Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Old and Crusty

Anyone who's anyone in this game has seen "Bringing Out The Dead," starring Nick cage and directed by Scorsese. The movie is based on the book by Joe Connelly.

I found out when starting my medic class that one of the characters in the book is based on someone who currently works as a Medic at one of the places where we do ambulance rotations. There are lots of stories about this man, who we all know only as Marcus. Most recently, I heard him described as a "curmudgeon." I had spoken to him in the past about non-EMS related things and had thought that this was a fair description of his personality. We just didn't see eye-to-eye on things.

This past weekend I worked my first ever tour with this man, and was delightfully surprised. He was a pleasant enough individual, and true to the movie, some of the qualities portrayed shone through quite clearly. For instance: he drives sllloooowwww. Case in point: On our response to the Unconscious, I'm pretty sure we didn't exceed 7 mph.... with a clear path ahead of us... and our lights and sirens going.........! I just have to say... I understand being cautious,... but why stop at the green lights?

All in all, we only did one job, so I reserve whatever judgment I have on his performance as a Medic and a teacher... though I'm sure of this now: whatever criticisms I may have of him, he will never find out. There's only so much you can disagree about with a person who's been working the streets since 1978.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

A real Paramedic?

It's funny, isn't it? At this point in time, I'm just about nearing the halfway point in Medic school. An odd accomplishment. The novelty of going to class and working the rotations has pretty much worn off. We've lost a number of students, so that the room where we have lectures is only half as full as on Day One. I've been the the NYC Morgue, the Operating Room, NYPD's Central Booking, and a number of other places where I didn't think I belonged a mere five and a half months ago.

I've learned a load of skills that I had only dreamed about performing, once upon a time, and actually done them on real people without any real harm (at least, no permanent harm). I've now started countless IVs, taken EKGs, and finger sticks. I've intubated people, paced and defibrillated people. I've carefully carted my City's poor, homeless, and hunger, to a safe place off the streets, where they could get a warm meal (and put up with the derogatory banter from everyone they came in contact with).

And yet, though we've studied Anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, patient assessment, pharmacology, airway management, trauma, and pulmonology, we still sit on the cusp of cardiology and still have another six months of class to go.

One of my friends, who I know from school and from a volunteer ambulance corps, is a BLS provider. He asked me the other day, whether I was starting to feel like a real Paramedic? The truthful answer to this question is: No. I don't. I feel like an EMT who now can start IVs and intubate, etc.

A few weeks into class, one of my classmates came to lecture wearing a borrowed paramedic job shirt. He had just got puked on during a rotation and didn't have any extra clothes. Our instructor riped into him. "Do you really think you're ready to wear a white patch! Do you?!" he yelled. At first I thought this uproar was about paramedic pride. An elite group of few who protect their rank with indignant honor. Yet now, I think differently. I realize that the white patch is as much an journey of self, as of just completing the Paramedic course. The thinking is different from a paramedic as from an EMT, just as thinking is different from an EMT to a lay person. I can only assume that sooner or later my thinking will shift from BLS provider to ALS provider. But, until that time, I'm still just an EMT.

Sorry Boys.....

Note to self: Do not try to drive ambulance down steps in Central Park!