June 21, 2013

The interview

Just some weeks ago i had the most interesting interview.

I was a tough crowd. A room filled with 10 year old´s. You may think that this went just nice and easy, well, i have some experience in crowd managment and some of my experience as a class teacher for emt´s helped me. But as their teacher told me when she contacted me for the first time: "They are not afraid of asking. Believe it or not they will ask you things that adults will never do." And that was just what happened.

At first i introduced myself and asked them if they knew what a paramedic does. Most of them told me they did, so i asked them what they knew and they told it quite straightforward. "A paramedic rides in the ambulance all day to help sick people." Thats it, right on kiddo. Later i told them that i have been doing this for 10 years almost now (uf, that went fast) and that the kind of ambulances i have worked in. As i tried to explain them the difference between certain concepts of the everyday job in the ambulance i just noticed that I was loosing their attention so I changed the strategy.

"Okay kids. I will answer all of your questions. So if you have any question feel free to raise your hand and I will do my best to fulfill your curiosity."

At first i tought they will ask me tons and tons of gory things but i couldn´t being more wrong. I think it´s just how the teacher warned me, they ask things adults don´t. I can´t even recall the number of times surrounded by friends that i have been asked. "Whats the bloodiest call you have ever had?", but kids are not like that. Much simplear and important things roam their mind.

Soon enough they started.

- "What do you feel when you help someone?"
"Well" - I stumbled - "You feel a great deal of satisfaction because someone is doing better by something you did. Most of the time I feel that i am useful to my people and that gives me a great feeling of achievement."

- "Do you consider yourself a hero?"
"No, i really don´t".
"Why not?" fast as a lightning a girl asked. "Hmmm, i am trained to do some things and those things make people get better most of the time. I help people just as you help your friend that has triped over a rock and fell just that i do it with people i don´t know."

-"Have you ever helped bad people?"
"Well, when they are injured or sick they are not "Bad people" they are just people that need help."

- "Do you get sad when you see someone suffering?"
This was the moment. I could show them an amazing picture of a man that just goes around in his ambo trying to save each life he crosses by, nerves of steel, hands of ice, trained to only help and always feel comfortable with the result. Instead of skin, that man has a great coat of teflon that will make everything just slip away.
"Yes, lots of times i feel sad because of the things that i see." Nah, forget the teflon.

-"Have you ever cried for something terrible you saw?"
"Yes, i have cried."

- "Have you ever took care of an injured kid?"
"Very few, but i have."

- "Have you ever seen someone die?"
"Yes i have seen people die."

-"What do you feel when you see someone die?"
"The seconds are always like minutes when you try and try to help them in order to prevent that. So, many times i felt like the time just froze and melted little by little. Then I realized they were gonne and i was very sad, because even if I didn´t knew them, I always did the greatest effort for them."

- "Have you ever seen a kid die?"
"Yes, I have".

- "Do you get frightened when you do your job?"
"Sometimes we go to dangerous places, or get into dangerous situations, but i always think that you have to be brave because someone needs us and we need to overcome that fear."
(If you are in EMS and are thinking, scene safety always, never never never never ever enter a scene that is not 100% safe, well if thats your tought let me get this fast and straight for you. If you have never been in a dangerous situation you are still too new in this job. Scenes change very fast, one moment is safe, next you are making a run for the door, sometimes are not 100% safe when you enter, you just weigh risk vs benefit and hope you took the right choice.)

- "What is the thing you are most afraid of."
"To get injured my job or that someone of my crew gets injured"

-"How do you overcome your fear?"
"Thinking that what i am doing might be life changing for someone. There is somebody that needs our help and we have to get there and help this person."

- "Have you ever crashed your amublance."
"Yes one time i crashed in the ambulance, it was not serious but i was very frightened."

- "Have you ever made a mistake while caring for someone?"
"Yes i have" "And what did you do after that?" a little boy asked. "I realized that i have made a mistake and i sat down and read why and how i could correct that so i will never do it again.

-"Have you ever saved someones life."
- "Mmmmm, no. I just help people. I think saving a life is something very complex done by the help of lots and lots of people. I just do my part and hope everyone does theirs."

April 3, 2013


A simple no could have changed everything. I was standing on the bed side, thinking, this is a bad decision. The doctors told us you had to be transfered to another hospital, but everything in myself told me not to, i knew it deep under, that kind of feeling that crawls up to your spine and stings in the back of your head and tells you its not a good choice. I don´t know why. Even today i ask myself why i did´t step up and told them it was a bad decission. I just let myself merge with the flow of medical problems you had and the lame excuse of the doctors to had you transferred. I remember clearly telling them one thing: "Our ventilator can´t support the pressure she has on the airway". - "It doesn´t matter". They told me, we will manage that with medication. 

That was the moment. Now, years later I realize that was the moment i should have said no. But you can´t change what has happened. I saw you slipping away. Fading, little by little. It was not a fast crash, it was a slow slope where you left this world one breath at the time. I tried with everything I had, but we were halfway from one hospital to another when everything started to go south. I can remember thinking: "She is going to die in front of me, there is nothing I can do".

And that was exactly what happened, you died. At the door of the other hospital your heart stopped and there was nothing anyone could do, you were gone. The doctors at the other hospital tried, they tried very hard but it was already a written situation. Years later i turn back to that moment and i realize. I made a mistake. I should have said no.

March 18, 2013

One cool story.

There he was, just a kid, 19 years old. He was just being discharged from the hospital. He told me on his way home he has been hit by a bus. -That will make quite a cool story to tell your grandkids-, i told him. -Yes, if something is going to hit you better be something big-, he laughed about it. He had a lacereted spleen, a broken pelvis, a bruised liver and a broken arm, he was one who made it.

He made me remember one patient i had once. It was a similar injury, a truck ran over him. We could get him to the hospital alive but his injuries were just too bad. And there i was sitting with one who made it, a kid, just like the one i cared for so many months ago. I was happy for this kid, i dind´t know why but it gave me back some confidence that things can go right sometimes.

Sometimes it´s dark but we just have to keep on trying.

October 24, 2011

No sleep.

Wehn you are a student here in my EMS system you learn some songs to sing while you run. One of those goes like:

"If in EMS you want to be you will have to get used to no sleep"

God how true is it. Its amazing the slow motion state that you enter after no sleeping for more than 24 hours straight, I have always tought that its dangerous to work under some circunstances and sleep deprivation is one of them. Think about the last time you worked at night shift and you were sleeping when you got a call. Remember everything about the call? Guess what you remember almost nothing because you were not paying attention and were not fully awake.

Be careful with that my fellow paramedics sleep deprivation could push you to make a bad call with a patient or even with your own security. Always be sure that before you exit the ambulance for the 4 a.m. call you are fully awake.

If you are not, you can ask for a couple of slaps from your partner.
That would solve it.