Sunday, July 12, 2009

Top 5 tips for surviving in an ambulance service

1. Be nice to everyone you work with. Someday they may be your boss even if they did start 10 years after you!!

2. Check your truck off properly. Yes its boring as hell but its actually surprising what you find. Last check I found 8 pairs of safety glasses (there was only supposed to be 2) and most of the supposedly sterile needles had torn packaging (something to do with people trying to jam 10 of them under the elastic tie in the IV kit)

3. Your patient report form is going to get sent back to you cause someone else is determined to find something on it that you missed out or didn't write an entire chapter about. Just accept this as a given and remember point one above.

4. Sometimes you are going to be called an ambulance driver. Does it really matter. Just smile and nod. After-all it is 50% of our job isn't it?

5. If you are going to leave a patient at home at least make them feel like they got their monies worth. Measuring their SpO2, HR, BP while nodding and saying uh huh lots is a good start.

6. Remember that what a patient tells you on the way to hospital and what they tell the triage nurse are often two different things. At some point in time this is going to make you look really stupid at the hospital. But don't worry everyone goes through it at least a dozen times.

7. Stay calm at all times, or at least look like you are calm even when secretly your thinking WTF is wrong with this person or you have come across a major incident. Refer to the second half of point 5 is a good start.

8. Patients are customers. What's your Customer Service like?

9. Take up a hobby, study or something you can fall back on when you are burnt out and need to take a break. Its gonna happen so be prepared.

10. If you are burnt out do everyone a favour and take 12 months leave. You will feel much better for it and so will everyone else.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Dont Jump Over Walls

So it was my second last night shift being mentored back into the job. The crew Im with are fantastic, accommodating, helpful and good fun to work with.

I manage to get 2 Priority 1 drives in and my confindence has fully returned. While its still fun to drive P1 the thrill doesnt seem to be there anymore.

The night starts busy and keeps going. Nothing too exciting, a PFO, help an invalid off the floor, someone who is unwell and decides to wait until 11pm to do something about it. Some things dont change. A dehydrated patient that I manage to cannulate. It was a blind IV too - could feel the vein but not see it. Success!! Still have the midas touch :)

We get stood down for a meal break at 11pm. Luckily I had some dinner before the shift started but my colleagues are starving. They wolf down their food.

29 minutes into the break another P1. A polynesian who Cant breaf. (SOB). Nothing too serious but we take her in. She declines my offer to rehydrate her via a 16g IV.

Safely dropped off to an already overflowing ED we head to central station to complete the break. No sooner had we pulled in when we get my last and most exciting job.

Two very inebriated young men had run across a petrol station forecourt to the back of the property and jumped over a concrete wall into what they thought was a bushy domain. They clearly didnt realise that the dark void they jumped into was in fact a shear 7m drop from the petrol station down to the overgrown section below.

The SERT jeep gets responded first, we are second to get called and another vehicle also gets responded. Im thinking thats a bit of overkill but the dispatchers decision to send so many units, as it turns out, was a great decision. We need all the hands we can get.

Access to the overgown bush clad section is via a narrow walkway beside a house next to the petrol station. Its dark, muddy, slippery, steep and awkward. We all grab a bit of kit and pick our way gently over the rugged terrain to the torchlight of the SERT guys who have located the patients in a clearing directly under the wall.

Both patients appear intoxicated which may have been their saving grace. They seem incredibly lucky not to have sustained any serious injuries. One has a ?#tib/fib, the other no obvious injuries but very drowsy. The SERT guy gets Fire Rescue on their way.

I go back up to the road to greet the first arriving fire engine and ask them for 2 stokes baskets. Its the easiest, safest and most effective way to get these guys out. The Fire pump SO gets on his radio - "make rescue tenders 2". The City appliances are busy so Avondale and Takapuna ET's are sent. In the end we get Avondales ET and the Parnells aerial appliance which also has a stokes basket.

The Fire guys rig up some lighting so we can actually see what we are dealing with. They also cut down a section of fence which gives us better access. 2 stokes baskets appear and a bunch of willing fireman. These guys are worth their weight in gold.

Collared, packaged, cannulated we scoop our patients up into the stokes baskets and the fireman carry them up to our ambulances. You guys rock.

We load them onto our stretchers while a TV camera looks on. Into the ambulance the camera steals a final zoom in on our patient as I close the doors.

We are only about 1km from the hospital. After a quick R40 we arrive at ED and trundle our patient into Resus. The other ambulance is only just ahead of us.

The job has gone very smoothly. No panic. No fuss. Everyone pitched in and did their thing. A real team effort. Thank god it was the last job though Im covered I perspiration, mud and vegetation.

We return to station, restock, clean up, debrief and I head home. Tired but on a high.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Back on the road

So its been 8 years since I worked in an ambulance. Im getting mentored back into the job and Im feeling a mixture of excitement and dread at the mere thought of going out on my first job.

Luckily I have an awesome crew to mentor me back into the flow of things.

Geared up and ready to go there was not even time to check the vehicle off before our first job comes down the pager.

Fear grips me. I was counting on the vehicle check to re-familiarise myself with where everything was in the vehicle. I dont even know how the new stretcher works.

I kindly decline the offer to take the first drive. It's night time and I didnt think it would be such a good idea for my first drive in the Merc in 8 years to be a priority one job.

Riding 3rd person up I climb in the back. The job is an R4 car v cyclist so on goes the reflector jerkin and gloves. Im asked if I want to do this job. I want to but again fear grips me...its been a while since I practised. I tell my mentor I will just shadow her for this job.

The patient thankfully only has minor injuries and we whisk her off to hospital. That wasn't so bad. My confidence is building. I reassure myself that it's just like old times.

We call clear and its another P1. My drive. Cool. Off we go. Shit how do you work the new light/siren controller? And how do I program the Navman? And where are the wiper controls? We have a laugh as they give me the low down while I'm pulling out of the ambulance bay.

The drive was actually enjoyable and we end up doing another 3 jobs in a row. All minor medicals. We laugh and joke our way through the shift. By the end I'm fully enjoying myself. It feels good to be back on the road. I just hope tomorrow night goes just as smoothly.