Older more experienced partner for the night: “21”
Dispatch: “Yeah I have a county run for you, intersection of Apple and Macomber, code 3”
Older more experienced partner for the night: “Allright, on our way down.”
More experienced partner looks at me with a goofy grin on his face. “Just so you know, it’s a car accident.”
I try (in vain I might add) to hide my excitement and not look like a total geek. Oooooh. Code three driving (lights and sirens)… A MVC. I stifle a little giggle as we run down several flights of stairs and out the door into the cool night air. Our squad is ready to go. I am SUCH a geek.
We climb in, and my partner drives. I’ve never driven the huge mod-style ambulance, and I’m not allowed to drive code three yet for insurance purposes.
I pat down the side of my pants, trauma scissors, pens, extra gloves in my pocket… I wonder what the scene will look like… I think about traction splints, ventilation rates… I start to panic when I realize I’m having a hard time remembering what is in what cabinet. What if I can’t find tape??? For God’s sake I’m a mother of two… I’m 30 years old!!!! SURELY I CAN HANDLE THIS!
Older More Experienced Partner senses that I’m starting to get a little nervous and simply says… “Relax. You’re not out there alone. You’ll do fine.”
We travel down one semi-busy road, slowing down at red lights to make sure everyone’s stopped. I can see the scene a few blocks ahead of us. My pulse is taching along at about 120.
I grab the radio.
EpiJunky: “21 to dispatch, we’re on scene”
Dispatch: “Got you on scene 21.”
A police officer waves us over as we pull up. Four ambulances, several cop cars, a few fire trucks… Red, white and blue light bathes the scene. Firefighters in turnout gear surround the car. It’s loud. They’re using the jaws. I can smell diesel and what I can only describe as burnt metal. My eyes are the size of half dollars.
My partner interrupts my near panic, “Oooh, it’s an extrication. Get some gloves… Let’s go.”
I step out of the squad and head toward the scene. I realize after three steps that I’m forgetting something important. My partner is behind the ambulance getting the cot, backboard, and towel rolls out. I curse at myself in my head for getting ahead of myself.
“Forget something?” Older more experienced partner asks, laughing.
I mumble an apology and make a mental note to never do that again.
As we’re approaching the scene a very tall firefighter meets us. He starts to talk, but I have a hard time understanding him over the sound of the jaws.
“The driver….Another ten minutes at least…fractures…” is all I can make out from the fireman.
My partner leans over, “Driver has bilateral open fractures to his lower legs, and it’s going to take another ten minutes to get him out.” I nod and watch the scene.
We’re the last ambulance on the scene at this point, the activity is winding down. The tall firefighter motions for us to come closer. With the jaws turned off and the car finally opened up I see our patient for the first time. A teenager, my nephew's age. Maybe 17 years old.
Tall firefighter leans closer and whispers “HIV, HEP C.” I nod and relay that information to my partner.
Once in the back of the ambulance I manage to calm my nerves down enough to take the patients blood pressure, listen to his lung sounds, take his pulse, check his pupils and just get a good look at him. Older more experienced partner is doing his assessment. “Do you have scissors on you?” My older partner asks. I hand him mine. “He does have bilateral open fractures. He has multiple abrasions and lacerations over a good portion of his body.” Once again I nod. Poor kid.
Our patient is getting pretty hysterical. He’s terrified, he wants his boyfriend. I’m trying to calm him down enough to get his phone number so we can contact his parents. I nearly jump out of my skin when someone starts banging on the back of the squad.
“LET ME IN!!! THAT’S MY BROTHER!!! LET ME IN NOW!!! HE’S GOT RIGHTS!!!” The voice is yelling. Older more experienced partner is sitting closer to the doors so he cracks the door open. I can’t understand much of the conversation between the two of them.
I look at the patient and ask him if he knows who the guy outside is.
“My boyfriend,” he mumbled quietly. He was starting to cry.
“Older Partner,” I say…. He looks at me. “Boyfriend” I say. Older partner looks at our patient… “You know he can’t come back here,” Partner starts…
Now our patient is sobbing. Partner goes out to deal with the upset boyfriend. I manage to learn from the patient that his boyfriend is 22, our patient is sixteen. He is in fact HIV positive and has Hep C as well. I do my best to explain to him that we have to take him to the ER, his mom will be meeting him there, don’t worry about the car, etc. He manages to calm down.
My partner, older and significantly more experienced (Have I mentioned that yet?) decided to take patient care (He’s an Intermediate), which was fine with me except for one thing. Two actually.
1) He wants a code 3 transport to the hospital and I can’t drive code 3,
2) I’ve NEVER driven a mod and have certainly never had to back one into an angled spot at St. Holy Hospital of the North End.
I quickly relayed my fears to my Older more experienced partner.
“You’ll do fine. It drives like a minivan. Stop at the intersections and when we get to the ER I’ll help you back in.”
He was right, I did just fine, and while I would say that this unit drove like a minivan, it really wasn’t bad. Thank god the ambulance bay was empty, I actually managed to back in with minimal direction from him.
I felt badly about my lack of driving ability and relayed this to my partner as he was writing up the run. He patted me on the back and congratulated me for the smooth ride.
As he finished up his paperwork I cleaned the squad out and reoriented myself with the location of certain things… I forgave myself for the inexperience in driving and promised myself that I’d ask my partner to help me practice parking at St. Holy Hospital.