Totally Crackers About Their Self-Importance

, , , , , , | Healthy | March 13, 2018

(I work in an emergency room. It’s late morning when a well-dressed woman of late middle-age registers. She states that she was just in a serious accident and must be seen immediately. Although we know that we hear about serious in-town accidents right away, sometimes a serious accident does occur in the country and the victims may be brought in by private vehicle. They usually have on outdoor-appropriate clothing rather than clean high heels, but we still hustle the patient back quickly. Once in a bed, she relates that the “serious accident” occurred hours ago, in town, at a speed she calls “much less than 20 miles per hour.” She has driven here in the car involved. She gets an exam and a neck x-ray. Then, she complains:)

Patient: “This is taking too long. I am diabetic and haven’t eaten breakfast. You have to feed me.”

(It’s about 11:30 am.)

Me: “What have you been doing since the accident?”

Patient: “I went to see a lawyer first, then came straight to the hospital.”

Me: *sighs* “We’ll get you some crackers and peanut butter.”

Patient: “No, I’m in the mood for an egg salad sandwich.”

Me: *finally had enough* “This is not a restaurant, and we don’t have egg salad sandwiches lying around to give out!”

(She got her crackers and peanut butter.)

An Alarming Lack Of Alarming

, , , , , , | Working | March 13, 2018

(My mother and I are staying at a hotel. It’s around three am and I am woken by an alarm in the room. It sounds like a clock alarm. It’s not my phone, so I go over to my mother’s bed and look for her phone.)

Mum: *wakes to me trying to locate her phone in the dark* “Wha… What’s that noise?”

Me: “I think it’s a phone alarm. Is it yours?”

Mum: “I don’t use the alarm. What is it? Turn it off; it’s annoying.”

(She rolls back over to go to sleep. I unplug the hotel alarm clock, but the noise continues. I move towards the window and I hear another sound coming from outside, this one sounds like a fire alarm a little way off. Opening our door, I notice a fire door has closed across the hallway.)

Me: “S***! Mum, get up! It’s a fire alarm!”

(We head out into the hall to find [Friend #1] standing there, looking dazed. Other friends are still in their room. We knock on one of their doors, and they answer right away.)

Friend #2: “Hey, what’s up? Hey, [Friend #3], the noise is out here, too. What’s going on?”

Me: “It’s a fire alarm.”

Friend #2: “What? We thought it was an alarm clock. We’ve been searching the room trying to find it for the last five minutes.”

(Another group of friends had slept through it and only woke to our banging on their door. We made it down the fire escape. Thankfully, it was a false alarm — some kids had set off a fire extinguisher on another floor — but it would have been nice to have something more defined as a fire alarm, rather than something that sounded like an annoying alarm clock. I wonder how many people wouldn’t have made it out of that hotel if there really had been a fire.)

Trying To Seize Some Sympathy

, , , , , | Healthy | March 11, 2018

(I am in high school, and I come home to one of my two dogs having had a severe stroke. I hold her the entire way to the vet and stay at the office while they put her down. My remaining dog is my favorite dog of all time. One day, around five am, I go downstairs to find him having a seizure. I can’t drive, my parents are at work an hour away, and no vet offices are open around me. I am panicking so badly that I decide to call 911.)

Operator: “You have reached a 911 operator. What is your emergency?”

Me: *through panic and tears* “My dog is having a seizure and I don’t know what to do!”

Operator: “You will have to dial a vet. This is for emergencies.”

Me: “There are no vets open around me! Please tell me what I should do. Is there anywhere I can call? Anyone who can help me?”

Operator: “Look. You need to calm down and just call a vet. This is an emergency service.”

(I ended up hanging up and repeatedly calling my parents until one of them answered. Eventually an adult arrived and comforted my dog for the three hours until a vet opened. My dog died that day. People still joke about me calling 911 over a dog having a seizure.)

On The Need For Hazard Pay, Part 15

, , , , , , | Healthy | March 10, 2018

(I am a brand new EMT; I’ve had my license less than six months. I am working for a non-emergency transport service that specializes in psych patients. I go to a hospital to pick up a patient going to a mental health facility for a court-mandated 72-hour hold. The nurse advises me that the patient tried to overdose on some pills after a family crisis, but has been calm and cooperative since being in the ER. My partner and I introduce ourselves to the patient, get her on the stretcher, and load her into the ambulance. I begin to assess her.)

Me: “Do you have any pain anywhere?”

Patient: “Yeah, my stomach is hurting from my cycle. Can you give me anything for that?”

Me: “No, ma’am. I’m sorry, but I cannot give medications.” *pain medication is not within my scope of practice*

(I finish my assessment and start on my patient care report. All the while, the patient continues to complain about her pain. I advise her that I will tell the receiving facility about it as soon as we get there so the doctor can give her something, but in the meantime I get a heat pack out of the cabinet and give it to her with a towel. At about the halfway point of a two-hour trip, the patient announces that she has to use the restroom.)

Patient: “I have real bad diarrhea and I need to go now.”

Me: “Well, I don’t have a bedpan, and we cannot stop, so I need you to hold it.”

Patient: “I can’t hold it.”

Me: *to partner* “Hey, we are in [Town], right? I need you to divert to [Hospital] so I can take her into the ER. She needs to use the bathroom.”

Partner: “Can’t she hold it?”

Me: “She said no, and I would rather not have to deal with the smell.”

Partner: “Okay.”

(We get another five minutes down the road and the patient manages to slip out of all restraints and stands up.)

Me: “Ma’am, I need you to sit on the stretcher and put your seatbelts back on. If we were to get in a wreck or if my partner made a sharp turn you could be hurt.”

Patient: “I can’t hold it anymore. I’m going to s*** my pants.” *begins to undo her pants*

Me: *to partner* “Hey, pull over. She is off of the stretcher and she is about to s*** on the floor.”

Partner: “What?! Put a sheet down first.”

(As I put a sheet down I plead with the patient to reconsider, to no avail. The patient proceeds to force herself to defecate, urinate, and menstruate on the sheet. She does not have diarrhea and definitely could have held it. After the patient finishes, she uses her clothes to wipe herself and sits back down, half-naked, on my stretcher. I cover her with a sheet, re-secure her belts, turn on the exhaust fan, and try not to breath any more than absolutely necessary.)

Me: *to partner* “Hey, I need you to get there fast; I can’t take this.”

(For the next thirty minutes, the patient sits silently on the stretcher. When she realizes her previous attempt for pain meds was unsuccessful, she decides to up the ante.)

Patient: “My stomach is still hurting so bad. Can you please give something now?”

Me: “No. Like I said before, I can’t give pain medications.”

(The patient goes on a rant for several minutes before becoming silent again. Just when I think we might get to the destination without further excitement, the patient puts her fingers in her mouth and causes herself to vomit all over the floor.)

Me: “Seriously? What makes you think this is helping your cause?”

Patient: “Why don’t you just give me something for pain?”

Me: “I am an EMT basic. I can assess you, take vitals, and do CPR. Only a paramedic can give pain medications, and they still would not give you any, because menstrual cramps don’t qualify for narcotics use.”

(The patient continues to complain, but we have no further trouble until we get to the mental health facility. The patient tries to beat up the orderly after they tell her she will have to be seen by the doctor before she can get anything for pain. As we are decontaminating the truck, my partner looks at me.)

Partner: “I have been in EMS for 12 years, and I have to say, that was a first.”

Related:
On The Need For Hazard Pay, Part 14
On The Need For Hazard Pay, Part 13
On The Need For Hazard Pay, Part 12

Not Even Pepper Spray Keeps The Customers Away

, , , , , , | Right | March 5, 2018

(We have an attempted robbery and assault in the store where, thankfully, only bear mace is used as a weapon. Because it is summer time, the central air conditioning is running, and the spray is starting to circulate throughout the entire store. Due to the nature of the incident, we have numerous police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances show up within minutes and block off the parking lot for a couple hours. Media outlets are even on scene, taking photos and shooting video. Police cars are blocking both parking lot entrances, and police tape is put up around the store entrance. We’re all standing outside in the fresh air, trying to get the remnants of pepper spray out of our eyes, and just killing time until the police and fire department give us an update on whether we should stay or simply go home for the day. Most of our regular customers are understanding that they can’t come shop or pick up copy centre orders. However, it boggles my mind that the following conversation happens more than a few times, almost always verbatim:)

Customer: *usually busy texting or just generally ignoring all the pretty, flashing lights and walking under the police tape, only to be stymied by the sliding doors that won’t slide* “Why won’t the door open?”

Us: *looking around at everything going around us* “Uh… sir/ma’am, due to the store being a current crime scene, we aren’t allowed inside the building.”

Customer: “But I just need an item/to pick up an order. I’ll just be a minute!”

Us: “The police aren’t letting store employees into the building until they finish up. And even when they do, we still have to wait for the fire department to give us the all-clear. There’s pepper spray circulating through the HVAC right now, and anyone going inside is required to wear a face mask and breather.”

Customer: “I don’t understand. I’ll just be a minute! I don’t see why you won’t let me in!”

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