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.

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 “nigerianprince@compuserve.net”–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.”

When Disaster Strikes…

Everyone. Meet Harley.


Harley says, “Hello.”

He attempted to save my life today, and warn me of the doom and gloom to come. I just thought he was squeaking a lot and running around like crazy because he wanted attention and/or food. So I remedied the situation with feeding him hay, not realizing he was attempting to save us all.

About an hour later, we had an earthquake! In New England! What??? It was only a 4.6, but considering nothing ever happens here in the middle of nowhere, it’s kind of a big deal. Well, at least that’s what the local news stations and Facebook would have you believe.

New England Earthquake 2012

All in all, an interesting day off. I actually witnessed that whole phenomenon where animals seem to have knowledge that some natural disaster is looming. So, thanks Harley. That was pretty cool of you.


The Ambulance Ride Home from Far Away Medical Center

Paramedic: Hey, is it cool with you if we stop off in Middlunowhere on the way home? There’s this place, Roadside Jack’s Country Store, that sells the world’s BEST apple pie.

P2P: The best?

Paramedic: Did I stutter?

P2P: Well then, we’ll have to stop and get some. Can’t turn down the world’s best apple pie. Particularly not if it’s Roadside Jack’s.


Twenty minutes of delicious descriptions later, as we cross the border into Middlunowhere…

Paramedic: I certainly hope he has pie today.

P2P: Hold on, you’re making this big fuss about going here. And you got me and the crew back home all excited about bringing back the world’s BEST apple pie, and it might not even be there?!

Paramedic: Roadside Jack is part man, P2P! He’s not God! He might not have made enough pie to feed the masses.


Fortunately, Roadside Jack’s apple pies were still available for purchase. And we called the crew at home to go and get vanilla ice cream ready for our ultimate return.


Paramedic: How can you live in New England and not ski?

P2P: I think we go over this EVERY TIME we get in the truck. I never learned. You were going to teach me last year, actually, remember? But then there was no snow.

Paramedic: Oh, right. Well, it’s supposed to be a bad winter this year. There will be lots of snow.

P2P: Yes. The woolly caterpillars are extra fuzzy this year. And there are squirrels all over the place.

Paramedic: ….I don’t think that’s how it goes, but I like your style.

Medic School: How to Trash the Back of an Ambulance 101

Paramedic school. It’s roughly a two-year program. It covers all sorts of topics. Cardiology. Pathophysiology. Anatomy & Physiology. How to Make a Huge Mess out of the Back of the Ambulance.

I’m certain they teach that last one as an actual module. Paramedics, I love you dearly and think you do a great job with patient care, but what is the deal here?? When we loaded the patient into the back of the ambulance together, everything was nice and organized. All the cabinets were closed, the floor had been swept, the trash can had been emptied…everything was good to go. After checking to make sure you didn’t need my help for anything, I got up front and drove us to the hospital. Apparently, sometime during transport, a tornado that ripped through a Welch-Allyn factory died out over the back of our ambulance. I open the doors, and an unopened bottle of activated charcoal rolls out of the truck. Stray EKG electrodes are all over the floor. There’s an OB kit in the airway seat, which troubles me, considering it was a male patient. There are a dozen little pieces of tape all over the overhead bars and under the cabinets. The meager collection of pens I had procured for the ambulance has been obliterated…all of which are either broken or lost forever. The box of large gloves has been torn open, and purple gloves are now everywhere. The monitor’s leads, BP cuff cable, and SPO2 cable are all jumbled and tied together in some sort of crafty, untangle-able Celtic knot. And, for good measure, unopened band-aids, 4×4 packets, and blood glucose test strips are scattered throughout the ambulance, as if part of the protocol for this patient required a ritual dance that involved aforementioned equipment being flung about wildly. Interesting sidenote: the trash can was still empty.

Dude. The guy had a cold. You took a blood sugar and vital signs. How did this happen?

ABC’s of EMS

A is for ambulance: our office, our space.

B is for bath salts, please don’t eat my face.

C is for coffee, of which there is never enough

D is for dispatch, who can make your life tough

E is for endotracheal intubation, for those who are very sick

F is for food: eat when you can, and you better eat quick!

G is for grandma, who slipped on the floor

H is for hospital, where we bring the rich and the poor

I is for interventions, to which the patient consented

J is for jugular, which is bad if distended

K is for Kussmauls, which means you’re metabolically screwed up

L is for life, which we try to preserve when you’re one sick pup

M is for myocardial infarction, “heart attack” as it’s better known

N is for Narcan, just enough so they can breathe on their own

O is for oxygen, simple drug that can’t be beat

P is for pedi’s,  nerve-wracking  to treat

Q is for Q wave: a heart attack in the past?

R is for respirations: distress means move fast!

S is for stupidity, which keeps our jobs secure

T is for tough, for those that endure

U is for uncomfortable; they’ll need analgesia

V is for Versed, milk of amnesia

W is for “What the hell?!”, an on-scene provider’s silent quip

X is for xiphoid process: the sternum’s inferior tip

Y is for yankeur, clear the airway before they’re blue

Z is for zoom, which lights and sirens will let you do

A Case Study of Chocolate Withdrawal Syndrome

To make a long story short, I have started seeing a new doctor in an effort to try and treat some health problems I have been experiencing, despite sticking to my strict gluten free diet (which I have adopted secondary to having celiac disease). (For you curious minds, see this post, which gives you some background knowledge. Certainly not crucial to appreciating this post however!) Among one of these new diagnostic treatments, this doctor suggested I go a solid week without eating soy. Psh, no problem, I think. I am the MASTER at culinary self-denial. Try saying no to anything with wheat, barley, rye, oats, MSG, modified food starch, and other popular food additives. Um, wrong! So very very wrong!

First off, do you have any idea how many things have soy in them? Now, try finding gluten free foods with no soy in them. If it doesn’t have wheat flour, it probably has some soy flour/protein/oil/lecithin.

Now, all health problems aside, I’ve always joked that I am a chocolate addict. Particularly Reese’s. And M&M’s. There is soy lecithin in EVERY chocolate candy I’ve ever seen. So, in turn, I have been going without chocolate in my attempt to stick to my new soy free diet trial. This is kind of what my week of withdrawals looked like (credit to Dr. Grumpy for inspiring me with this post.)



Pt is pink, warm, and dry. GCS 15. Pulse 80, BP 102/72, respirations 15. Pt has an optimistic and hopeful affect, expressing excitement that this soy-free diet might help relieve pt’s persistent, chronic symptoms, namely nausea x 4 years. Pt arrives at the grocery store to purchase gluten free/soy free foods. Pt found some difficulty in finding foods that stayed within her dietary restrictions, but left the store with several groceries, and in an over all good mood



Pt is pale, warm, and dry. GCS 15. Pulse 90, BP 120/70, respirations 18. Pt is in mild distress, as pt’s sweet tooth is emerging. Pt searches through cabinets, realizing that the gluten free/ soy free food she purchased the day prior failed to satisfy her chocolate cravings: deli cuts, sesame seed crackers, almond butter, yogurt, applesauce, pears, soups, and a frozen pizza. Pt admits to an addiction to chocolate. Pt states she does not need rehabilitation services “…because I’ve got this under control.” Pt ingests vanilla yogurt in an effort to stave off sweet tooth cravings. Pt reports that this self-treatment has some positive effect.



Pt is pale, cool, and diaphoretic. GCS 14 (-1 for verbal), pulse 108, BP 128/76, respirations 30. Pt’s continually turns conversation topic towards chocolate. Pt ingests pears and applesauce in an effort to satiate the desire for a sweet taste. Pt states that while this had a positive effect the day prior, the self-treatment is not working as well today. Pt drives to the store and wanders through aisles with a shuffling gait, grabbing food off of shelves and reading ingredient labels for gluten and soy content. When other store patrons approach, pt reacts in a socially inappropriate manner, including shouting, gnashing teeth, flailing arms, standing in an aggressive stance, throwing items with the intent to cause emotional or physical harm to others, and exhibiting fear and paranoia. Other patrons grow alarmed and attempt to avoid the patient. Patient continues to wander aimlessly about the store, checking the ingredients of items, and dropping each gluten- or soy-containing food item to the floor. Pt leaves without any food products.



Pt is pale, cool, and diaphoretic. GCS 13 (-2 for verbal), pulse 130, BP 140/86, respirations 36. Pt’s breathing is labored and heavy. Pt appears to have lost interest in maintaining personal hygiene. Pt has torn kitchen apart, with food items and cooking utensils strewn all over the floor. Pt is found sitting on the kitchen floor, attempting to convince her pet guinea pig to create gluten free/soy free chocolate. Guinea pig presented no potential danger to EMS personnel, and appeared to be grateful to be removed from its owner’s presence and relocated to its cage. Pt is complaining of hallucinations involving chocolate bars, cocoa plants, and candies. Pt smiles and giggles without reason.



Pt is pale, cool, and diaphoretic. GCS 9 (-1 for eyes, -3 verbal, -2 for motor), pulse 148, BP 154/102, respirations 40. Pt is found lying supine on the kitchen floor, with limbs spread eagle. Pt’s appearance is generally unkempt, wearing the same clothes as the day prior, still appearing to have lost interest in maintaining personal hygiene. Pt has a brown powdery substance about her nose and mouth. An empty box of Nestle cocoa powder is found on the countertop, along with a line of what also appears to be cocoa powder.

Pt insisted that she did not have a chocolate addiction problem. After refusing to check into rehab, pt was turned on to the “Enjoy Life” food company, which specializes in producing food for patients with multiple food allergies. Pt has since supplemented her diet with regular self-administration of chocolate chip cookies to regulate pt’s BCL (blood chocolate levels). Pt has since been doing better, with vitals returning back to a normal range, and GCS returning to 15. Pt vows to never go so long without chocolate again.


(Disclaimer for those who aren’t very good at identifying sarcasm/satire: I have never, do not currently, and have no plans to snort chocolate powder. Also, it comes highly recommended that you don’t try it either.)