By Michael Morse
It’s Good to be Immortal
Eventually, all good things must come to an end. My separation from the fire department was made a lot less painful because of my brilliant methods of training the people under my command to be exactly like me. I will forever have minions of Mini-Me’s running EMS and fire calls in Providence, all of them doing exactly what I trained them to do. They, in turn, will train their people in my image.
Here’s a Glimpse of My Methodology
I’m training my current partner to do my job. His six-month tour as rescue chauffeur is nearly through. He needs to know how to be in charge. I make it look easy, cagey veteran that I am. I’m looking forward to the challenge of passing on my vast store of knowledge to the next generation. Deep down, I’m also looking forward to having Brian realize just how fabulous, heroic, and competent I am, all while making advanced life support look easy.
“Rescue 1, Respond to 653 Hawthorn Street for a 64-year-old male experiencing chest pains.”
Brian looks at me. I look back with the typical rescue chauffeur blank stare and head to the driver’s seat, looking forward to seeing my partner sweat. He’ll find out. Ha!
“Rescue 1, on scene,” says Brian, doing my job. I prepare to do the monkey work, all while keeping a close eye on my protégé.
The patient had been putting up a fence. He was diaphoretic, hypertensive, and complaining of chest pain radiating down his left arm. I was prepared to take over; saving lives is no job for the inexperienced.
“I need a 12 lead, an IV, start him on 02, get the aspirin and nitro ready,” said my student.
I did the mundane tasks while the once and future king established a history. I wanted to chime in, but he left no chance. The EKG showed acute MI with ST elevation, aka STEMI. I have no idea what they called a STEMI for the prior 100 years, but STEMI gets quite a reaction from the folks at the hospital.
“Drive.” said Brian.
Drive. So, that’s the way it’s going to be. I drove.
Forty minutes after dispatch, our patient was in the cath lab and will make a full recovery. Big deal, I could have done that. Brian finished up the paperwork, gave the report to the team that had assembled, and did a damn fine job. I did his job–stocked the truck, replaced the linens on the stretcher, cleaned up, and got ready for the next one. Easy.
It didn’t take long.
A Painful Lesson
“Rescue 1, respond to 433 Broad Street for an unresponsive male on the sidewalk.”
I expertly drove to the scene, showing my student how the truck should be driven, and stopped next to an intoxicated man lying on the street in front of McDonald’s. One of our engine companies was there. We send an engine for unconscious people; they get there faster, usually.
One of the firefighters opened the rear door of the ambulance to retrieve the stretcher while Brian assessed the patient and I got ready to show him how to do things right.
“Where’s the stretcher?” asked the firefighter.
Part of being a cagey veteran is quick thinking.
“A good officer would have known the stretcher was still at the ER,” I informed my student.
He’s got a long way to go. I took my radio away from him and things returned to normal.
Michael Morse is a former captain with the Providence (RI) Fire Department (PFD), an author, and a popular columnist. He served on PFD’s Engine Co. 2., Engine Co. 9, and Ladder Co. 4 for 10 years prior to becoming an EMT-C on Rescue Co 1 and Captain of Rescue Co. 5.