What I like about EMS is you never know where you are going to find yourself. Somedays are pretty boring and routine (nursing home calls and fender benders), but then the next moment, you find yourself in an upside down car, or diving head first through an open window of a locked house, or climbing a scaffold of a five story building. You could be in a penthouse suite overlooking the city or in the kitchen of McDonald’s, under a machine in a factory with loaves of freshly made bread whizzing over your head or even in the ring at Wrestlemania (Hartford 1995!).
Yesterday we got called to an elderly housing complex – a complex we go to all the time – for a fall outside from a motorized wheel chair. We find a woman lying on the ground in front of her wheelchair, covered with blankets – it’s quite cold out — her face bloodied, but with no apparent injury other than a small cut by her eye. She doesn’t want to go to the hospital, but we insist on at least getting her on our stretcher and into the back of the ambulance where with the heat going we can warm her up and check her out more thoroughly. She is concerned about her wheelchair, but since we are right in front of the complex’s rec center, we say we’ll just wheel it in there in case we take her to the hospital. The chairs, which weigh over 250 pounds, are far too heavy obviously to transport in the ambulance.
Once we get her warm and cleaned up, the cut looks quite minor and we place a band-aid over it. No neck or back pain and no LOC, she does not wish to be transported, so we find out which building she lives in and tell her we will drive her over to it and take her in to her apartment on our stretcher. But what about the wheelchair? No problem, we say. I offer to wheel it over while my partners transport her.
Be careful she says the controls are very touchy. (It turns out the chair is a demo and she was out on her first ride. The touchy controls tripped her up.)
It takes me a little while to figure out how to turn the chair on, and then once it is on, I have a hard time making it go straight as I stand with one hand on the joy stick and one on the chair. An elderly woman bystander offers tips. “It’s easier if you sit in it,” she says.
And so I do. It takes me a little while to get the hang of it, but then I am off to the races. Feet up on the foot rests, arms on the arms rest, left hand on the joy stick I go motoring down the walkway. The speedometer reads 1.4 MPH. I put the hammer down and the speedometer hits 1.5.
What a beautiful day. I look at the trees, the leaves. I wave to a woman watching me from the balcony. She waves back. This is great! My destination is two buildings away. I wish it were four or five.
In my head, I hear The Who’s “Going Mobile.”
I’m going home
And when I want to go home, I’m going mobile
…Keep me moving
…Mobile, mobile, mobile, yeah