So it's been a while

I know, I know. Bad Kate. What have I been doing? Where have I been? Did you miss me?

I have been doing this:

Yes, folks. I'm a paramedic working for a private ambulance company. I turned in my mommy uniform for an EMS uniform. Well, I'm still a mom and I still wear that uniform as well, but now I get to do this, too. And...I'm happy. I have wanted to be a paramedic since I was 8 years old. I don't know why, or if any one thing really triggered this desire. I really wanted to go into healthcare as a child and when I reached 15 that all seemed to go up in flames. I was told that I couldn't be in healthcare because of my neutropenia and I gave up. For a long time I just went with the idea that it wasn't going to happen. But then I sat down with my sister...

And it went something like this:
Sis: So, just go take the class.
Me: Yea, but what if I can't do it?
Sis: You're being stupid. You've had this disorder for how long? You know how your body works. You know what makes you sick. You know how to be careful. And besides, what's wrong with taking a class? You take it and if you never use it, oh well! It's another thing you learned. Take it one day at a time. 
Me: Well. Uhm. Okay. Why not?

And I did. I took the first class and I loved it. It felt like it was what I was supposed to be doing. So I kept going. I got a job working as an EMT basic and then they offered to send me to school for paramedic. What the difference? A paramedic does all the stuff a basic does but gets to poke people with needles is really the biggest difference.

I'm really happy with where I am in my career and in my life. My family has made HUGE sacrifices and adjustments but I feel like I can make them proud of me now. And I feel like I'm a better mom because I'm a happier person. It seems to fit, finally. I know it sounds corny and sappy but, hey, that's where I'm at.

So, have I seen traumatic things? Have I watched people die? Yes, I have. But, I'm not here to give people the gory details. Firstly, I work for a private ambulance company so we don't see a lot of trauma like gun shots and vehicular accidents. I see things like elderly stroke or fall that ends in a femur fracture; or people who are REALLY sick who need to go to a higher level of care. Second, I haven't been in the business very long so my "Holy crap!" stories are few. And thirdly, I don't really like having to relive the ones that were especially awful. I like to do my job and move on. Do I think about my patients after I have transferred care? Yes, I do. But I try not to let them really stick with me in a bad way. I try to remember things from calls and patients that I can learn from and help improve my patient care. But I do have some rules for you folks that I would like for you to try to abide by.

1. Taking an ambulance to the emergency department DOES NOT guarantee you will be seen faster. If you called me because you broke your toe and want to go to the emergency room you WILL be put in triage and will wait as long as you would have if you had just taken a taxi or asked a friend to take you. The only difference is now you have a several thousand dollar ambulance bill to pay for as well.

2. Unless you are actively dying I'm not turning on the lights and siren. We don't go "wee-woo" unless it's something that really, REALLY demands it. Riding with the lights and siren on is actually dangerous as most folks on the road see my lights and freak out: run lights, stop in the middle of the road, follow too closely behind, etc.

3. It's going to be bumpy. Riding in the back of an ambulance, ANY ambulance, sucks: it's bumpy, it's cramped, I'm doing things you probably don't like that involve needles and wires and blood pressure cuffs, and there can be a lot of noise.

4. Calling us "ambulance drivers" tends to piss a lot of us off. Me, I don't really care any more. But some EMS providers get really touchy about that. If you're unsure what to call us, just call us EMTs in the US. We're all Emergency Medical Technicians of some sort.

Maybe some day after I've worked years and years and I'm old and burnt out I'll write a book about all my wacky adventures. But for now I think I'll just go have a beer and watch MST3K.