There is no greater love...

I am but a brief episode in some people's life. I'm sure I'm one of the most forgettable parts of their lives. I'm often there at the end of their life. My presence, as a medic/ambulance driver/smiley guy who hauls the cot, is memorable, but the essence of me is easily forgotten.

That's OK. I'm not here to be memorable. I've been taking people home to die (discussions with hospice nurses) or to the operating room to die (dour looks from surgeons). It's not important to me to be the shining beacon of grace to anyone's memory. But I do love.

Each dying person, each brave-faced husband, each openly weeping brother is a recipient of my love. I truly believe that our job on this planet is to love everyone. I do that as best I can. I treat everyone with the respect and honor that I would want for myself.

During any 12 hour shift, my heart will break 4 to10 times. The last time will be as strong as the first. We all deserve love. That's what I do. It doesn't hurt me. I'm not "drained" by this burden. I come away from this with the feeling that I have given my whole heart to this. Everyone in my care deserves no less. I am in the right place at the right time.

Honor, respect and devotion to duty.

There is no greater love.



Another day on the job.

Bruno and I happen to be working together this day. He and I graduated from the same Paramedic program and during those 4 years, we discovered we like each other a lot. We both love running, pints and EMS. He volunteers in a neighborhood not far from mine where most of the area violent crime occurs.

It's my second day out of training and I'm working as an EMT-B driver until all my local Paramedic paperwork comes back. On this particular, beautiful day, our call volume was low and easy. We spent an hour parked under a tree in an arboretum reading the paper while waiting to pick up a patient from a nearby dialysis center.

Life is good!

Except for the shooting.

Later in the afternoon, we stop at an office supply store to pick up a clipboard and some pens for me (I'm a total pen whore!!). Finished with our shopping, we're sitting in the ambulance having just started the engine. From the rear:

"Ping, Pank! Pang! Ping! Ping! Pank! Pow!"

Bruno and I look at each other.

"We've been shot!" we say simultaneously. We both know what guns sound like.

"Twenty-two?" I ask skeptically.

"Nah, smaller than that. BB gun, I think." He replies.

I hazard a glance over my shoulder to see two kids running away from the parking lot.

I look over to Bruno. We nod then go out the doors simultaneously. Low and fast we slip out of the front to our respective side's rear wheels. Cars on either side provide cover. Stay in a crouch. Quick scan reveals no other shooters. My hand automatically goes to my right hip but the only thing that sits there these days is my cellphone. Great!

I come around the back of the unit and discover that Bruno's been doing the same thing I have. Low, fast and using available cover. This kid's never been trained but he knows what to do. He might live a while!

The coast is clear and a woman comes up to us to tell us she saw it all. Now comes the fun part. I call control.

"Ambulance 138 to control, We're going to need another unit to take our 5:30 call. The rear windows of our unit have been shot out. Local PD has been notified. Our location is Suchandsuch shopping plaza on Somwhereorothher Highway."

"Control to 138. (Loooonnnnggg Pause) Um, Er, Uh, Ooookaaayyyyy. Your windows have been shot out????? Uh, Yeah, um. Wait! Is everyone ok??? yeah!"

"138, Control we have no injuries."

"Control, 138. Ok, Right. yeah, Um, .....uh......Stand by!"

I think I just rocked someone's world. A short while later, another voice comes on the radio, presumably the supervisor.

"Control, 138. Stand by your position, a supervisor is on the way. Is your unit drivable?"

"138, Control. Copy supervisor en route. Unit is drivable but not fit for patient transport. PD is on scene and we have a witness."

"Control, 138. Outstanding. Disregard supervisor en route. Return to base when investigation complete."

"138, Control. Roger that. ETA 25 minutes."

Cool, baby. Nothing but cool!



Volunteer firehouse shift

I ran a call to a local residence. The call was for the father of a grade-school classmate of mine. When my former classmate came into the house I saw the look of anxiety on his face change to relief when he saw me. Somehow, my being there made it all right.

Unfortunately, we had a loooooonnnng wait at the emergency room. I went out to the waiting room from time to time to give the family updates and such. the second time I went out, my classmate and his mother were joined by about 5 people from the neighborhood. All of whom recognized me.

"I better see all of you at the Crab Feast this year!" I insisted. They laughed. The Crab Feast is our hugely successful annual fundraiser.

The second call came after midnight. It was dispatched as a car flipped into the woods on the major interstate. We arrived on scene to find a PT cruiser on its side in the woods. Both the driver and the passenger were out and talking to the police. They denied any pain at all. The passenger was a rather buxom young woman who's flimsy half-blouse had popped open during the vehicular antics. Bean was quick and business-like with a blanket while the cops and firefighters tried not to gawk.

I did a quick exam of both patients and found them to be unharmed. Really! They both were belted and both were asleep when the accident happened. The alcohol on both of their breaths was a contributing factor, no doubt. I left them in police custody.

The last call was for a woman presenting classic symptoms of choleocystits or gallstones. Nausea and abdominal cramping pain woke her that morning and she was retching yellow bile when we arrived. We transported her to the same emergency room I was at earlier. We arrived at shift-change and were quickly whisked into a room! Nice!

One of the off-going nurses gave me an update on my classmate's father and we both agreed that it was good we got him into the hospital. He had called us because his legs and "nether parts" were swelling and it turns out he had gone into persistent atrial fibrillation and the swelling was caused by fluid buildup in his tissues due to reduced cardiac output. Had he not gone to the hospital, his condition could have worsened over the next few days into full congestive heart failure.

The only other news from the volunteer front is I'm getting cleared to drive the ambulance. Bean is about to be cleared to ride as the EMS provider and I'll be able to free up a firefighter if I drive her on EMS calls. The big freightliner ambulance is a lot of fun to drive. I feel like I have the biggest Tonka truck in the neighborhood. Too bad it's not yellow!

Coming up.... Maddog has a job! and Blog website changes!