Thursday, April 30, 2009

Media Frenzy = Mass Hysteria

Ok ... seriously.  Enough with the swine flu thing.  Even though most Americans can't spell it (top search on google = swine flue), most of us think we have it.  

However there may be a tiny bit of confusion related to how one contracts this illness.  Yes, you can get it if an ill person coughs or sneezes on you, and you do not wash your hands, and you stick your fingers in your mouth.  Yes, you can get it if an ill person uses a telephone and you come along behind them and use the same phone and then do things to help the little germies work their way inside your body.  Yes, you should probably avoid unnecessary travel to remote villages in Mexico where pig farming is a primary source of income and avoid contact with persons who have fever, chills, sweats, coughs, sneezing and so on.  (I also avoid contact with people who spontaneously burst into song, but that's just me.)

However, please, please do all my friends who work in ER's the world over a huge favor, and listen to this.  

If you have NO symptoms, and you feel fine, please do not walk into your local ER and demand a test for swine flu because you have recently had contact with your relatives who live in Mexico ... BY TELEPHONE.  

Seriously.  I know it's hard to believe.  But no ... you just can't get it that way.  For real.  I mean it.  Stop making those faces.  That's not how you get it.  Really.  Now take off the yellow mask and go home.

Monday, April 20, 2009

It's gonna be a wild one when ...

WSS says ...

When you and your new partner are tending to one patient, and two more wander over and decide that your current location is the new triage area, and PD says to you, "Ok, we have a group of people standing in a circle around your next patient so he doesn't get stepped on ANY MORE" ... it's about to get interesting.

I'll explain more later.  But suffice it to say ... it did get interesting.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Great White North

Once upon a time, which was actually yesterday, I had a strange patient. A nice little Asian lady, who practically ran when she saw me. Which made me a little confused.

We were called, with lights and sirens, to an intersection in the really ghetto area just north of one of our stations for....wait for it....a nosebleed. So I flipped on the flashy-flashy's and started heading in that direction. While we drove, I reminded my very new partner about how to best deal with epistaxis. And we mused about why we'd been called to an intersection rather than a specific address. But much more bizarre things have happened in the ghetto of the Great White North. I was also secretly keeping my eyes open for any sign of an assault since face punching can cause nose bleeding.

So we roll up and stroll over to the city bus when a woman with a bloody nose standing at the door. No one mentioned a bus, but I'm flexible.

"So, happened here ma'am?" I ask as I look at the mostly dried blood on her hands and upper lip.

"I just want to go home. Please, I live right around the block. My daughters waiting for me, please." says a very anxious Asian lady in her 40's.

"Well, my partners gonna take a quick look at your nose and help get you cleaned up. Is that alright?"

I go over to talk to the bus driver. She says the woman was sleeping, woke up with the nosebleed, asked her frantically to call 911 and then tried to leave once we were on the way. Only hearing the sirens in the distance made her decide to wait an extra minute for us to arrive. Apparently the woman was a semi-regular on the route, but never acted strangely before.

The nice lady, who's name I never managed to get, was adamant the needed to leave. So I ran though a very quick mental status check. Since she was alert and oriented, I asked her to wait a moment while I got a refusal form. But this 2 minute and 37 second encounter was already taking way too long for her and she started speed-walking down the street.

New Partner had to run down the street just to get her to sign the refusal form. All we managed to determine was the nosebleed was non-traumatic, she had a history of hypertension,she didn't take her meds today, she needed to go to her daughters house and she was oriented appropriately. Her English was fine, so I don't think it was a communication problem, but her anxiety level had been though the roof as soon as we rolled up. The bus driver and I exchanged unit numbers for each others reports and we drove around the corner to go write up the report.

I still don't know the patients name or why she was so intent on leaving. My best guess is that the anxiety and hypertension combined with the lack of meds caused her nosebleed. And that she realized there was some time-sensitive reason that she needed to be at her daughters house right away. Maybe she was supposed to watch one of the daughters small people (children).

But New Partner learned how to write up refusals and we got to go back to the station and wait for the next call.

Just another day in paradise.

(Great White North)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

From the top ...

WSS says ...
(That's Warm Sunny South, as opposed to GWN or Great White North)

I thought I'd get the ball rolling by just mentioning a few things I've learned in my very brief career in EMS thus far.  In no particular order, I have learned.

  • If you are 15 and weigh 90 pounds you should not drink so much.  Or at all.
  • Texting while driving is a really bad idea.  Cars roll over and if you're LUCKY your cell phone gets destroyed.  If you're not so lucky other things get kinda broken.
  • Rearranging furniture that is much heavier than you are ... at 3AM ... bad idea.
  • If you stop and think "yanno, I should move my hand before I cut open this box" ... move your hand.  You'll thank me.
  • Whether you're 30 days old or 89 years and 11 months old it is in your best interest for the people in the ER to do what they need to do to make you better.  It would be good if your parents or caretakers understood that.
  • Jumping out of moving cars is a bad idea.  Young or old, sober or intoxicated ... for kicks or for some reason you seriously can't remember ... it's not going to end well.
  • The people in the ambulance and the ER are going to do everything in their power to make you better.  However they will WANT to do it more if you're nice to them.
  • No matter how much you are convinced that you live on a military installation, if you do not have proper ID and authorization to enter, the powers that be are not going to appreciate your multiple attempts to enter.
  • Sometimes bad things happen to good people.  It sucks.
  • Sumdood* is alive and well the world over.
  • Polite goes a long way, no matter which direction its coming from.
  • We cannot choose our genetics, but we can make a LOT of choices regarding our health.  Making good choices does not guarantee perpetual good health, but making bad choices WILL catch up to you one day.  Don't act so surprised when it does.  All of those health studies include you too.
  • Everyone should learn CPR.  Everyone.  Everywhere.
  • You should wash your hands more often.  Seriously.  Yes, you.  I mean it.  With soap.  Often.
  • Golf Carts can be dangerous.
  • "Pull to the right for sirens and lights" applies to you.  I don't care if you're driving a (insert important person's car here).  LET US THROUGH, GENIUS BOY, NEXT TIME IT MIGHT BE YOUR DUMB A** WE'RE TRYING TO SAVE.
  • Older people are still people.  They've seen a lot.  They're worth listening to.  You might learn something, hotshot.
  • And finally ... I've learned ... that I have a LOT to learn.

* Credit for identifying the phenomenon known as "Sumdood" goes to Ambulance Driver.