Thursday, July 30, 2009

Why I should Never Let My EMT Cert Lapse

Years (something like 5-6) ago, when I first became an EMT my first call was a fatality. I just got my cert finished (yes, I passed my computer test, go me) so, just to keep things tragically symmetrical, so was my first call as a RE-certed EMT. At first when we were toned to a "male, unresponsive, no pulse" I assumed the bystander just didnt know how to take a pulse. Happens ALL the time, and if he was RIGHT, we'd be doing about 45 minutes of CPR. Instead, upon arrival, it was clear that there was nothing we could do. The patient had been crushed by the weight of his stupid toy, and was beyond help.
That was bad enough when I thought he was an adult. It got WAY worse when I was informed that he was only a kid, not even a teenager. Just HUGE. And then the police notified his mother, who was just down the hillside, in her house. And the day got MUCH worse from there.
I've never been to a death notification at somebody's house, only been there incidentally in the ER, and by the time people make it into the ER after being told "there's been an accident", they're sort of prepared for it to not be good. This woman was COMPLETELY blindsided by the fact that her son, whom she'd just seen an hour before, was not coming home again.

I'm really not good at the "comfort the parents" part. My way of dealing with other people's grief is to feed them. Not an option here, so i was a bit out of my depth. RIP kid. Motorized toys for children are SO not a good idea.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Cervical Spine Traction

So I'm still here! Long time no blog! Tuesday I spent in VT, checking out a hospital that I might want to apply to next year when i'm All Growed Up. I spent 6 hours following a TERRIFIC nurse around the ER. Only by "following around" i mean "hanging out in the trauma room" because his patient in there was pretty much a full time job in and of itself. Middle aged man, status post motorcycle ditching. Estimated blood alcohol was probably about .35. Yeah. POINT THREE FIVE.

For comparison, if I, a small-ish sized female were to have a BAC that high, I'd probably be comatose. This dude went DRIVING. Briefly. He managed to smash up quite a few ribs, lacerating both liver and spleen, but that wasn't his main problem. The MAIN problem was that he dislocated his C-spine. Oh, but he still had viable use of all 4 limbs, and no urinary retention. Lucky bastard.

So it was TRACTION TIME! 15 x-rays and 155 lbs of traction pulling from bolts screwed into his skull (which is one of the COOLEST things I've EVER seen) he could feel everything, which didnt make him happy. Also, his vocabulary consisted mostly of explatives aimed at those of us "punishing him" by not letting him move to get more comfortable. As the Orthopod said "sir, if you even NOD you'll never see your penis again. HOLD STILL."

By the end of the shift we packed this prize human being off to the OR for a spinal fusion, and said goodbye to the cops, the patient's last comment still ringing in my ears- "Do you think this violates my parole?"