Equipment? (Brain) Malfunction

It doesn’t happen often, but every once and while, there we go again.


Where I work in the contract town, we have three ambulances that all look pretty much the same. Box Type. Red stripe along the side. AMBULANCE written on it. We have four medics (but only one on at a time). Every six months or so, our ambulance assignments are switched. I’m moved from 80 to 92 or to 70. Sometimes I share an ambulance with another medic. Sometimes I have one to myself. We also have two sets of medic house bags. One black. One red. I share the red bag with another medic.

Every morning when I come in, I move into my ambulance, making certain all the gear gets changed over. Red bag, monitor, spare med kit, pedi box, EZ-IO, and narcs.

The other morning I come in and take the gear out of of 92 (the one that this morning has the black house bag in the back) and move it across the bay into the other ambulance — the one with the red bag in the back. Then I realize, wait a minute, I’m moving into 80 when I have just been reassigned to 70, which is sitting behind 80. I am about to move the ambulances around when a call comes in. Its a code (the nursing home code I had the other morning that I wrote about in Faces of Life and Death). The other medic hasn’t left yet so he comes along with me. Two medics is better than one.

When we get back, I move the ambulances around and get my stuff into 70. The EMT relief is already in, sitting watching TV. He asks how the ambulance is? I say everything’s fine.

A couple hours later we get a call. I start into the bay, but then realize my backpack is still in my car outside. In it are baby pictures of my daughter. When I was at the hospital one of the nurses asked to see them, and I said I had left them in my car, but would bring them if I came back, so I tell my partner to pull the ambulance out, and I’ll meet him out front.

I get my backpack. He pulls the ambulance out. I meet him out front and get in the ambulance. And off we go to the chest pain.

We arrive on scene. I go around to pull the stretcher out and there sitting on the stretcher is the black bag. Not good. No monitor. I look at the ambulance number 92, not 70. My gear, along with the narcs, is all in 70.


Well, it turns out the patient is a 20-year-old with I’m guessing pleuritic chest pain, but she is moaning and groaning up a storm like she is about to die and her mamma is very upset.

The call is in between the hospital and the ambulance quarters. No chance to make a quick stop on the way for a pickup. No one else is on duty.

We get her on the stretcher and head for the hospital, BLS style. An oxygen cannuala at 2 lpm. When I radio the hospital, I give my assessment, and add due to a malfunction, I haven’t been able to run a strip.

The first thing I do at the hospital is put her on their monitor and am relieved to see a normal sinus.

I call dispatch and tell them we are out of service until we can get back to the bay to fix our equipment problem.

Here are some similar episdoes from the past.

Paperwork? Paperwork?

The Stretcher


One of these days, its not going to work out so well.


  • Anonymous says:

    Happens to everybody. The other day I worked a shift that started way earlier than I was used to, and my brain was only half awake. While waiting for my partner I checked my truck all out. Partner didn’t show, so I had to bring the truck into the city to find a partner. When I went to leave, found no keys anywhere for that truck. So I took another one. I got half-way to the city before I woke up and realized I hadn’t actually checked the truck I was in. Pulled over into a parking lot and did it all there. Luckily, the last crew had left it in good shape!

  • Anonymous says:

    they really need to supply you with more than enough equipment to go around. thats just silly.

  • Anonymous says:

    I worked for a small rural service that had 3 ambulances, though each were distinct since they were on something of a rotational replacement schedule (generally meant that the third unit was ancient and only used for training or in emergencies since we could rarely get a off duty crew to man it anyway).But the interior configurations were mostly the same, and each had its own equipment, the only thing that was ever removed from them was the Narcs which had to be check out at the beginning of your shift (though generally this was done from medic to medic and the inventory was just check so it didn’t get removed anyway).I liked this system. it was a bit on the expensive side since it meant the service had to maintain 3 sets of montors and other equipment, but it was easy;Walk in, do a quick inventory, the 2nd crew would do their’s and the third ambulance. If there was a problem you could just jump in a different unit or, in one case, have one of the deputies bring you a ambulance that you hadn’t just dropped the transmission out of.

  • Rogue Medic says:

    Seems to be the things that you think you have already checked that cause the most problems.

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