Sunday, August 29, 2010


"Why did you become an EMT?"

"To save lives."

John, my mentor-of-the-day, looked me over, clearly exasperated.

"Wrong answer, kid. That's what every newbie rabbles off when they get in here. I'll ask you again. Why did you become an EMT?"

"I didn't have anywhere else to go as far as my life went and the only thing I knew I could do half-way decent was help people."

"That's a pathetic reason but an honest one. You're what we call a lifer. Take that however you want."

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Rookie

 August 18th, 2010

"So tell me, the three of you, what brought you to us? What is your experience in EMS?". My supervisor looked over us with a beaming smile. I liked him. Genuine. Actually liked to engage people and hear the stories behind other lives besides his own. My fellow new recruit, The Dinosaur, responded first. "I originally was a maintenance guy until 1990. In 1990, I realized EMS was a growing field and I got involved. Back then, the money wasn't as involved as it is now. I knew it would change and it did. I've been a certified EMT since 1990 and got my EMT-I 2 years ago. I'm now enrolled in a Paramedic program."

The Dinosaur had a certain smugness about him that I didn't quite care for. I mean, yes, it's something to be proud of, without a doubt but the way he presented himself about his profession was... off. The kind of guy that had to have all these patches on his EMS jacket (hell, including his CEVO), that had about a million bumper stickers on the back of his truck (with lights, of course with lights... a siren too undoubtedly), and used unnecessarily big words whenever possible (and while I do this in satire, I never do it seriously) in normal conversation. And of course, this guy was an instructor as well.

My supervisor then turned his attention to another recruit, who I named in my head, Lurch. Lurch was about my age... but about 6'2 and I'd say roughly 300+ pounds. With that said though, Lurch is a nice kid. Kind of a goob, but knows his stuff without coming off sounding like an ass or too cocky. "I've been in EMS, as a Basic, for a year and a half now, working with my town FD. I've worked with a couple of youth programs in my area as well." "Hmm. Cool. Despite your ginormous size, you're alright, kid" were my thoughts.

And then, my supervisor looked at me with a glint in his eye. "Well... I took my EMT-B class last September, finished up this February... and this will be my first EMT job. I've never even been on a moving ambulance besides being a patient numerous times." The Dinosaur and Lurch looked down at the table at me, stunned. "I'm a student and while I'm in EMS for a profession, I forever will be a student. I came here to learn and to understand how to do things right."

August 19th, 2010

"Alright kid. The first thing you need to understand is that when you drive the chair van, you're alone and you will have to take this job from time to time when no one else can, if we're on vacation. You don't have a partner and you're not going to have a police escort all the time for psych patients. Pay attention because when I show you how to strap their chairs in, is how you need to do it every time. Otherwise, you're not going to have a smooth ride."  This is my mentor for the day, Miguel. Miguel has been running a chair van for 5 years. He tells me upfront that the reason why he works the chair van is because he doesn't like partners and generally, doesn't like people. I'm hesitant but after saying that, he's very kind to me.

Patient transfers go smoothly. One of them can easily tell I'm the new guy and starts making snarky comments to Miguel, who apparently is a regular patient of his. He smiles and I can tell he feels bad, mouthing "I'm sorry" from behind her. I smile and shake my head and then smile back at the patient. "Whatchu smiling at, white boy? Ain't nuttin here to smile about". "Sorry ma'am. It's just a gorgeous day out, huh?" "Yea, it's alright." I shut up and she begins chuckling. We take her to her street... which is a street that I had only seen in movies, help her out up a flight of stairs, and take our leave. "I'd recommend that you don't come down here, in this neighborhood, alone unless you absolutely have to. Even I try and steer clear as often as I can." Miguel says.

More patient transfers. We end up somewhere closer to home and while waiting on a patient that's at their appointment, we stop into a family-ran convenience store and have a lunch of whoopie pies and orange juice. We talk a bit and take our patient back to her facility. Everything went smoothly and finally, report into base a half hour after 5. 

August 20th, 2010

My nickname, as cliche as it is, has clearly become "The Rookie" amongst my peers/co-workers. I'm ok with this. It reminds me of something out of  a buddy-cop movie, which, if spent enough time thinking about, I chuckle at.

I'm with my supervisor and the other two new recruits. We're stopping for lunch at Subway... in our newly fitted uniforms. I'm not dumb enough to get a Meatball... Give me some credit.

Well, I should've ordered no sauce at all cause instead, a big splash of chipotle southwest ends up directly on the front. We get back to base and I'm awkwardly folding my arms to try and cover it up.

"Jesus, rookie, is that blood on your uniform on your third day?"
"Um, no, that's chipotle southwest sauce"
"Always say it's blood"


Monday, August 16, 2010

You are a beautiful and unique snowflake

5:45am - I wake up, forget where I am, realize I'm not home, realize I don't need to be to Temp-Pro in a half hour and orientation starts in exactly 2 hours. Reset the alarm for 5:50am.

5:50am - Get up, shower, brush teeth. I don't have my razor. I need a shave. Use dad's razor. Dad's razor sucks. Cut self a few times. Iron clothes. Fuck, I suck at ironing. Get dressed with the partial wrinkles (whatever, I tried). Scramble out the door.

6:20am - No coffee in sight. Not a goddamn Dunkin Donuts anywhere. What the hell. I mean, I know I'm supposed to cut down but I need something. Badly. Slam the peddle down and get to BMA ASAP. Outside the gas station next to the Holiday Inn. Pick up one of those Monster Java things... Not great but it'll do. Wait for people to start showing up. No one is showing up. What the hell. Go in, ask the front desk what room BMA new employee orientation is in. There's nothing scheduled. OH FUCK WHAT? Immediately start calling contacts at BMA. BMA manager made a mistake and apparently it's at the BMA Conference Center. Honest mistake and it's only 5 minutes away. Make it with a minute to spare.

7:45am - Get in. Everyone else is already seated. Anxiously look around and then give a weary smile to the people seated at my table. Told to write my name on some card and place it on the table. Some how, I manage to fuck up the "N" on my card so that it looks like my name is now "Kate". Fuck me. Scribble over the "N/K" abomination and rewrite another "N". Alright, now I just look like a moron who screws up spelling his own name. I should've stuck with Kate.

8:00am  - Presentations start. The projector flashes on. And now begins the speeches on how special we all are. I'm pretty sure the first presenter ripped that shit from Mr. Rogers, not even playing. We listen for the first two hours about policies and such, learn about our HR department, Health facilities. Then... this.

10am - My group decides to nominate me as the "project lead" for this "assignment" the spokesperson gave us. I hesitantly comply, obviously... What am I going to say? I write what we're told to write (our job titles, what brought us to BMA, past work experience, what we wish to take away from working at BMA) and then present it to the "class". I stumble over my words a couple of times but manage through it. Please don't make me do that again. Oh wait, you're going to, aren't you? Shit.

10:30am - Continue listening to speakers. Listen to the Diversity Specialist. "We're all beautiful individuals that offer a particular skill set, we're the best of the best, and that BMA appreciates us for choosing them". Um, I'm pretty sure you guys chose me, but hey, that's cool.

12:00pm - Lunch. Chicken Marsala. Not too bad. I avoid the mushrooms. Mushrooms are icky :( We have a guest at our table. Some person that's important but I forget who she is. Personable friendly sort. She talks at our table for a bit... but then leaves her meal plate behind. I pick it up, along with the others. My table likes me. Or they think I'm a complete kiss ass. I don't care. Empty plates at tables bother me. It wasn't for them, it was for me.

1:00pm - Mark gets up to speak. I like Mark. He seems like a real guy, not the stuffy sort. I listen attentively... and then presents us with another "stand up in front of the class" project. What the fuck, Mark. I thought we were tight and then you go and pull this shit. My group "nominates" me again. And yet again, I have this stupid microphone in my hands, fumbling over my words. Hnnnggh.

2:00pm - We watch employee training movies.

3:00pm - Dip out. Same time, same bat channel tomorrow.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The White Room

You know, you'd think there would be something on them. After living here, at least in the technical sense, for five years, you'd think maybe a poster or two would cover an inch. Some tacked up article. Some certificate of accomplishment. They're okay, though... The walls, blank as they are, still leave you with something to look at without over-stimulation. 

I don't mind that they're bare. It leaves less. I don't know if it was foreshadowing, or just subtle silent reminders that this wasn't the end of the line. No, quite a distance from it. By Friday, I'll take another look at them and then make a promise to myself that my new home won't share the likeness. The walls will have life. Character. Purpose.

Somethings change. But the walls here won't.