King of the World

I work Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, 12-hour city shifts. I took the day off today (Tuesday) to go to the monthly regional EMS meetings for my clinical coordinator job that fall on the 2nd Tuesday of every month. I was excited for the meeting because we were going to be voting of our new spinal immobilization guideline to limit the use of long boackboards for certain patients, but the meetings were cancelled due to the storm we had this past weekend. Friday night we were hit with a blizzard that dumped anywhere from two to three and a half feet on towns in the area. The storm plus the nightmare of cleanup stressed enough of us with backlogged work and still messy road conditions that the meeting was put on hold.

I woke up Saturday morning to this site in my driveway:

Fortunately, I had a good helper with the shoveling.

Sunday and Monday at work were challenging as many of the streets in the city had yet to be plowed. We got as close to the call locations as possible and then either hiked in or had the patients meet us on street corners. The mother with the sick kid and the woman with the full body rash met us on the corners, the unresponsive hypoglycemic and the weakened dialysis patients who missed their scheduled appointments we had to go get.

Monday was complicated by people trying to drive to work and by a cold rain that turned the streets to slosh and ice. We dealt with more blocked streets, and cars that were stuck on ice with skidding wheels that we had to get out and help push out of the way. All day long, it seemed I was stepping out into snowbanks and doing crazy arm whirling balance dances when my own boots failed to grip the ice.

So a part of me was relieved that instead of dealing with more of the mess today, I was in my warm office at my computer, weating a comfortable sweater and reading run forms on the computer instead of doing the actual calls myself.

…instead of doing calls myself!

I do like my office job with the nice state benefits and great boss and chance to work on systems issues, but I also like doing calls myself. Really there’s nothing like it.

I found myself daydreaming, remembering the day before, how on one call to keep from blocking the road completely and leaving room for the arriving fire truck, I was wedged up against a giant snowbank. I squeezed out of the passenger door, and started climbing. I climbed to the very top of that snow bank. I was up higher than the ambulance roof, higher than the big fire truck. I was higher than everyone on the street. I could look all the way down the avenue, at all the life of the winter city digging out. I stood on the snowbank a moment, and pounded my chest like old King Kong. I was the King of the World! Then I climbed down to follow my paramedic preceptee and our EMT partner into the apartment house where on the third floor we took care of an old man with swollen legs, carried him down in a stair chair, and out through the snow and into our warm ambulance and transported him safely to the hospital.

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Peter Canning

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