April 29, 2010

Dial 911 For EMT

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Welcome to Cornell Diaries, where we print the anonymous recorded lives of Cornell students. While The Sun maintains the confidentiality of each writer, all facts have been verified and all diaries record the truth.

Friday, April 23rd

01:03: Getting ready for bed on EMS shift, hoping that when I take my contacts out and lay my head on my pillow, the dispatcher won’t blast the dispatch tones over our radios and send us out on a call.

01:07: “DEEEEE  …  DOOOOO, EMS-1, 2418, 462 respond to West Ave., near Baker flagpole for a male who is unresponsive.”

01:08: After checking that the full three-person crew is awake and in the truck, we head out to the call. With the lights and sirens blaring, I drive while the other crew members begin filling out paperwork and mentally preparing themselves for yet another call.

01:10: “EMS-1 is on scene.” Check the patient for consciousness. Ensure he is breathing and isn’t bleeding while maintaining spinal stabilization. Try to check for any possible life-threatening injuries or conditions. I update an incoming ambulance on the patient’s status, then have a crew member place oxygen on the patient, take a blood pressure and get as much information from the friend about what happened.

01:22: The ambulance arrives on scene, and the paramedic walks over: “We have an unresponsive college-age male, with a history of diabetes. Patient’s friend states that he has had eight shots of hard alcohol this evening and his blood sugar dropped. Patient lost consciousness 20 minutes ago and hit his head on the ground. Patient is fully immobilized to a backboard; B.P. of 108 over 72, pulse 64, resp 12, blood glucose 44, pupils equal and reactive.” I respond, indicating that we’ll take the patient to Cayuga Medical Center.

01:24: Assist the paramedic in moving the patient to the stretcher and into the ambulance.

01:30: Arrive back at our office. Call Cornell dispatch for times from the call — when we were dispatched, en route, on scene and in service. The rest of the crew restocks the truck and bags for the next call. Then we begin completing the pre-hospital care report (PCR) and we log the call. Each crew member gets their bunks ready with sheets and blankets, hoping that this time we can get into bed and fall asleep in our office.

01:54: Bedtime … FINALLY! (Until the next call.)

Saturday, April 24th

08:57: “DEEEEE … DOOOOO, EMS-1, 2418, 438 respond to Statler Hall for a 43-year-old male who is having difficulty breathing.” I respond, “10-4, EMS-1 is enroute to Statler.” We try to wake ourselves up as we head for the truck,  all the while realizing that the tones beat the alarm clock by three minutes.

09:13: After evaluating the patient, he decides to refuse transport to the hospital and say he will get checked out at Gannet. We cancel the ambulance, get the bags back in the truck and call back in service. I then realize the time and begin crew change, so I can shower and run to my 10:10 a.m. class back in the Statler.

09:55: Finish crew change, get off shift. Shower, change and pack my backpack  for class. Time to begin the trek up to the Statler from Collegetown.

10:02: While crossing the Engineering Quad, I notice that the person I’m about to cross paths with is staring at me. I realize I treated her last week and I try to get by with as little awkwardness as possibe; at the last second she gives me an ashamed look as she realizes I was the EMT who responded after she went out partying and started to vomit.

10:08: When I arrive at class I remember that I have a PCR to finish.

11:01: One class down, none to go!!! I think about how much I love my second semester senior class schedule … until I realize I’m back on shift after lunch.

11:15: I head to Mac’s for lunch and meet up with other EMTs for what I hope will not be another EMS-related meal. (Who am I kidding?!)

11:55: Change into uniform (like Superman in the bathroom). Head out to the Statler drive circle and wait to be picked up for the 12 p.m. shift.

12:08: After getting in the truck, dropping off the old crew and getting the current crew situated, we head back to the office to watch some TV shows and enjoy the approaching weekend.

13:30: Show is over; time to work.  I create an Event Action Plan for the upcoming weekend events and ensure that the second flycar is ready for service on Saturday morning.

14:45: After getting some work done, the other two crew members get ready for shift change. (I’m still working for another 4 hours.)

15:10: Crew is all switched out and ready to get to work. We spend the next hour training a new member by going over splinting and taking vital signs.

16:00: After completing the new member checklist, we all head down to Cornell dispatch to see how our friends behind the microphones are doing. The dispatcher explains to the newbie how the computer radio, CAD (computer aided dispatch) and phone system work — and right then the phone rings. After a few seconds later, we head out to the truck and get ready to go.

16:01: “DEEEEE … DOOOOO, EMS-1, 2418, 462 respond to Jessup Fields for an 18-year-old female with a dislocated shoulder.”

16:02: While heading to North, I prep the crew for the upcoming call by discussing which bag to bring and how we will treat the patient. I also talk with the new member to make sure she feels comfortable with what could potentially happen in the next 20 minutes.

16:05: I arrive to find a female intramural softball player who states that she has been in immense pain since she felt her shoulder pop as she was diving for a fly ball. We start the routine over again, ensuring that we do everything we can for the pain and keep the patient as comfortable as possible until she can be transported to the hospital so a doctor can put her shoulder back in place.

16:25: Now that the patient is in the ambulance, we head now back to the office to continue the routine of restocking, logging the call and starting the patient report.

17:30: Truck is packed, paperwork is done, office is clean. The crew chief-in-training takes the newbie out to the truck to go over all the equipment. I make a bed in the office and take a quick nap before we switch crews.

18:40: Time to wake up, pack up my stuff and get ready to go home after a long 24 hours of EMS-filled fun.

19:05: I finally get home, change out of my uniform and put on Scrubs. After 16 hours of shifts and three calls, I relax with the knowledge that my next shift isn’t until Sunday evening.

22:00: After resting up, cleaning my room and eating dinner, I get ready to go out and meet some friends. Although I spend my days as an EMT, on nights and weekends I can still be a normal college student.

Want to share your diary? Send us an excerpt of your day, week or month at daze-editor@cornellsun.com.  RLD