This morning at physio I was giggling with the ladies in the front about how Drew and I met, and that led to stories about college and practicum. Then while PG was doing some really really back woods physio on me that I am sure he saw on YouTube the night before, I was reminiscing about my very first day of my very first job as an EMT so many years ago....
I had been hired by a horrible company to work up in Northern Alberta for my first job as an EMT. The day I started I still had not yet gotten my drivers license to drive an ambulance (I had a license, just not my class 4 yet). I told my employer that my appointment for my drivers test was not until the following week, to which they replied, We don t care. We need you to start today. Just make your partner drive and you attend all calls. (Which meant I was in the back with all patience.)
And so my shift began.
I don t remember my partner's name, I just remember he was a nice guy-- funny and very outgoing. He was tall, and I felt very comfortable with him.
The crews did our own dispatching which meant we answered our own emergency calls. So at about 11pm we got our first call for a guy who needs to go to the hospital . It was common that little information would be given; we would just be told where to go, and to get there fast.
We got into the rig and drove off to pick up this guy, with full lights and sirens. One of the many problems with this location of Northern Alberta was that cell phone reception was horrible and we were isolated. The next closest crew was 1 hour away from us. We did tell them where we were going, but once we would get to a certain bridge they could not contact us.
We arrived at the house of the sick man. The stars were unreal-- so bright and clear, thousands of them. I had never seen the northern lights like that in my life, truly God's country. We were greeted by a few dogs checking us out, and the others were doing a good job on some dead animals in the front yard. We went up to the house and there was an axe in the front door. Hmmm. I've seen different types of door art before, many different door knockers too. I had seen a lot while I was a missionary. Birds, dogs, cats... but nothing had ever grabbed my attention quite like that before.
We walked in and there were three people in the home who all clearly had been drinking copious amounts and for a very long time. A bigger guy sitting on a chair said hi when we came in, but other than that he was very quiet. A woman, short with long hair, was pointing and very concerned for the guy on the couch. And rightfully so: He was passed out and his nose was completely cut off, hanging by two little pieces of tissue at the sides. I could not believe my eyes. I walked up closer and put my gloves on. My partner did the same.
We got up to the guy and said turning to the woman, What happened?
The woman simply said, He fell.
We tried to wake the guy up. My partner called to the man, as I stared almost hypnotised up his nasal cavity. Every part of the cartilage was cut off, and I could see his skull/nose area.
All that kept running through my head was that this guy was going to get an infection, that he had to get up and get to the rig. My partner started yelling a lot louder.
I began to question the woman. So he fell?
He fell on what?
We were dancing, and he fell.
I am outside now on the deck with the door still open looking around to try and find blood...
The other guy comes up to me and the woman, he is HUGE, giant-like. I bet he was 6' 6 240lbs and it became clear right away that he was very simple-- slow of speech and very kind. He asked if he could help me.
I ask him, what happened?
She answers again, He fell.
The big guy looked confused at the woman, That' s not what happened. You hit him with a bottle.
Ooh wonderful. I started to get a little creped out. I looked over at my partner. He was yelling at the noseless guy and grinding his knuckles into his chest to wake him. (By the way, that is very painful and in a normal situation would cause someone to sit up and swear.)
The guy stirred a bit and after a few rubs from my partner sat up.
I kept asking the woman, Sooo, what did you hit him with? I just need to know so I can tell the doctor.
She stuck to her story. He fell.
The big guy was very confused, No! You were over there and you hit him with a bottle.
I looked over again at the progress my partner was making. The guy had laid down again and my partner was tugging on the nose to cause enough pain to wake the guy. I felt a bit grossed out and totally amazed at the same time.
Finally, the guy woke up.
The woman said, You gotta go to the hospital.
He was having none of that. NO.
She argued back You are going.
I don t want to go.
This continued for a few minutes as we all walked to the ambulance, with all of us trying to convince this guy how important it is because HIS NOSE IS BARELY ATTACHED TO HIS FACE!!!
Finally she says, Well, if I gotta go to the hospital would you go then?
And with that, she walks to the house.
Now, please keep in mind, I had just interviewed her for almost thirty whole minutes. I know without any question she was okay when she left us outside and walked into the house.
I did not think anything about her going to the house because really, why would I?
A few minutes later she came out with a towel around her hand, walked up to the group of us who were still trying to convince this guy to go to the hospital and said, Will you go now? She opened up the towel and (I swear this is a true story) had cut her thumb COMPLETELY OFF!
I was in total shock, my partner as well. What on earth do you say to that?
In stunned amazement I started at her with my mouth gaping open.
Crazy thing was, no one seemed surprised but us.
The nose guy said, Okay, get in.
All three got in and I am looking at my partner with terror in my eyes, Please don' t put me back there. She just cut off her thumb. If she can do that, she could kill me with a fart. He assured me I was driving, which was not much better, because I had never driven an ambulance.
I was white knuckle-driving the entire hour because every once in a while the passengers in the back decided they wanted out and they opened the back doors and tried to jump. I would be informed of their attempts by a sudden and terrifying shriek from my partner, JOELLE, SLOW DOWN!! To which I slammed on the brakes, forcing everyone to the front of the ambulance and my partner would close the doors again. I prayed a lot that night.
My partner began doing the YMCA dance to distract them and thankfully it worked.
We get about forty minutes away from the hospital and the cell phone in the rig rang. I answered.
Hey, it' s us, [the other crew that works for this company].
What do you need?
We just got a call for a guy who was hit by a car and you are going to come up on him before we get there. Can you stop and take care of him till we arrive?
What the heck. Why not?
Soon I came up to a huge group of people on the road surrounding something/someone on this back woods road.
I will go check it out.
Hurry, the YMCA is not working well anymore.
I got out, my heart pounding, and I was sure everyone could hear it.
The circle opened and in the center is a man, laying on the ground, with a blanket on him.
A rather large car, maybe a Crown Victoria, green, was there too and obviously, the car that hit him because the lights are a bit roughed up.
People are yelling at me, Help him!
He was laying prone but trying to stand up. I asked him his name and what happened while I leaned over to take the blanket off.
I took a step back and gasped. I had never seen anything quite like this in school or on my practicum. This guy was complete MUSH from the knees down. AND HE WAS TRYING TO STAND UP.
Sir, stay laying down please.
I gotta get going.
Nope, nope you don t, lay down please.
Listen B#%*H, I gotta get up.
Sir, your legs are broken," (Understatement.) "They look more like a smoothie. You can t get up, please lay down.
I looked over at my rig at the people still doing the YMCA. Crap! I was all by myself with this one.
Please lay down, sir, while we wait for the other ambulance.
My begging was no good.
I had some people around me wanting to help, some asking questions, but most were just yelling at me to help him. One lady who, from her odour, had clearly been drinking too, started asking me questions.
Do ya think his legs are busted?
Well, we will have to do x-rays to be sure, but I think it s a safe bet. See how his knee lifts up when he tries to stand, and see how the rest of his leg is flat and not moving, and how his feet are turned and laying flat on the ground, too, in the opposite way then they normally would be? Those are some good signs there is a break or two.
But he' ll get x-rays to make sure, right?
Ya, we'll make sure. I' d hate for there to be a misdiagnoses
I heard the sirens coming. THANK GOODNESS!!
Unable to do much because if I left this guy would keep trying to stand, I just sat there with my finger on his forehead holding him down while the other crew assessed him and packaged him up. Once they had him in their rig, I got back into mine and we all drove to the hospital. A little frazzled but day one done!
That was the first of so many crazy days there, man I loved that job!