Lately, I’ve been training as an EMD (Emergency Medical Dispatcher) through SUA. It involves “shadowing” a trainer, and answering the phones, using the radio, maintaining the dispatch console and computer (all under the watchful eye of a trainer or supervisor).
Being a dispatcher is a lot of work - fun work though. You’re basically in charge of all the vehicles and people on a day-to-day basis. Every vehicle or person on a crew needs to go through you. On an average day you’re responsible for:
- 2 ALS (Advanced Life Support) Ambulances
- 3 MTS (Medical Transport Service) Vans
- 1 Supervisor’s Fly Car (A Ford Expedition that can respond to calls)
Part of the job is MTS calls - basically, students needing to get to a doctor’s appointment or to and from class with an injury. This is pretty basic, but can get hectic if you underestimate how many calls you can receive.
The other part is emergency calls - the stereotypical “911 - where is your emergency” type stuff. Tonight, I answered and dispatched my first “solo” emergency call in which I did everything.
It was kind of scary but pretty cool at the same time. Apparently, I did everything really well and they were impressed with the way I handled myself - hmm, being under pressure, radio communications, task management, dealing with stressed out people - I kind of do that for a living and I’m also majoring in it!
As a member of SU Ambulance, we’re all given a pager when we are promoted above a certain level to be able to get pages about calls during the day, run numbers and timing about calls we go on and other important messages.
I was just setting all my stuff down for the night when my pager went off. This usually doesn’t happen at night unless the crew is really busy and they need to call in a backup crew to handle some of the calls.
I looked at it and saw:
“Driver needed for priority 1 call on south campus. call dispatch.”
So, I decided it would be fun to break up the night with a little medical excitement and decided to call in and go on the call. When I called, one of my friends/supervisors picked up the phone and started laughing saying “HAHA, we got you!”.
Apparently, as a joke, they sent out that page - just to me - to wake me up in the hopes I would call in. Gotta love my friends.
Update: So minutes later, I received a text message that there actually WAS a second call now and that they needed a crew. As the crew got there, the first ambulance was done and the second crew was no longer needed.
There’s a certain degree of irony in this whole situation.
Today was a really busy day for me. I was up early for this costumes lab that is part of my stagecraft class. We’re making pajama pants - yeah, just what I want to do on a Saturday morning.
Anyway, after that I spent a few hours helping to train the probationary members at SUA how to take vitals and use the oxygen systems. I also helped with rig checks and signing off people’s packets for an item on their personnel scavenger hunt.
After that, the SUA members had a training session on ALS Assist. ALS or Advanced Life Support is another name for a higher level or care than we provide (we provide BLS or Basic Life Support). Rural Metro Medical Services have paramedics on board their rigs (as opposed to us where we generall have EMTs and the rare exception Paramedic or Advanced EMT). They came to tell us how we can be of help to the paramedics if they ever come on a call with us and are in our rig.
While I was sitting there, my mind was wandering. I was so hungry. He started talking about drawing blood from a catheter and how to perform and assist with a “quick tracheotomy” which is the process of shoving a plastic tube and bags into the asophagus of a person.
I started to feel a little numb, which usually happens when I talk about blood. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like blood or needles but I’m not squeamish. Anyway, all of a sudden I started freaking myself out and I felt really warm, so I got up and walked out - under the subconcious cover that I was going to the bathroom. As I was walking outside to get some air, I started to see stars in my eyes and by the time I had walked 500 feet to the door, I could no longer see anything. My eyes were open, but I couldn’t see anything. I finally found my way outside and after about five minutes of “omg what the fuck do I do now” I felt better and went back.
The irony: I chose to leave a room full of 2 paramedics, 6 supervisors and over 20 EMTs to go outside alone when I felt like I was going to black out. I’m so smart.
Edit: Sorry in advance for how long this post is.
So, I realized today that I haven’t really written an original post about what I’ve been doing lately. I’ve spent a lot of time just reblogging stuff. This is because I haven’t really had a lot of time to do much.
Right now, I’m in the middle of my last crew assignment for the semester. I was assigned to be a dresser for the SU Drama department show, The Way of the World. It opens tomorrow, so the past week has been tech, dress and previews. I’ve been called to the theatre from about 6:00 PM every night until the 11:20 bus, which thankfully I’m usually able to catch and get home and back in my dorm by 11:30.
Also, I’ve been trying to spend whatever time I’m not working on the show doing stuff for Syracuse University Ambulance. I started working as a MTS (Medical Transport Service) driver. Basically, MTS is the non-emergency transport service that takes students to doctor appointments, to and from the hospitals, and to classes if they hurt themselves and can’t walk or take a bus. What’s nice, is it’s a paying job so every Monday from 4:00 - 6:00 PM and every Tuesday from 8:00 - 11:00 AM, I work over there for them.
I’ve also been doing a lot of training for my Driver Progression on the ambulance side of things. Today was a really great day because I was out training for almost three hours with one of the supervisors and as we were headed back he said “Well, good job you finished your packet.” This means that all I have left to do is get calls until I feel comfortable. I was able to drive to over 200 locations on my own and get them signed off as well as do some other requirements. On the way back, we also had an ambulance call which is really good because every time I drive, I get more comfortable.
I just got back a little while ago and for the most part, I’m in a good mood. The people around me aren’t always being the most supportive or understanding of all the stuff I’m doing. I blame no one but myself for the amount of stuff on my plate, but I’m making the most out of being here and getting a lot out of college. Sometimes it’s hard because even if it’s just joking, it’s not always funny to constantly feel like you’re a bad person for wanting to do more and not being around to bullshit. I hope this changes, because it’s really wearing me out. Once the show is over though, things will get a little more back to normal.
My best friend AJ will also be coming up in about 2 weeks, so I’m really excited for that. And on that note, this post was far too long, but this is what I get for keeping this all bottled up inside for so long.
Today was pretty cool. I spent most of it at SUA. First, I got here around 1:00 to do MTS (Medical Transport Service) training and I got to drive the medical vans around. At 1:30, I got a text from one of the supervisors telling me that I was officially a DRP! This means now I’m a driver progression and can drive the ambulance on shifts. I’m still here now on my last official Attendant shift until 10. Pretty cool though, I’m excited.
This morning I woke up around 9:30 AM to go to SUA Quarters for driver training. When my trainer, Brian, got there we drove up to Skytop (south campus parking lot/apartments, etc.) and he let me drive around. I had to do some weaving in and out of street lights, back into to this impossibly small nook/doorway thing (to simulate backing into a hospital) and had to drive along a curb forwards and backwards but staying really close to it.
Then he let me do some fishtails and sudden braking in the snow. When we were done, I got signed off and was allowed to drive the ambulance back to quarters.
Overall, it was a good morning so far. Planning on hanging out for the day and have this big Martin Luther King observance dinner tonight, a floor meeting and an overnight shift at SUA.
So today I’m headed back to Long Island for winter break. I’ll be home for something like five weeks which is pretty awesome. My flight is a little later but I’m up really early to do some ambulance driver training - yeah, I drive one of those now. Pretty interesting.
Wooh! I passed my test. For those of you that didn’t know, I had my “Probationary Membership Test-Out Examination” last week. Basically, since the time I’ve started I’ve been learning things. This test was where I got to prove I was paying attention. If you passed, you’d be a full member and would be eligible to start a progression (either Driving or Crew Chief), and you’d be a full member. If you failed, you needed to turn in your uniform.
Welllllp, I passed. The test was long and kind of stressful because you didn’t find out right away, but yeah. I’m working my first shift since the test tomorrow night (from 10PM-8AM) and hopefully I can finish all my last training items and start the driver program.
So tonight was my first shift as an EMS Attendant at Syracuse University Ambulance. I was a little worried as to what it was going to be like and had no idea what to expect. When I got here it was a little crowded with people but it calmed down to just myself, the crew chief and the driver as well as the dispatcher.
Right now, it’s 3:16 AM and I’m still on duty for another 5 hours (just about). It’s a lot of fun but I don’t think I’m going to sleep tonight - it’s still a little weird to be in this new place and not really know anyone that well. As of now, I’ve been on two calls - and been to more ambulances than I have my entire life up to now.
We’ll see how charming I am at 9:30 AM in Geri’s class.
So tomorrow (technically today since I’m writing this at 1:14 AM), I’m working my first shift at SU Ambulance as an Attendant. I have to complete a probationary period and once that’s done and I’m a full member I can complete their driver training program and be a Driver and get my EMT-B certification for 6 (free) SU credits.
I’m kind of nervous, because even though they explained that you’re not on the spot and they know you’re learning I have no idea what to expect. I have no idea how many calls I’m going to get or what I’m going to be asked to do.
Here’s the best part: I’m working from 10PM - 8AM. Should be interesting because I don’t really know anyone well yet and it might be weird to like go sleep in the bunks when I’ve never like been there that much yet.
We’ll see what happens.