Categories
Uncategorized

Respiratory madness

I have been working for 30 straight hours. I am on the second half of a 48 hour shift. Today, my EMT partner also happens to be one of my paramedic students. Since the class just had their midterms, I tell him that he can run the calls today, and I will only step in if he needs help.

Our first call of the morning goes rather smoothly, it is a woman complaining of vertigo. She has a history of it, and it is a pretty easy call. Our second call of the day did not go quite the same way.

It came in as a non-emergency call for a man who has not eaten in three days. When we arrive, I let my partner enter first. I hear him talking to the patient as I get the stretcher ready. As soon as I finish that task, I enter the room. The patient is cyanotic, he is tripoding, and he has one word dyspnea. He is covered in sweat. I have seen this look before, and a patient that has it never does well. My partner is busy asking about his eating habits and is oblivious to the state his patient is in.

I tell him we need to be moving to the truck. When we get there, the patient has no lung sounds at the bases, and almost no lung sounds at the apexes. He is begging us to sit him up. His SaO2 is 88%. He has COPD is normally on home oxygen, but he says he took it off so he could smoke a cigarette.

He is struggling to breathe, and I cannot believe that he will be conscious for long. I call for backup as we hook him up to the CPAP machine. My partner secures an IV, and as the backup arrives, I tell one of them to get in front and drive us to the closest hospital. The patient balks. He says that he doesn’t want to go THERE, he wants to go to another one almost 10 minutes further. I tell him that I am not going to bypass a perfectly good hospital with a patient who is about to die. He tries to argue, but not being able to breathe cuts him off from too much protesting.

When we get to the hospital 3 minutes later, he is barely responsive. I am trying to keep his airway open, as he breathes 40 times a minute. At least his SaO2 is now 99%. I tell the nurse what is going on, and she tries to tell me that because I put a COPD patient on CPAP I knocked out his respiratory drive. I gave her a stupid look. Right about the time I was warming up to my answer,the charge nurse (who was a street medic himself) saved me from the disciplinary action that was soon to follow my remarks by taking over for nurse clueless.

CPAP is indicated in the treatment of pulmonary edema, especially in the presence of COPD or CHF. In the short amount of time that EMS has contact with COPD patients, oxygen is not going to knock out the respiratory drive of the patient. This was indicated by his respiratory rate of 40.

and the next time my partner sees “the look” he won’t get tunnel vision, and he will know what is coming. That is how we learn, folks.

Categories
Uncategorized

More on the Searches

It appears as if I am not alone in my disdain for searches by stores.

Categories
Uncategorized

The Best Buy searches

I went to Best Buy and bought a new HDTV. I got a 50″ Plasma, a table to put it on, and a surround sound system for it. I was replacing my 6 year old rear projection HDTV. The new set looks great, but that is not the point.

The Best Buy in south Orlando is set up so that when you leave the registers, you approach the exit from a direction that is completely different from people who are exiting the store that haven’t bought anything. That is, if you are leaving the store from that direction, you had to have passed through the check out.

After leaving the check out, there is a guy that stands there and always wants to look at your receipt. Now, this isn’t just Best Buy. Most stores around here now do this, and it annoys me. It is like the store is saying “We think you are a criminal.”

So, about a year ago, I stopped doing it. When they ask for my receipt, I ignore them and just keep walking. I do not steal, and my stuff is in a bag that has your store’s name on it. You have no reason to search me, so I am not going to allow it. If they don’t like it, I don’t care. I am not breaking the law, you have no reasonable suspicion that I am, and you are not going to search me. The simple fact that I am leaving your store with merchandise does not mean that I stole it. After all, the whole point of you even having a store, is having people leave it with merchandise. I bet hundreds of people leave that store every day with merchandise.

The guard at the store, and the woman next to him, yelled at my back as I left the store. The guy telling me to stop, and the woman calling me a rude jerk. Funny thing is, no one considers it rude to accuse you of stealing and demand that you be searched.

What is wrong with this country that we think this behavior is acceptable and necessary?

Categories
Uncategorized

Empty nest

On Friday, my son announced that he was ready to leave the nest. He moved out on Sunday. I am torn about this for a number of reasons.

I am glad that he is now ready to face the world. He finished his AS, he has a good job as a Firefighter/EMT, and he makes decent money for a 20 year old (he turns 20 in November) He started Paramedic school last month, and I am flattered that he is following in my footsteps. It makes me proud that he is doing so well. I know he can’t stay forever, and he must live his own life.

I am going to miss him terribly. We do so much together. We go places, we hang out, we play video games. My life and my home are going to be a little emptier without him around.

I hope he remembers to visit his old man. Next step is being a grandfather. Man, I am getting old.

Categories
Uncategorized

Doc in the Box

Wal Mart. You can do everything there. The Wal Mart in our response area sells the normal Wal Mart stuff, plus groceries, and automotive repair services. Inside, there is a pharmacy, an eyeglass store, two restaurants, a bank, a photo studio and a Walk in Medical Clinic.

How poorly do you have to do in medical school to be the Wal Mart doctor? We responded to this “Doctor’s” office three times yesterday. One of these visits was telling.

A man here was on vacation, and sitting near the pool eating is vegetarian submarine sandwich. Less than thirty minutes later, he developed shortness of breath, a tickle in his throat, and a rash known as urticaria. He complained that he “felt bad.” What does the family do? Call 911? Rush him to the hospital? No… They took him to Wal Mart, in the process driving past two fire stations and a hospital.

When he arrived, the Doctor gave him 50mg Benedryl, 1mg Epinephrine, and 125mg of solumedrol. When all of this failed to work, she called 911. When our heroes arrived, we noted that she had given everything except tagamet, so we talked about starting a tagamet infusion (300mg over 10 minutes). The Doctor told us that she would rather we did not, because the patient had been seen a month ago by his doctor back home for chest pain, and that he would need cardiac monitoring before we gave any drugs.

Uhhh- she doesn’t even have a cardiac monitor (we do) and she gave him epinephrine, which was the correct thing to do. However, epi has far more cardiac effect than tagamet does. Yes, there are rare instances of arrhythmias and hypotension with tagamet, but then again epi is to be used with caution in patients with a history of hear disease due to the increased myocardial oxygen demand that epi is sure to cause. The fact that the patient was orthostatically hypotensive was more of a concern to me than an anginal episode of unknown origin a month ago.

We got him in the truck, did a 12 lead, IV, oxygen, tagamet, and went down the road. He had no known allergies, so eating a sandwich will be an adventure for him in the future. Heck, it may not have even been the sandwich. We DO have a lot of biting insects here.

Categories
Uncategorized

I can’t believe you are an instructor

A Para-fetus came to me yesterday with a question. It seems that the young one was in paramedic class yesterday, and the instructor asked them if they knew when it was appropriate to use a Kendrick Extrication Device. The student replied, “To move patients while stabilizing the spine, for example, to remove a patient from a car after the roof has been cut off.”

To which the Instructor replied, “If you have to cut the roof off, the patient is probably too critical to bother using a KED.”

Ummm, it is called the Kendrick Extrication Device. You know, to extricate patients with. This is plainly an instructor trying to impress his class with his encyclopedic knowledge. If you want to get into the discussion of hemodynamic instability, and the decision to perform rapid extrication, fine. What I don’t understand is why you would make a blanket statement like that.

Some people who instruct need to think carefully about what you are teaching students before you speak. For reference, here is how I make the decision:

All patients die from the same cause: hypoperfusion. Every death is caused by a failure of the body to perfuse the brain. Therefore, anything that threatens that is a serious concern. A good rule of thumb is to perform a rapid extrication on a patient who is critically unstable and in danger of hypoperfusion.

These patients are easily spotted:

Altered level of consciousness
Systolic BP <90mm hg (in other words, lack of a radial pulse)
Breathing rate less than 10 or more than 30
Serious, uncontrolled hemorrhaging

Most other patients can wait the extra 3 minutes or so to stabilize the Cspine, especially if the patient’s mechanism of injury or clinical signs suggest Cspine injury.

Categories
Uncategorized

DirecTV

A couple of years ago, I got DirecTV. I wanted to get the high definition, and I wanted to have digital recording capability. When I originally got the service, the operator told me that the HD DVR’s were too expensive for them to lease, and if I wanted it, I would have to buy it. I did, for $425. I leased two other receivers, for which I had to sign a one year contract. All was well.

20 months later, I bought a new house and decided to move. In order to transfer the DirecTV, they told me that I would have to pay for the installation. Since my house was wired for CATV and not satellite, this was going to be expensive. My year was up, so I canceled and got CATV instead.

My final bill comes, and lo and behold, they charged me $187 in cancellation fees. They tried to say that the DVR was a lease. I pointed out that I was only billed for two leased receivers. The reason I wasn’t charged the $5 a month for the lease was that the first leased receiver is not billed, according to them. Think about this- $425 plus a $4.99 a month for 20 months, plus a $187 cancellation fee= total cost for the leased receiver of $711.80, AND they wanted me to return the DVR.

The paperwork they gave, the hidden service agreements, referenced in fine print, and the confusing terms made my head spin. Large amounts of double talk and half truths made me feel like I was buying a used car. When you deal with these guys, look for the asterisks and the escape clauses.

When I produced the receipt for the DVR, along with the credit card statement, instead of doing what was right, they sent me to a collection agency. I threatened to sue. Three months later, they finally send me a letter, canceling the fees. I now have a DVR that I can sell, along with a resolve to never try DirecTV again, and I will urge others to do the same.

Categories
Uncategorized

Constitutional Confusion

While my coworkers and I were discussing the previous post, one of them remarked that no one should be allowed to own any gun that the police do not own. I told him I was fine with that, because the police own machine guns, tanks, and rocket launchers. He said no, he meant what the average officer on the street has. He then gave the standard line about the constitution being out of date.

When I pointed out that his opinion would apply to the other amendments as well, and asked him to tell me how he felt about that, he told me that the Constitution was unneeded in this day and age, and he felt that too many people “hid” behind the constitution. He thinks that society is falling apart because we let people have too much freedom, and they abuse it.

He used Child pornography as an example. He said that under the First Amendment, child porn would be legal. I told him that if I want to write stories about children in those situations, that would be protected speech, however repugnant it may be. When a child porn FILM is made, you would be prosecuted. Not for a speech crime, but for having sex with minors. The speech is protected, the act is not. That is like saying a book about bank robberies is legal, but robbing one isn’t.

He ranted on about how it should be illegal to slander the President (citing the TV show “Lil Bush”) and how we should eliminate the separation of church and state, so that we can declare Christianity the national religion, thus preventing Muslims from taking over the world.

People scare and amaze me at the same time.

Categories
Uncategorized

Complete waste of time

From Orlando, this is a story about a “guns for sneakers” program. In this program, the police offer sneakers, or $50 for anyone who brings them a gun- no questions asked. Read some quotes from the article:

An unblemished 1903 .32-caliber Colt pistol caught the eye of a knowledgeable deputy who checked the Internet and found it was worth about $1,400.

or this one:

Despite being more than 100 years old, it and dozens of other old handguns in various calibers still worked and would be deadly, deputies and officers said. Few of the exchanged weapons were late-model 9 mm and .45-caliber pistols, the sort used in many of the more than 100 murders last year in Orlando and Orange County.

one man brought in three valuable rifles.

Worth more than $3,000, the three military-style target rifles will be destroyed just like the rusted guns worth less than $50 that were turned in, organizers said. Before going under cutting torches, guns that work will be test-fired so the bullets and cartridges can be compared to evidence in unsolved murder cases, they said.

“Somebody took really good care of this,” said Williams, holding a .308-caliber M1-A Springfield rifle worth about $1,500. “I’d bet a body part this was never used in a crime.”

One man even turned in a fiberglass tube that he claimed was a missile launcher.

– Wasted, valuable guns that have never been used in a crime will be destroyed. Criminals don’t use M1A’s to commit crimes.

– Junk guns that probably don’t work, the owners paid $50. Probably more than twice what they are worth.

– The guns being used in crimes? Nowhere to be found.

This program cost us over $32,000. It will have exactly ZERO effect on crime. Those are our tax dollars at work.

Yet the cities in Florida, when faced with tax cuts, loudly complain that there is no fat in the budget.

Categories
Uncategorized

Pharmaceutically Gifted

We get a call to assist law enforcement with a subject that had been tazed. These calls are usually interesting. When we arrive, we find 2 injured Deputies, an uninjured Sergeant, and one handcuffed female, who is writhing on the ground and squealing about various medical complaints.

On further inspection, the female has at least 4 darts stuck in her legs and torso. She is telling us about her chest pain, about the fact that she cannot feel the left side of her body, and repeatedly telling us that she NEEDS to go to the hospital, or she is going to die.

The police are telling me that she has been tazed 5 times. She pulled the darts out twice, and managed to injure the two cops. She can’t weigh more than 150 pounds, and is certainly NOT as large as the three deputies that she was roughing up. She is now wearing TWO pairs of handcuffs. It makes it hard to get to her radial pulses.

One of my fellow medics reminds her that she is going to jail whether she goes to the hospital or not. I move to take her pulse, and it is humming along at a healthy clip- 174 beats per minute. My first assessment question:

DM: “What drugs did you take tonight?”
PT: “I didn’t take nuthin’.”
DM “Then how did that crack pipe get on your living room floor over there?”
PT: “Sumdood musta left it there.”
DM: “Oh. Him again.

You hear about people dying in police custody after being tazed multiple times. After my own admittedly narrow experiences, I have a theory. These people are dying because of a combination of things. The massive exertion of fighting the cops, positional asphyxia (from being handcuffed in restrictive positions), combined with the tazing and the drug use, all combine to place stresses on the heart that it is not designed to take. I believe that the tazer use is the least important of these factors.