For Naomi.

(Slight edit: Apparently I posted the wrong draft. Some slight changes towards the end, my apologies)

This post is a contribution, although late, once again, to Normal Sinus Rhythm. A collaborative writing project by EMS bloggers all over the country. Please visit them if you get a chance!

"This might be the best taco I've ever had." Marine Corp Medic crams the remains of said taco down his gullet. I'm not even sure he chewed it. He inhaled it.

God he's hot.

I picked up a shift working with a Medic for 24 hours. It's a welcomed change from working at the Closet, and while I adore Pseudo Dad, the snoring is a bit much sometimes. Last shift I contemplated suffocating him with one of those plastic covered hospital pillows. If the lack of oxygen doesn't do him in, maybe one of the diseases on the pillow will.

A girl needs her sleep ya know.

"So, Marine Corp, tell me. What exactly is that contraption you have strapped to your belt?" It looks like the Galls catalog vomited on him. It looks like a pair of trauma sheers/seatbelt cutter/window punch/scalpel/maglight/corkscrew/vanity mirror/hunting rifle. It's deliciously wankerish, yet fantastic at the same time.

He hands it to me so I can play with it. "It's beautiful," I start, fighting back the giggles.

Marine Corp Medic is not amused with my ribbing. He mumbles something about it being lucky and issued to him by the Corp.

"No, no, I understand." I snort out loud before losing it completely. "If I ever need to open a bottle of wine and perform surgery in the dark I'll know who to call."

"Epi, give it back."

"Can't I just hold it awhile longer?"

"No, you can't. Give it." His hand is outstretched palm up. I stick my bottom lip out and give him the mammoth five pound Galls Special back.

Marine Corp Medic and I have just stopped at one of Toledo's best kept secrets. El Camino. The BEST Mexican food I've ever had. My Medic Partner approves.

We're sitting in the parking lot looking out as the traffic flies down Sylvania Ave. It's the first meal we've had so far after back to back to back 911 runs. It's already 4:30 in the afternoon.

My partner has finished his third and last taco around the same time I start my second. I offer him my last taco as there's no way I'll be able to finish it.

"Girl you need to learn to eat faster or you're going to waste away to nothing working this job."

"Fat chance of that happening." Just as I take a bite of my delicious bit of ground beef, chilies, cheese and sour cream I see something odd out of the corner of my eye. It flies past too quickly for me to process it.

"JESUS FUCKING CHRIST DID YOU SEE THAT?" Marine Corp Partner is yelling for me to call dispatch and he disappears before I can even realize what has happened. I scan the street in front of me trying to put together what happened.

There's a 1990-ish Oldsmobile on it's roof, not forty feet away from the truck.

I key up the Mic mouth full of taco. "Uhm, Unit 2 to dispatch."
"Unit 2, go ahead."

"We're at Sylvania and Douglas, We just witnessed a MVC, one car on it's roof, contact Toledo's Finest for us and send another unit"
"We're clear Unit 2. TC, Fire and police are being notified."

"EPI!!! AIRWAY BAG!" Marine Corp is yelling from the street. I look up to see where he is and that's when I notice the second car.

Oh... Shit.

I jump out of the truck with the portable radio and run to the back where the airway bag is. I pick up the heavy blue bag and the Narc bag next to it. I pull a backboard out and move as fast as I can towards the first car, the one on it's roof.

The snow is coming down. There's close to two inches on the ground already.

"Epi, do you know where the intubation kit is? Hand me the BVM."

I've never been so happy in my life that I did the rig check that morning.

I pull the BVM out and tear the plastic bag it's in. I put it together and hand it to MCP.

"Uhm, MCP, seven or 7.5? What blade do you want?" I pause long enough to see a 70 year old woman hanging upside down. Blood cakes her face. She's not breathing. Groceries are everywhere in the car. A head of lettuce, cans of baked beans, a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk are scattered everywhere. It hits me, we're going to have to get her out.

"Epi? Answer the damn radio before I throw it across the street."

"Unit 2, come in, Unit 2...."

"Oh... Uhm, Unit 2 here. We have one patient, two cars involved." I look up at the other car, the driver is talking on his cell phone excitedly and watching us work. "The driver of the second car looks okay, I would still send that second unit though."

"We're clear 2. Fire and police should be there shortly."

MCP is holding C-Spine. "Let's get her out, she's not trapped. I can't tube her at this angle and the car isn't stable."

I pull the board towards us and ask him where he wants me. He has me take C-spine while he retrieves that deliciously tacky tool off of his belt that I had been laughing at not five minutes prior. He cuts through her belt and supports her body as she starts to fall from the seat she's in.

In seconds she's on our backboard. MCP is tearing open a tube when I notice her chest rise.

"MCP?" I watch her take another breath, then another.

"MCP???" I repeat, tapping his arm.

"What?" He says attaching the syringe to the tube.

"She's breathing, MCP. Looks like 12 or 16... Color's improving."

MCP watches her chest for a second then looks at her face. "Well shit. Go Grandma." He cranks the O2 up to 15 liters and puts a NRB on her.

"Do you want me to go check the other driver?" I ask as I dust the snow off of me.

"What other driver?"

I motion towards the pimped out Neon with heavy front end damage across three lanes of traffic.

"Jesus I didn't even see that car. Go check the driver, if you need me, yell."

The driver is still yammering loudly on his cell phone, I can hear him from across the street.

"Sir?" I start as I approach him. A shiver runs through me. I'm soaked to the bone. "Sir, are you okay?"

"Eric, duuuude, you need to come get mee. Pleeeease dude." The smell of the alcohol coming off of his breath is so strong that I have to take a step back. "Whoa."

"Go take care of that stupid bitch. THAT STUPID BITCH THAT CUT ME OFF!!!" Douchebag patient screams into the phone. "Duuude. PLEASE." Douchebag patient is begging to whatever poor bastard he's trying to convince to come pick his sorry ass up. He keeps looking around nervously as cop cars are showing up.

MCP is standing by the first patients car watching everything unravel. I look back at him and he's starting to walk towards us. Another crew has arrived and are loading up the first patient.

"Sir, you need to hang up the phone." I stammer. Douchebag patient is dialing another number. Completely ignoring me.

Shit. He's not listening to me. Why am I so nervous. Why won't he listen to me? I'm going to look like a complete moron. Dude, put down the phone, just let me take a look at you and shut the fuck up. Please. I'm begging. Okay, time to pull up your big girl panties and take control of the situation.

"SIR." I yell this time. I use my Mommy-is-pissed tone-of-voice. "Hang up the fucking phone. NOW." I can feel my heart racing, but enough is God damned enough.

"I'm fine..." He continues to dial.

"You're bleeding from your forehead and you're drunk. Now hang up the damn phone before I call the cops over."

"Everything okay over here?" MCP walks up behind me.

Douchebag patient is 5'10" and a buck fifty soaking wet. I'm three inches taller and a bit heavier. Marine Corp is 6'5" and 250 pounds of muscle with a vein that bulges out of his forehead when he's pissed.

And He IS pissed. "He giving you a problem?"

Dipshit, er, I mean Douchebag patient's eyes are the size of half dollars. Marine Corp Partner is rather intimidating.

I look at Douchebag with renewed courage. "Just hang up the damn cell phone and let me take a look at you. Please. Unless you'd be more comfortable with my partner." The street lights are on, the snow is falling, I'm chilled to the bone. What I'm assuming is broken glass or asphalt has ripped a hole in my pants, melting snow is running down my leg into my socks.

Translation: I'm balls ass cold.

The Douche in the end submitted to a stellar BLS assessment by yours truly. He ended up boarded and collared but okay. Seven stitches to his forehead. And a pair of shiny handcuffs.

Patient #1 made a complete and full recovery. She went from a bloody blue upside down old lady to a very grateful patient who still sends me emails from time to time. Apparently she had been feeling ill most of the day. She didn't remember heading out to the grocery store in the snow. Turns out she had a massive MI. Per the local STEMI protocol she headed to the nearest ER with a Cath Lab. I met up with her two days later during a shift with Pseudo Dad. Her family was fantastic.

One more reason why I love my job.

I was a newer EMT then, I was easily intimidated. I'm proud to say I've grown a bit since then. I still like working with the guys, and I miss Marine Corp and Pseudo Dad, but I don't need them to feel secure as a female EMT. I don't feel like I have to be protected from a patient because I'm a woman.

It took a little old lady and a drunk asshole to begin to teach me that.


Evil Lunch Lady said...

Very cool story! I'm amazed you didn't smack that stupid guy( drunk driver). Glad the LOL was ok:) About MCP.....any pics?? Muhahahaha!

Gertrude said...

Good to know you found your voice. It's difficult sometimes for women in this field to do that. And evil is right. I'm sure there are many of us who would like to see pics of MCP. haha

david mcmahon said...

You are such a wonderful writer!

Epijunky said...

First of all... :) Ladies, I don't have one picture of Marine Corp. My phone back then didn't have a camera. I haven't seen him in awhile, I'm not even sure if he's still working in EMS.

Evil lunch lady: You have no idea how hard it was to not attack him my trauma sheers.

Gertrude: Thank you so much for your kind words... Now, if I could just tone that voice down a little while maintaining some authority I'd be all set.

David: You flatter me. Thank you so much, coming from you it's a huge compliment.

Merisi said...

What a story, and beautiful writing!
Thank you for sharing it, and thanks also to David , who sent me here.

Cheffie-Mom said...

Wow, you are a great writer. I found your blog on David's blog. I will be back. Thanks for sharing!

Louise said...

Great story! Came from Authorblog. Very glad I did! I was on the edge of my seat.