing.
I don't mess up (I think).
The evaluator gives me no indication of whether I failed or not. That's it. I've taken my shot. Now I have to wait and hear if I'm a paramedic or a Pair-of-hands.
This is the worst part.
I go back to the classroom where the rest of the candidates are waiting. A few questioning looks come my way as I come in. I shrug. I think I passed but I don't know for sure. I review my copy of the evaluation sheet. I can't see that I've done anything wrong. Still, I'm not sure if the evaluator has dinged me on anything.
I listen to my iPod. I meditate. I try to read. I try anything to distract myself from the maddening wait.
Finally a testing official comes in to the room with a score sheet in his hand. I'm ready!
He calls someone else! ARGH!
Again he comes in! Nope! Not me.
One more time? He butchers my last name but I don't care.
Out in the hall, I ask him, "Is it remedial training and full retest for me?"
He's got a poker face. He has to ask me the official questions, "Do you have any complaints of discrimination or were there equipment failures?" This is a requirement before they give us our results. It's also the candidate's only opportunity to lodge a complaint.
I've got no complaints and I tell him so.
The poker face vanishes. A big smile and a handshake. "Congratulations!"
Posted by --maddog at 18:18