The Cat that Didn't Move

The patient — a forty-year-old man — says his back is killing him. He has sciatica. He is on Oxycodone, but his vial is empty and his doctor won’t give him a refill. I look at the vial. It was filled six days ago. You should still have pills left, I say. “You won’t believe […]

Whispering Old Ladies, Kleenexes and Placebos

I had a patient a few days ago who I found very annoying. She was a woman in her late sixties with cold and flu symptoms. What was annoying to me was she refused to speak in anything but a whisper. I can’t hear you, I would say. But she would keep whispering. I asked […]

Men's Health: Does EMS Need to Call 911?

I am a big fan of Men’s Health magazine. I often read it in the ambulance. I also get emails from them almost every day with workout, diet and other fitness tips. Today I clicked on an article called How to Break Through a Rut: Reach the Next Level. A sidebar on the page happened […]

Damsels in Distress

I grew up reading books like King Arthur and His Knights. Thus when I was a young boy watching EmergencyI imagined a paramedic as a sort of knight errant rescuing people in distress. The job of a paramedic seemed like noble work with the added reward of being thanked by rescued damsels – whether the […]

My Death

I almost died today. As we approached the intersection I looked up and I saw my death coming at me. It was a large box truck. I quickly calculated that at its rate of speed eastbound on Park and at our rate of speed southbound on Broad, there was going to be collision. The box […]

You Don't Have to Put on Your Red Lights

The hot line rings. Two-thirty in the morning. The dispatcher says, 80 Dorchester. That’s all. Just the address. That’s all we need to know. Calvin. I don’t work the nights as much as the other guys, but I know Calvin. We take our time getting up. Take a leak. Walk out to the ambulance. Drive […]

Rusty

My preceptee got cut loose so I am back at work having to carry my own gear again. My rhythm is a little off, but I think I’ll get it back soon enough. Not much interesting so far – just the meat and potatoes of EMS in this town. 1) An old man with pneumonia […]

Ethical Question

Baby Medic just posted about doing three codes in two days. He includes this snippet: Thirty-nine years old, the family said, and they thought she was alive this morning but they couldn’t be sure. Someone thought they heard her get up and make coffee. “The lady deserves a chance at that age,” the doctor said […]

Precepting

Today is the last day my latest preceptee will be with me. Tomorrow he rides with our chief paramedic, who if all goes well will formally approve his being “cut loose” to be a paramedic on his own. My preceptee has been with me for nine weeks and has been, by all standards, “a shit […]

Billing

My paramedic preceptor told me many years ago, “You’re a paramedic, billing isn’t your job. A patient doesn’t want to be asked their social security number when they’re having a heart attack.” Consequently, I didn’t pay too much attention to the back of my run forms. Sometimes I’d turn them in with the backs blank […]

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