Monday, November 7, 2011

What knife?

When I joined the fire service, there wasn't a whole lot I could do. I was too young to be interior or an EMT. When I started going on calls, my role was soon realized. I was an extra pair of hands, my job was to get whatever the EMT in charge needed. And it changed every call. Sometimes I would be sent to get our trauma bag, or our backboard. Sometimes I was sent out to wait for the ambulance, and show them where to go.

Over time, I started to spend more time in the house with the EMTs and the patient, as I started to get older and knew more. And I got a new role, one that is talked about a lot. But not always seen actually being done.

I was the extra pair of eyes. I paid attention to what was around us, and what was going on. And just watching to make sure we were safe. I started to notice things that others didn't, it started with small things. Like talking about how beautiful the cat was that had been there, and my partners would respond "What cat?" or "There was a cat?" And I would tell them about the cat. 

Then one time, we were at a call for a sick patient, general illness. Afterwards as we got in our truck I turned to my partners and asked "So, did you see the knife?" They both looked at me shocked asking me "What knife?" On the table that had been next to us the whole call, had been a large kitchen knife just sitting there in the open. I was the only one who saw it. Once I saw it early on in the call, I kept my eye on it and made sure no one went near it.

Since then, we have been on a few more calls where I found a knife laying there, and my partners never noticed them. Or other things laying around that could be dangerous to us, or could be hints to what was going on. Or a couple times, the other person who has been in the room but had been quiet.

Even now, I make it a habit when I go on scene to ALWAYS be looking around at the possible hazards. Even if it is a house we have been to 50 times with a patient that I have known my whole life, I still check for the knife that might be sitting there waiting for us. Always. No matter what is going on, I look around.

This is a role that is NEEDED on EVERY call. We always need someone to be watching out, and paying attention. Because if we don't have someone watching our back, and what is going on. We could get killed. The risk is too high to ignore this role.

So please everyone, pay attention. Find those knifes or guns that are just laying there, and point them out. Help your partners see the risks laying there, and make it a habit to always look around before doing anything else. Remember OUR safety comes first, and if it doesn't feel right, or you feel threatened. Leave. We are more important.

So, did you see the knife?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Don't ignore the girl.

There is one problem that is common, that I have had the whole time I have been in the fire service.

The men won't listen to me.

That is mainly due to the fact that I am a girl, and that I am young.

And you know what? It is frustrating. 

Back when I took Firefighter-1 in my county, we had 8 girls including me in the class. It was a big group. I was one of the youngest in the class. At first the guys thought I was just another girl, and that I wasn't serious about this. They would think "Oh how cute, a girl trying to be a firefighter". And it pissed me off, many times we were told to do something. I tried to tell the rest of my company what we needed to do, but they wouldn't listen to me at all cause they all had their own ideas. And we would get yelled at because we didn't do it right.

Then one night that changed. I got tired of it and not being heard, when I knew I was right. And I stood up, and made them listen to me. And I ended up proving I knew what I was doing and got their respect. By the end of the class, the guys in my company trusted me and my judgement. They would listen to me, and we all worked well as a team. We ended up being the best company in my class, because we had a clue and worked together.

After that class, the problem came back. As I trained with other people who didn't know me that well, and they always treated me like I was just a young girl who didn't have a clue. I will never forget the time I was told to "Get a man" to help lift a patient. I was pissed. Sure I am small, sure I am a girl. But you know what, that doesn't change anything really. I can still keep up with the guys.

Recently I took the Farmedic class, a great class that I would highly recommend to everyone. On our final day, we got to practice cutting "patients" out of farm equipment. Our patients you see, were old fire hose and tape. I was working with a group of young guys, all from the same fire department. At first I suggested an idea, and they wouldn't listen. They kept doing all these ideas, and weren't even letting me do anything hands on because they were all so involved. I kept suggesting it every once in a while when the latest plan had failed. At one point their chief and the instructor heard me suggest it, and told me to speak up. But still the guys didn't listen.

Finally, we had gone through 5 plans. And they finally listened to me. And guess which plan worked? Mine. It took us about 15-20 minutes to get our patient free, when it would have taken 5 minutes if they had listened to me.

Afterwards we were all standing together, and were talking about what we had learned. The instructor at one point just asked the class "So what did you learn today? Don't ignore the girl" And the guys all agreed.

And that was our lesson for the class. Don't ignore the girl. Because you know what, sometimes we do actually know what we are talking about and know more than you. Might be hard to believe, but it is true. So give the girls a chance, and listen to them when they suggest something, instead of blowing it off. Cause maybe sometime, they will save your ass.

Till next time, whenever that might be.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

How did I end up here?

How did this happen? I never thought I would end up here. As a EMT student in the fire service.

From a young age, I knew basic first aid. How to stop bleeding, and put on a band-aid on a small wound. If it was much worse, I would get help. But it would always freak me out, plus I had a problem where when I saw blood, I passed out. Simple as that.

As I grew older, things changed. I ended up with a job teaching kids, in a place where we always got injuries. I then decided to go ahead and actually take a first-aid class. Got through the class fine, but still would cringe at blood and avoid looking at it when I could. By this time, I also lived with my two EMTs and was learning a lot from them. But I wasn't having as much as a problem as blood as I used too.

That summer, I also helped out doing EMS at a local music festival, a weekend of handing out band-aids and telling people over and over, no we don't have painkillers, but you can buy them just down the street. And soon after that I joined the fire department and started going on calls. At first I avoided calls with blood, because it still freaked me out. Plus I didn't really like EMS back then, I wanted to do fire. I liked fire, and firefighting liked me. Which is a whole different story.

The next spring, my job required me to take a higher first-aid class through the American Red Cross, their "Responding to Emergency" class. It was boring since I knew it all already, but I didn't have to pay for it. My instructor for the class, was actually a EMT with the local paid department, who knew a lot of the same people that I knew. But I took it, two springs in a row of taking first-aid classes.

I did EMS again at the music festival, this time doing more then the year before, since I had more training and was just more comfortable with it. Actually helping clean out wounds that were covered in mud, and putting the band-aid on. But still avoiding the blood when I could, a few times feeling a little faint thanks to the blood.

Then I went back to work, and the second day back. I had a kid accidently cut his hand open with a knife. I was on break when it first happened, and walked into one of my co-workers taking care of it. Once he saw me he asked if I had a better first aid kit, cause he needed more supplies. I got mine got, a nice kit thanks to my family and got him gauze as he asked for it and helped wrap the wound up. We decided to call his parents to pick him up earlier, and I stayed with him as we waited. Keeping an eye on him to make sure he was okay, but he then started to act not normal, he wasn't as alert and just showing a couple signs of shock. I was nervous, but I stayed with him and didn't let him see that I was worried, as I just kept him talking. Finally his mom showed up and took him to urgent care. He was fine, just needed a couple stitches.

I spent that night going over all the mistakes I made that day, just to see what I didn't do and should have so that I could learn to do it, and learn from the mistakes. I moved on from it knowing that he was fine, and I did what I could.

A couple months later, we went on a call for a bloody nose. And we get there, and there is in fact a bloody nose bleeding all over. At first I was nervous, but there was only one other person on scene with me. So I had to help out. After the call we were returning to the station, and we look at each other and realize that I didn't have any problems with the blood. I was fine with looking at it, and didn't react. I was amazed and that is when I realized that maybe I could be a EMT and handle the blood just fine.

It got tested again this winter when we got a bad MVA, and once again no problems with the blood. Only one thing bothered me, the feeling of not being able to really help those people more. I had to stand back and watch as our EMTs hurried around to treat the patients, and all I could do was get them what they needed and stay out of the way. I knew after that day, I wanted to become an EMT so that I could help more.

A few weeks later I told my chief I wanted to take the EMT class. I got the permission, and signed up for the class that was starting in March. It was what I like to call, the insane class. Instead of it being a 2 semester college class like it normally is around here, It is all covered in 3 weeks of all day for 5 days, we get 2 weeks off between each week.

About a week before my class started, I went to EMSToday and met all the EMT and Paramedics there. Just being around them, made me excited for my class. And just a better feeling about the EMS world, since before I was only used to it in my area.

As my class got closer, I got more and more nervous about it. Scared that I would fail, and would be a awful EMT. But that all quickly changed.

From the first morning, I knew I was right in taking it. My instructors are great, my class is crazy. I am the youngest in the class, yet one of the top students. On the last day of my first week, I had to have a meeting with two of my instructors where they told me that I am doing really well, and am one of the best students. I was so happy. That first week was a struggle, as I got slammed with insane homework one night, as I started to have a mystery medical problem going on which we figured out, and just no time to study or relax. But I finished the week at the top, and I was proud of that.

My second week went better, as I finally had time to study and get my reading done. Learning more and more, and still doing well. Getting a 100 on at least one of my "Celebration of learning" that I had that week. And doing well on my skills, and really learning how to do an assessment. Our skill practice days were interesting, and full of learning. We had one instructor those days who was really good, and loved to make our medical assessments challenging and really make us think. I knew I was doing well that week, and other people were noticing that I was doing well, and knew it before I started the class.

Currently, I am in the middle of the break between my second week and my final week. For my class we have to do a minimum of 10 hours ride time on a ambulance. I am half nervous about it, and also excited about the chance to watch the ambulance crew and learn more. We shall see what happens on my shifts, I hope it goes well. I am doing my time in the next couple days.

But it is amazing how I went from never wanting to be a EMT, to being 2/3rds of the way through and loving it.

Well that is all for now, I actually wasn't really planning to post tonight. But here it is. Hopefully once things calm down from my class, I will post in here more. I keep thinking about it, and just never having the time or the right story to post. Hopefully I get some ideas and good stories to share.

Stay safe out there.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Beginning.

I just thought it was time I jumped on this band wagon, after spending the weekend with a bunch of EMS bloggers. And I realized, there is a lot to the EMS world that everyone sees differently and don't realize how different it is really. Heck, I see it a lot differently than most people.

But first, I think it is time to mention a bit about me and my role in this world.

I'm a volunteer firefighter in a small department in a small town, if you can even really call it a town. There isn't much here, but to me it is home. I have lived in this town my whole life, and know most of the people and have known them since I was little.

I first wanted to join the fire department when I was 13, but I wasn't old enough at the time. When I was 15 I got a chance to see what being a firefighter was all about for a week, and it changed my life. I knew at once that I belonged here. There was a feeling of it just connecting to me, and calling me to it. When I was 16 I finally joined my department, and started going on calls soon after I joined. Months after that I finally started my training, where I ended up spending 5 months straight doing fire training. I wasn't old enough yet to become an EMT, and at the time had no interest in becoming one.

That was only a year ago. Since then a lot has changed and I have decided to become an EMT, since most calls we go on are medical. And if I want to really help people, then the best way to do it is to become an EMT.

There is a lot more to this story, but this is the simple version. And over time it will continue on, as it becomes more complicated and we move on. I am only just starting this adventure, and who knows where it will take me.

As for the name...

I actually think that might be a story for another time.