When asked how their first shift went, most of my fellow EMT students will say something like, “It was good! No calls, though. Pretty uneventful.”
My 4 pm-11 pm shift this past Sunday agrees with about 2/3 of that answer: Yep, it was good (despite the to-be-described misfortune, I did enjoy my first shift), and no, there were no calls. It wasn’t, however, what I would call ‘pretty uneventful.’
Before I begin my little tale, I’d like to take full responsibility for Sunday’s events. I did, after all, hope that something exciting would happen on my first shift ever. What followed that wish was just. my. luck.
My shift began on the doorstep of my dorm, where the other two EMTs on shift kindly picked me up in the MIT ambulance. We proceeded to the ambulance bay, where I spent at least an hour going through a massive checklist of everything in the ambulance. Among the items I diligently checked off were epi-pens, gauze pads, blankets, AEDs, nasal cannulas, and traction splints. Colorful images of injuries requiring the use of these resources often danced in front of my mental eye as I plowed through my task; I tried my best to block them out but cannot claim any real semblance of success.
After completing the checklist, I settled down into the designated third rider seat, making myself comfortable as the first rider on shift unplugged the ambulance from its battery-charging socket and attempted to ease the ambulance out of the bay.
Too bad it didn’t move.
It whimpered feebly and then sputtered into silence. Ironic, that the three of us (well, the other two more than me) had considerable knowledge concerning broken bones and cardiac arrests but that none of us knew how to revive a dead ambulance. So we called in for a little help.
Enter the DAO (Director of Ambulance Operations). And commence the awkward dancing about I do when it’s cold and I’m trying to keep warm.
After two unsuccessful jumpstarting attempts (and several minutes spent FREEZING), our DAO brought the ambulance back into the realm of smooth automotive function and insisted that it be kept running for at least two hours. By this time, I was numb and greatly regretting my pre-shift plea for thrill. It was at this moment that I was given the opportunity to drive the ambulance.
Driving, you must understand, is something I greatly miss in college. I’m all for cardio and exercise and all that, but sometimes, I’d love to drive to class instead of wrapping myself in five layers and walking out, whispering a brief prayer as I become a victim of chilly winds and interminably dry skin that no amount of lotion seems to fix.
After signing off on a few papers, I became a driver’s ed student once again and for the second time in my life, drove something larger than a Toyota Camry. It felt amazing to drive again, to know that even after six months of not touching a steering wheel, I remembered how to navigate a vehicle on a road.
The two hours flew by, and the three of us returned to the ambulance bay, got out of the ambulance, and headed to the bunkroom, where MIT EMTs basically hang out and wait for calls. As my eyes were pretty tired, I sat down on the sofa and closed my eyes. Soon, I heard this:
“Is she asleep?”
“Yeah, I think so.”
“Let’s draw on her!”
“No, that’s mean.”
“But she’s sleeping!”
(Me: laughing on the inside and wondering how long I can keep the charade up)
Five Minutes Later
“Okay, fine, let’s draw on her.”
*patter of shoes, a pen briefly touches my cheek*
(I move slightly (no way am I getting drawn on) and they scatter)
Ten Minutes Later
(Me: Aw, crap. They took a picture of me ‘sleeping.’)
And that’s what happens when you pretend to be someone/something you’re not.