White Cloud No More
So, after only 2 days on the ambulance, they’re already calling me “Black Cloud.” How the heck did that happen so fast?!
Well, from my perspective, I’ve been a white cloud for way too long and I think it’s about time something changed. (I mean seriously, I’ve done a total of 3 ambulance ride-alongs before even going to EMT school and only had ONE call per shift. My 2 clinical ride-alongs during EMT school weren’t terribly exciting either. Even at my other job in the psych hospital I have this uncanny ability to avoid codes.) But seriously, I didn’t expect my white cloud to turn black on my FIRST call on my FIRST day on the ambulance!
Here’s what happened: As I’m pulling into the station parking lot, I see the garage door going up and the ambulance pulling out. They pull up behind me and shout “Get in! We’re going on a call!” I grab my stuff as fast as I can and hop in the side door of the ambulance. Now I have no idea what kind of call we’re going to since I had just arrived for my first day and hadn’t been assigned my pager yet. We arrive on scene and the EMT-I leans in and solemnly tells me, “This probably won’t be a good thing.” And sure enough, we get inside and the family stated, “We just found him like this.” I’m thinking, Oh no…he’s dead.
Yes, indeed. My first call as an EMT was a full code! Not a very exciting one, mind you–I knew from the get-go that our efforts were futile. The guy had been down at least 20 minutes before we got there. It had probably been much longer than that, but since there was no rigor or lividity present and he was still warm, we had to run it as a code rather than a DOA. But it was asystole on the monitor from the beginning, so we delivered no shocks. Just CPR and some medications for about 20 minutes before medical control told us to stop.
I’m told I set a record. Most new EMTs have to wait weeks or months before they see their first code. I got mine before I was even technically on duty! Then we got a transfer from the local hospital to a specialized heart hospital in the city with a completely unstable patient. She was not ready to go when we got there (in fact, she was saying that she wanted to die) and it took an hour to get everything sorted out with her. I seriously thought she was going to code in the back of the ambulance in the middle of the freeway (thank god she didn’t because some doctor who was nowhere to be found had her chart with the DNR in it). Then, as 20:00 is rolling around and my shift coming to a close, a call comes in for chest pain. I decide to go even though it will add another hour or so to my shift that I won’t get paid for. (What? I couldn’t pass up a good chest pain!) It was one of those load-and-go situations—we got on scene and the gentleman was complaining his chest pain was 10 on a scale of 1-10—so it didn’t last very long, but I got to help with a 12-lead ECG and administer nitro. I really wish I knew what came of this guy. I can’t believe that I may have actually witnessed a heart attack in a 25-year old, but that’s certainly what it looked like…
So this former white cloud can certainly scratch a few items off her newbie EMT checklist after only one day. My second day wasn’t too bad either. We got a call for a woman who cut her foot after her domestic partner threw himself through the glass door in an angry rage, I spent some time in dispatch which was pretty interesting and informative, a call for an unresponsive resident in a nursing home, and when we were in the ER dropping that one off, another call came in for an elderly woman “not acting right.”
In my two days on the truck so far, I’ve gotten exposure to a good variety of calls, learned some new skills, and am learning to work well as a team with the wonderful medics and EMTs at this service. I may not be Mz. Erudite EMT Extraordinaire just yet, but I’m getting there. And if this whole black cloud thing keeps up, I may get there sooner than I would’ve thought!