Let me tell you what it’s like to be an EMT.
The night before my shift I usually open my fridge to look for any leftovers I could pack in one of those plastic container that you keep forever because they last forever. You know, those Tupperware things that are the most hideous color ever (mostly because I got them from my mom and she bought them in one of those awful meetings back in the 70’s). So then it takes me 2 min to try to open the thing because of course these containers are earthquake proof and they won’t open even if you throw them violently on the tiles (like I did after my 2 minutes battle). So then I give up with the plastic container and decide to fill a Ziploc plastic bag with the leftover spaghetti with tomato sauce from last night. Yuk! Gross, it looks kind of weird and cool at the same time in the bag, and it is definitely interesting to the touch. It reminds me of some other thing I will see on my shift, but let’s not jump ahead. Let’s pack a mini muffin with chocolate chip for breakfast and a minute soup for dinner. That is not enough food, so I will also bring a mini bag of dried nuts and mixed fruits, and also 2 mandarins and a granola bar. Yes that should do it. So now my backpack is full of food from lunch to dinner, cool! Let’s go to bed.
6am, the alarm tells me to get the hell out of bed, and that… is not cool. I get my stupid uniform on (dark blue pants, dark blue polo shirt with letters on the side of my chest that say “Cecile B. - EMT”. But it doesn’t matter that my f&%#ing name is written right there because everyone, from patients to nurses and doctors today are going to butcher my name trying to pronounce it like it’s out of another planet and then ask me again the ultimate question: “oh where are you from?”…… Ahhhhhhhhh…….. Not that question again!!!
So here, I am ready to rock and roll like they say here, I have my uniform on, I look clean, I have a backpack full of food and let’s not forget I have another huge bag with a pillow, sheet and blanket because I am going for a 24 hour shift and I will sleep on a wonderful bed at the station.
At the home station we get our ambulance from the team that is finishing their shift and are now going back home. I am teamed with someone I usually don’t know because I am still new and I am not at the same station every time. On our way out we stop the ambulance by our cars to transfer our bag full of food and the one with the blanket, pillow…
Let’s go to the station now.
As we arrive there, I decide to make my bed right away. I haven’t even pulled the pillow out of my bag, that our radio is calling us for our first call of the day. Oh!! This is going to be one of those days huh?
Here we go, my partner jumps on the driver side, which means that I will be taking care of the patient. We arrive at the location of the incident to find a lady in her mid 30s who says she wants to kill herself because she is depressed and wants to go to the hospital to be evaluated, she took lots of medication and alcohol and she does not smell good. Ok lady! Jump in the ambulance! As I take her blood pressure (while my partner is driving us to the hospital), I see my patient slowly trying to do her reading of the day on the left side of my shirt. (Great she is reading my name!) And the lady says, “Is it Cecilia?” And I say, “No, it is Cecile. It is French.” (There I said it, she won’t ask). Then she says with her drunken attitude “Oh cool, so you speak Spanish, huh”. Then I look at her with my eyes wide open and say, “No, I speak French”. To what she asks “ah? So where are you from?”
And when she said “from” I could smell her breath full of alcohol and medication… Baaaah, I should wear a breathing mask, it is not human to smell that way.
So after what I said: “so, you said you want to kill yourself today, huh?”
And there I opened the door, because she started to talk and talk and talk about things that didn’t even made sense and I could smell her breath more and more as it was filling and replacing the oxygen in the whole ambulance. She talked about everything and nothing, as a drunk depressed crazy person would. But then she says to me, “You know, Cecilia, you are a good doctor, because you listen very well”.
(Pfff, I’m not a doctor.) But I smiled and said, “ oh you are welcome my dear, and that is why I am here…. Oh look! Here we are at the hospital let’s get out of the ambulance and get some fresh air……”
Ahhhhh! Fresh air.
And that is when she decided to throw up everywhere on the stairs of the ambulance…
(Lady! You didn’t have lots of medications; you just ate a lot of spaghetti with tomato sauce and drank 2 bottles of vodka to make it go down!!!)
Oh, what a disaster, it suspiciously looked like she could have eaten the lunch I had packed for me.
Well, of course we dropped her off to the ER, then got back to clean the mess she made. At least now someone else is dealing with her and not me. I am just glad she didn’t throw up on me.
Then as we are leaving the hospital, we get called to another patient and then another one and another one. After 8 calls in a row it is now 8 pm and I am dizzy because we didn’t have time to eat. We finally get a break but we are so hungry, we just decide to get a hamburger quickly.
As we later arrive at the station, I am looking at my unmade bed and I pull the food I had prepared for me from my bag. The bag of spaghetti makes me want to vomit, so I toss it right away and I am so tired now, I just lie down on the naked mattress there and fall asleep (it is 9pm).
Suddenly the crazy high pitch beeping of the radio screams in our ears (I probably slept 3 hours but I still feel really tired). I look at the clock and see: 9:15pm. …What??... I only closed my eyes for 15 minutes? You gotta be kidding me!! But here we go again on another call. And it will be like that until 7am. I slept 1 or 2 hours all together. It is the morning and we had more crazy stinky patients and a few nice old ladies with a broken hip. And that one homeless guy without his front teeth that told me that I was pretty, and that we could make a great couple and that he could clean up real good for me. (At least he didn’t ask me where I was from). I just gave him a nice smile in return and it was enough for him. (But that was only to keep me from busting out laughing).
I get home around 7:30am. I shower and I fall into my nice clean beautiful bed. What a day!
To tell you the truth it is not like that every time but sometime it is. And next time I won't even try to prepare my meals in advance because half of the time the Ziploc bag (which is not earthquake proof like Tupperware) tear apart in my bag pack and I don't even want to describe what I see and smell there, and I should just buy a good sleeping bag because that is faster.