On December 31 1986 the Hospital hired on a new ambulance crew. They paid for a full time Paramedic to be on duty all the time, and would pay for a part time Emergency Medical Technician or First Responder to stand by. The Fire Department had all of us first Responders/EMT’s sign up for standby duty. The person on duty would take the ambulance home and if there was a call during our standby time we would meet the Paramedic at the scene and drive the Paramedic and the patient to the hospital. I really didn’t feel comfortable enough to take the ambulance home and meet the Paramedic at the scene, so I would go to the hospital and either sleep in the ambulance or sneak in the Physical Therapy department and sleep on their mats. If there was an empty room in the unit, I would sleep there. I was known at the hospital for being found sleeping in odd places, but it worked! I didn’t feel comfortable in my skills to be working on the ambulance so I signed up for an EMT course. It was three months long beginning in March and ending in June. I bartended three nights a week and took the class two nights a week. Learning never has come easy for me, and I was determined to pass this class so I would make 3x5 cards with facts on them and tape them behind the bar in different spots. So if I was washing glasses, I would read the blood pressure norms for adult, child & infant. At the mixing station I would learn the 204 bones of the body. You get the idea.
In June the finals were taken. The Patient assessment test was the hardest. I had to give a complete Patient Assessment looking for any injuries (hidden taped pencils) and ask the right questions. I passed the testing with flying colors, but had to wait a few weeks for the written to be tested and returned.
After the testing we all went to a bar in Freeland and got drunk (surprised?) I had some fireworks I had been saving for a special occasion so we went out to the parking lot and set them off. OOPS!! Some landed on the roof of the nursing home next door, but that’s ok, we were drunk firefighters and cops!! No damage was done, but we did giggle all the way home after getting our hands slapped!!
Three weeks later the test scores came back and I passed with a 94!! WOOHOO I am now an EMT!! ME!! A responsible person doing something good for the community instead of just getting people drunk and putting them on the road (me included)!!
On June 21st we got a call for a sailboat overturned and 6 people in the water. I got to the station and got rescue 51 and waited for a partner and we went to the scene. A Navy helicopter was picking the victims out of the water and bringing them to shore. We would run bent over under the rotor blades (like in M.A.S.H.) and get the patients and put them on a back board and run them up the beach to the ambulance. All 6 survived but had hypothermia. We had two patients hanging on backboards from the ceiling and one on the gurney, one on the bench, one sitting on the medic chair and one up front in the passenger seat. I rode in the ambulance back to the hospital. After the call we all met at the Tyee for drinks. Our adrenaline was pumping!! I got home about 1:00am and started in on the scotch. Larry got home at 12:30 and started drinking his Millers. We had a call for an MVA about 2:00am but I was drunk and couldn’t go. I called my Captain and he couldn’t go either because he was drunk so we stayed on the phone and flirted with each other. To this day I have no idea what I said to him but he smiles and winks every time he sees me!! I thought I was the sexiest person in the world when I was drunk!!
Well I remember going to bed about 4:00am. I don’t remember the rest……About 5:00am two deputies came to get me. A deputy friend of mine was in the hospital having her baby and she asked for me to be notified because she knew I wanted to see a live birth for my EMT skills!! So I was pulled out of bed and I drove to the hospital two miles away in a blackout!! How would I explain that to a judge if I got a ticket or was in an accident? Sheesh!! Well any way, I “came to” in the operating room joking with the doctor while he was performing a C-section on my friend!! I remember seeing this huge baby and joking about the after birth and saying I think I’ll have liver for dinner. (Yuck!!)
I had to work on the ambulance the next day and the paramedic I worked with was joking with me about how drunk I was the night before!! I told him I’d never drink again!! He laughed and said “Sure you will”!! I said not the way I feel now!! I made a complete fool of myself in front of the hospital staff!! He said he’d bet me $50.00 I couldn’t go 6 months without a drink!! HA!!! He didn’t know who he was talking to!! So I shook and the bet was on!! The next time I worked with Tony he called me to his room and sat me down and gave me a book called “Under the Influence”. It is all about alcoholism. I was embarrassed and wondered why he gave me that book. He told me he was an alcoholic and was two years sober!! I was shocked!! An alcoholic? You? He laughed and asked what I thought an alcoholic was, and I never really thought about it, but I knew my mom was one. He said read the book and I will talk with you next time we work together.