May 24, 2017

My First: Sometimes It’s Out Of Our Hands

I looked down at my admission slip and saw written "35-year-old male, high potassium, and low platelets.” Humm...okay. I already began to plan out in my mind all my interventions even before calling to get report. I'll never forget that report...even to this day, it seems like I can so clearly hear the sadness in the ER nurse's voice. The first words out of her mouth were "Oh man, this is a sad one.”
May 22, 2017

My First Smile: How I Choose To Comfort Amidst The Chaos

We learned slowly that the only power we had to comfort people in pain as they entered a complex system of care was the softest power at all: tenderness. There were no promises we could make, and people often lied to us to protect themselves. So we smiled.
May 19, 2017

Our Bodies Are Amazing: Witnessing The Power Of Medicine For The First Time

They gave her a heart shaped pillow that has the anatomy of the blood vessels and a heart on it. The surgeons signed the pillow with a sharpie and drew on the arteries that had been grafted. Her job is to hug this pillow when she moves, or when she coughs or sneezes. She wraps the pillow, we have the nurse, the PT, a respiratory therapist, another nurse and me, the newbie aide to use a slide board to move her to the chair. The PT reminds me to watch all the lines and go slow. I was on high alert and we slide her over.
May 17, 2017

Wrestling With Death

I went from feeling like the guardian angel, to feeling like the grim-reaper himself. I knew we were doing everything right. I knew we followed the protocols correctly. I knew we worked with good crews and good hospitals. What I didn't know, were the statistics.
May 4, 2017

My First Loss

I went to an EMT class over the summer between my first and second year. It was a great program, taught by a crusty old Paramedic with more horror stories than I had ever imagined. One day in particular I remember best. He came to the front of the class and showed us accidents that he had seen. Cars and bodies mangled and disfigured in ways I could never have imagined possible. Watching us cringe, he put down the remote to the slide show.
April 19, 2017

Service And Boundaries

I work in a rural hospital that is not a trauma center. Sure, traumas come in, but it is our job to stabilize patients and send them to a facility with trauma teams and surgeons. We call the cavalry, which is usually a helicopter, while we stabilize.
April 17, 2017

That Dreaded Question

Office jobs don’t get the “oo” and “ah” response that EMTs, medics, flight medics, flight nurses, and SWAT medics, etc., receive. It makes people think, and people have questions. They want to know about the horrible things, but not about the normal things. Have you ever noticed how sharing people are with terrible things?
April 14, 2017

Love In The Emergency Department

My favorite ER love story starts in triage. A long line of people waiting to be seen. Enter two middle-aged folks. Obviously homeless. Wearing clothes too large for them. And their skin is covered in pink and purple.
April 12, 2017

Pants Full Of Shrimp

I turn [...] and say, “Something isn’t right. I don’t feel right.” She agrees; “Yea me too. Is it a full moon or something?” You’ve probably felt “that feeling;” the pre-diarrhea, vague rumble in your gut that lets you know something suuuuuper uncomfortable is about to pop off. “That feeling” doesn’t always come, but when it does, it’s always right.
April 10, 2017

The Cemetery

Hang on for this gripping account of a difficult call and the thought-provoking finish as Michael peels back the veil of EMS to reveal an alternate universe of our cities and towns.
Sign In