Kids Say The Darnedest Things

P2P: Do you go to school? What did you do in school today?

Kid: I decorated a cupcake.

P2P: Did you? Well that’s pretty cool.

Kid: I talked with her. We were friends.

P2P: With the cupcake?

Kid: Yep.

P2p: What’s her name?

Kid: Um…I don’t know.

P2P: What? Well, you’ll have to ask her.

Kid: But I ate her!

P2P: *gasp* But you said you were friends!

Kid: We were! She didn’t mind. She was a cupcake.

P2P: Well, are we friends?

Kid: Yes.

P2P: Are you going to eat me?

Kid: Are you a cupcake?

P2P: No…

Kid: Then no.

Scared Myself Half to Death

It was quittin’ time. That mid-winter evening darkness had consumed the world outside the station. I tugged on my bright EMS coat, preparing for January’s frigid bite once I left the warmth of the building. I grabbed my keys, wished the new crew well, and headed into the bay.

It was chilly and dark there. A few flickering fluorescent bulbs seemed to provide more shadows than light. I edged my way between the back bumpers of the trucks and the racks of turn-out gear. The smell of old, sooty fires hung in the air. All was quiet, except for the occasional clicking within the settling and cooling engines, and a slow, periodic drip of water onto the concrete floor. I rounded the corner of a fire truck, intending to walk the aisle between the fire engine and the ambulance, make my out of the station and into the night. I didn’t take two paces before the dim light illuminated the silhouette. My heart briefly stopped in my chest. My breath caught in my throat, just before letting out a terrified cry.

The flickering light provided just enough backlighting to make it out. Black boots hung at my eye level. The figure was still. The only movement came from the slow, occasional drip of melting ice off the boot’s soles. I covered my mouth, trying to stifle the scream. This couldn’t be happening.

The door to the living space of the station opened on the other side of the bay. My partner’s voice shouted out my name in concern, followed by the thudding of heavy boots running on the concrete floor.

I broke my gaze from the legs of the figure, and saw another slumped figure only a few yards away. And there was another. And another?

As the crew drew nearer, they flicked on the rest of the lights. In the brilliant light, we could see what had actually happened.

The red cold water exposure suits were hung from a clothesline high above our heads. They had been taken out and used for training purposes that morning, and then hung out to dry overnight. A half-dozen red suits, complete with black rubber boots and gloves, were strung up along this little alleyway. Laughter shattered the unnecessarily horror-filled silence.

Well. At least my reaction was highly amusing to the relief crew. You’re welcome, guys.


Overheard at the Station

Cop: Hey, how’s nursing school?

P2P: Good. To be honest, some days I’m sitting in class, staring at my pencil, and considering giving myself a lobotomy with it because that would be more fun and less painful…but, overall, no, it’s not too bad.

Cop: Yeesh. Well, I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy. Good luck to you.

Damn You Autocorrect!

When you work in the middle of nowhere, you get sent on transfers to far-away places on a regular basis. “Far away” meaning one-way transport times that exceed an hour…sometimes it’s more like 2.5 hours. We find ways to keep ourselves entertained on the journey back to the station. We listen to the radio. We sing/screech along with the radio. We play a game called “find a radio station that comes in enough that we can pick out a few notes among the static.” We talk. We complain. We vent. We play long-car-ride games. Activities that, although fun, aren’t terribly productive. If we had a computer in the truck, we’d probably be more apt to do our reports on it…or at least get the narrative written up.

Every few weeks, we get those days that are absolutely ridiculous, and we are completely swamped in reports. So, some brave souls try to get the narratives done on some document software on their personal tablets or phones during the drive home. I’m not one of those brave souls. Partly because my stomach doesn’t like it when I try to read in moving vehicles. And partly because I am not very good at technology.

That whole speech-to-text thing never works out for me. If I say, “The patient complained of 7/10 sub-sternal chest pain after being chased by the fuzz for three blocks,” my speech-to-text would end up something like, “Patient blames several of them sub colonel apps for chest pain after dealing haste by the buzz funky hops.” And thanks to our good friend autocorrect, typing that same sentence would look like, “The patting complained of u/10 sub-streak chest pain after brunner. Badged. Y the fuzz for then blocks.” *

Being a young adult, there’s sort of this expectation that you just automatically know how to work these gadgets. I seriously don’t. It’s a miracle I can get my smart phone to do the things I can get it to do. I’m lucky I can find Facebook, my email, and write blog posts. Technology just isn’t my game. And recently, we found out that not all of my coworkers are infallible tech gods.

One medic wrote a report on some device that uses autocorrect. He meant to write, “18 gauge IV started in the right AC. Applied tegaderm.” Thanks to autocorrect, we got a version with much more bang, pop, and drama to it.

“18 gauge IV started in the right AC. Applied MEGADEATH.”



*Okay, so THAT might have been a smidge worse than usual. 

The Enigma

I’m at home one day, undoubtedly doing something productive (ha!), when my cell phone goes off.

Probie To Practitioner: Hello?

Captain Enigma*: Hey, P2P, how are you doing? It’s Enigma.

P2P: Fine, thanks, and yourself?

CE: Good, good. Hey, give me a call back at the station, ok?

P2P: Wait, what? Like now?

CE: Yeah. Gotta go.


…Ok…So I give the station a call. Literally, it couldn’t have taken more than 10 seconds to dial the number.

CE: Grover’s Corners Fire Department, Captain Enigma speaking.

P2P: Cap, it’s me.

CE: Oh, hey how are you?

P2P: Good, thanks. So what’s up?

CE: Oh, nothing much. What can I help you with?

P2P: …You called me? So I’m calling you back…?

CE: Oh. Huh. I wonder….ohhh, right right right! Can you cover me later? Just for like 6 hours?

P2P: Yeah, no problem.

CE: I had something else to tell you…I’m not really sure now what it was.

P2P: Huh…I’m sorry.

CE: Oh well.


*Side note: Not a true captain. But the name sounds so much more awesome than just “EMT Enigma.” Kind of like a superhero with the power to baffle.

Antibiotic Cookies

Not my story, but it made me giggle.

A friend of mine went to take his practical exam. He got to the medical assessment station, finding that his patient was suffering from an allergic reaction. He asked her about her allergies. She replied, “Peanuts and penicillin.” The last thing she ate? “A cookie my friend gave me, about 10 minutes ago.”

He very seriously looked into her eyes, placed a hand on her shoulder, and said, “Was there penicillin in the cookie?”

He was joking. Guessing by the described blank stare, she didn’t think it was very funny.

Prediction: The Next Rough Shift

It’s been eerily quie—–erm…..peaceful around these parts lately. Actually, for a disturbingly long amount of time. Some would assume that now would be the time to kick back, relax, watch some good ol’ ‘murican football, and enjoy the down time. But no. These stretches of silence make me uncomfortable. Life is a constant roller coaster of ups and downs…working in EMS is no different. For every prolonged shift of stillness means an interminable ass-kicking shift from hell.

Something like….a blimp and a pack of hang-gliding enthusiasts colliding over downtown. Followed by a cement truck colliding with a dump truck  colliding with a tractor trailer full of Japanese giant hornets. Next, we will have a paraplegic with CHF experiencing fluid overload, stroke-like symptoms, C. diff, and a UTI. We will be called back to that same house an hour later for the man’s cousin, who will have followed up the statement, “Hold my beer and watch this,” by swallowing three D batteries, and losing about 5 watch batteries up his nose. Just as we are making up the cot from that call, a man with a GI bleed will crash into a flock of turkeys…and just when he thinks he’s survived that, he will inevitably hit a deer. Or three. Meanwhile, all of the residents from the local nursing home will finally uprise and escape, taking the streets/fields by storm. Inevitably, in all the fuss, someone on the complete other side of town will call 911 for the man flu.

And that’s just going to be the first half of the shift.

ECASA es su casa?

In nursing school, we have to make up medication cards for the medications that our patients are on. On these cards are things like dosage ranges, mechanism of action, indications, contraindications, side effects, and many other things. They’re time consuming. And they can do some interesting things to friends’ overtired and overworked brains.


Fried Nursing Student: Hey, did you finish your med cards?

P2P: Eventually. I’m not drinking this much coffee because I got a good night’s sleep, we’ll put it that way. You?

FNS: Almost. There was one I couldn’t find anywhere. I looked through all my drug books, all my reference guides…nothing. I’m like freaking out right now. I hope I don’t get in trouble for this…

P2P: That’s really weird it wasn’t in any of  your books…I can’t see how they can fault you on that. What was the drug’s name?

FNS: E-casa.

P2P: Wow…yeah I’ve never heard of that. Like ever. Spell it for me?

FNS: E-C-A-S-A. E-casa.

P2P: Um…Enteric coated aspirin? ECASA?

FNS: …….seriously? Seriously? Wow…I can’t believe…….

P2P (handing over my coffee): Here. You need this more than I do.


Birthday Letter

This has nothing to do with EMS whatsoever. I just have a great friend who mailed me a birthday letter that made me laugh. And here it is, without further ado:


Dear beloved,

It’s been eight long, arduous months at sea. As of right now, my ship, The Atlantonauticus Rex TM, is taking quite the beating in this storm. The Atlantic is treacherous and seemingly content in destroying my life and everything I possess, which is oddly similar to my ex-wife’s personality. She, too, managed to ravage every poop deck she encountered. What a cantankerous pitbull. Regardless, I’m beginning to fear that I may never see the children, little Edward or little Jeanette-Norma-Jeanagain, ever again. Also, I may never see “The Dark Knight Rises” ever again either, which is a shame, because Anne Hathaway. Mmmmm. If you could send that in your next parcel, dearest, that would be most desirable. Send Anne Hathaway, I mean. She’s skinny enough; she could probably fit into the envelope quite comfortably. Oh, and if you want to send the movie, you can, but I’ll probably end up feeding it to Anne. Hathaway gets quite hungry, you know, but she’s a nice enough house pet. Sometimes I feel I shou–

Oh dear, that wasn’t meant for you. That was for…errr…hoo-boy….

BIRTH. That’s why we’re here today! “Here” being two completely different places, of course. Ideally, my postal dwarf will have reached you by your birthday, but knowing Niklovitch, he’ll decide to be “fashionably late,” resulting in this postponed delivery. If it’s pretty late, then you can celebrate the anniversary of Susan B. Anthony defying laws in 1872 and voting, helping the Women’s Suffrage movement [1].  Enjoying her acts of defiance, she continued to break other laws. She defied all standards of decency and ran around in the nude shortly after. Then she broke the law again by robbing a jewelry store. And finally, she defied the laws of gravity, physics, and God-knows-what-else and flew to the moon. And used her time machine to fight Abraham Lincoln [citation needed]. Assuming you get this in time for election day, you can celebrate by voting! I AM accepting write-ins for president, but I encourage you to write-in Winston Churchill in order to put the government in an awkward spot if he–a dead WWII-era British Prime Minister–wins the American election somehow.

But…20 years old! That is an achievement! You’ve personally seen through two decades! Actually, maybe not, if you don’t count sleep as “seeing.” So, let’s chop that in half, roughly, because you slept a TON when you were a lil’ thing. So you’re 10 years old! Congratulations! I got you Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle bumper stickers, or whatever the hell 10-year old girls like. What the hell do they like, actually? Whatever, I’ll get you one of [whatever they like], but you have to behave when we go to the McDonald’s Playpen. No, I’m not going in with y– I said no, I can’t actually fit inside, honey. I’m goin–I SAID NO–gah, I need aspirin.

Let’s pretend you’re actually 20, you adorable-yet-persistent 10-year old. Phew, thank god. Alright. 20 years old can be rough sometimes, but this is just like every other year; full of ups, downs, and even arounds, if you’re clever. Each new year of living is a neutral slate, ready to be chiseled into something good, even if it takes a bit of work or you break the chisel (us guys have Viagra for the latter?). Additionally, each subsequent birthday is a step closer to independence and freedom in personal decisions, such as deciding whether or not it is a good idea to indulge in indecent exposure at your frandfather’s birthday party at the nursing home donate your entire savings to the Nigerian prince who emails you asking for help/your credit card number in reclaiming his family’s royal estate. Never mind the fact that his email is “”–it is ultimately your decision to help this poor, desperate man or not. It’s only his estate, after all.

So 20 isn’t exactly anything new–it’s unlikely that you’ve popped out of some dark crevice somewhere this year, unless you happen to explore Southwestern caves frequently or spend your time Batmanning for a living. But it’s a lovely new chapter with untold promise. Like seeing a new episode of your favorite TV show, and it turns out to be REALLY FREAKIN GOOD, even if you didn’t expect it to be. “Oh, this show is good, I like to watch it every week” you say, but then the next episode could leave you feeling like “THAT WAS FREAKING AWESOME, WHY IS THE SCRIPT OF THIS EPISODE NOT TATTOO’D ON ME AS A TRAMPSTAMP YET?” And even if it’s nothing particularly new, there’s always this: “The year you were born marks only your entry into the world. Other years where you prove your worth, they are the ones worth celebrating.” (Jarod Kintz, some book or article or something). And you have every reason to celebrate, even if it’s not 100% clear all the time.

Keep your chin up and  “I’ll write once I land on Russian shores. We decided to take the long way around and our new Angelina Jolie is eating the crewmembers. Please send firearms with your next par–“ Oh dammit.

Thank you for everything, from your friend,

Freshwater Sharks

One day, in my EMT class, our teacher went off on this scenario. He was talking about being on some rescue saving some guy in some lake in some town somewhere else. I think the point of the story was that you needed to think ahead and consider what resources you might need to call for in such an event. So he asked us what we’d need to consider before and while arriving on scene.

“Well, I’d want some sort of police protection. Or a hunter. Or fisherman,” This student said. We all sat quiet, waiting for his rationale. “Gotta watch out for those sharks, man. No sharks. Scene safety.” We all subtly looked at each other.

“…Okay. Uh…interesting thought. But it’s a lake,” The teacher replied cautiously.

“Yeah, and it’s a shark. I don’t mess around with those things. Too many teeth.”