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A Day in the Life of a Paramedic

Apr 08, 2010

As the paramedic arrives at the ambulance company where he works he wonders what kind of shift he will have. The last several days he has been at work, he and his partner, an experienced emergency medical technician, had been very busy. Several bad car accidents, a couple patients with chest pain, and having to transfer a few very sick patients from the local community hospital to the medical center over an hour away during their last shift together had left the paramedic exhausted.

He and his partner worked well together, though, and the work usually went quickly. The last patient they had seen together, an elderly lady in congestive heart failure, had recognized their good working relationship and had even commented as they dropped her off at the emergency room that she didn't think she could have gotten any better or more efficient care. Working with a great partner made these difficult twelve-hour shifts a little easier.

His partner was already in the back of the ambulance adding extra supplies and taking inventory of the medications. An hour went by and the two of them washed the ambulance and waited for a call. Just when he was beginning to think it might be an easy shift, the ambulance radio went off with the voice of the dispatcher calling out the location of a four-car accident. The paramedic and the EMT got in the ambulance and buckled their seat belts. Several minutes later they reach the scene of the crash and are the second ambulance there. Other emergency vehicles had also responded: two fire trucks and a police car so far. Several of the accident victims were out walking around near the accident and several were still in their vehicles.

"Over here!" yelled the paramedic from the first ambulance who was over by what was left of a small blue car. Inside the driver's airbag had deployed, perhaps saving her life. The car was so damaged that she could not easily get out of the car. She had what appeared to be a large gaping cut on her forehead and no seatbelt on. The paramedic was calmly talking to the patient who was in and out of consciousness while a fireman worked feverishly to cut the frame of the car. When the driver was able to be extracted, the two paramedics worked as a team to quickly assess the patient and get her onto a backboard to transport her to the emergency room. They applied a cervical collar to her neck and also put an IV site in her left arm. She appeared to be more awake now, but very scared. The emergency medical technician began asking her questions regarding her medical history and also her name, age, and allergies. By now other crews were on the scene, assessing the severity of the only other critically injured patient, a man in a white minivan.

The patient stated that she was having a lot of pain in her left leg. Quickly the paramedics worked to assess her from her head to her feet and applied a splint to her left leg in the area she was having pain. They also assessed her level of consciousness and her vital signs. By now they were in the ambulance, moving quickly to the hospital’s emergency room. The emergency medical technician calls to report in to the emergency room to let the nurses and doctor know to be expecting them and about the patient’s injuries. Moments later they are out of the ambulance, dropping the patient off, and filling out all their paperwork.

"Great job, partner," says the EMT to the paramedic. But before he can say anything else, their portable radio goes off. The dispatcher calls out their number again, this time a call to a local long-term care facility. One of the residents there is having chest pain.

"Uh-oh," says the paramedic, "Looks like it's going to be one of those days!" They get back in the ambulance and head off down the road.

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