On the Way to Paramedic in Northern VA
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Sunday, June 11 2006
Rael Electric Razor

Just got back from a short trip to NYC, specifically, Manhattan.

Different town, man. Different rules. Good times.

Horns. We in VA know that horns were installed on cars because sometimes it's too noisy to shout "Hey, y'all!" while you're waving at folk you know walking down the sidewalk. Now I realize that horns mean, "Please levitate your car, or engage its Flying option" - evidently cabbies suspect that if your car isn't yellow, it has one of these nifty packages. I don't think city people know what a trailer hitch is, and it's a good thing we didn't have one. There wasn't room.

Having nursed at the cathode bosom of TV, and tanned in my formative years by its healthy glow, I "knew" that New York cabbies were rude - it was therefore "okay" to be rude back. Emerging from the Lincoln tunnel into Manhattan, someone behind me laid on his horn. Repeatedly. Incessently. At a red light. As if that helped.

My response: Does this finger look infected?

Good ideas for the traveller: When driving through NYC in a convertible, leave the top on.

Crosswalks. In DC, people check the street before crossing even if they have the "walk" signal. Oh, yes they do. In New York, pedestrians go into the crosswalk. They're very good at waiting for the signal, mostly, but sometimes tend to anticipate it by a few moments. If a car moves an inch forward, they stare it down as they continue in front of it, with a look that would make a DC cabbie lock his doors. After parking the car, we mostly hoofed it, and I think we got pretty good at doing the stare.

There was a class listed in the "Welcome Back to Virginia" guide, where we could un-learn the skill and be re-integrated into society, but it was optional and I think I'll skip it. Time will heal.

Money. Forgot to change Virginia dollars for New York dollars, so we never did get the exchange rate figured out properly. For instance, breakfast: 2 orders eggs and toast (2 eggs, 1 piece of toast), with orange juice; one espresso, one coffee (no refills). That costs $32.00 VA money in NYC. In Virginia it costs about $6.00. In Georgia, of course (if memory serves), it's about a buck, and the waitress says "Y'all hardly ate enough to keep alive; sit yourselves back down and I'll fill your plates up again", and they heap on the grits, too. Mmmmm, grits.

We're not going back any time soon, but thanks for thinking of the eatery tip. Thanks just the same.

Missed the last ferry for Liberty Island; did the Empire State, and the specific reason for going in the first place was a presentation at Carnegie Hall so we caught that too. Times Square (from a distance), rode the subway, it was all very nice. Our itinerary left little time for much else.

But, as the saying goes, "Man tends to notice his own folks". What an abundance of bambulances!

FDNY units, private services (I spotted at least four different outfits), many hospital services. Volunteer units, although I didn't see any marked as such, to my knowledge. With a single exception, I saw only the van-type ambulances. Sensible, where road space is at a premium. Fire apparatus was the usual size, of course.

Each outfitted with blinkies and woo-woos, although as we entered the city I could not (thinking of it) understand how that would help. 7th Ave, or Broadway, you have three or four lanes of traffic on one-way streets, with cars parked bumper-to-bumper on both the left and the right. An ambulance can't even drive on the sidewalk - the parked cars block it off. There may be a space to enter the sidewalk, where the fire hydrant is located, and the sign, "No Parking Any Time - This Means You!" and "Maximum Penalty for Parking: Dismemberment". New Yorkers regard this space as "half-hour or less" parking.

Even if you make it to the sidewalk, you have pedestrians staring at you until you lock your doors and contemplate the weather.

Yet, obviously, somehow, the EMS folk make it to where they are going. And an interesting arrival it is, too.

As we strode the sidewalk, staring left and right, we approached a hotel entrance just as an ambulance pulled up. EMS hopped out as a hotel-dude-in-a-suit scuttled forth with The Information. EMS listened as they calmly locked their doors, closed them, and fished through a ring of many keys to unlock the back so they could get their gear. They locked the rig as they went into the hotel.

Understandable of course. Bad guys looking for drugs, needles, any free stuff. Just... different from Virginia. Cue Johnny Depp Wonka: "Man, that is just... weird."

The same ambulance was there a half-hour later, which makes sense, depending on the problem: If you're not getting to the hospital in less than half an hour, because of traffic, go ahead and stabilize on-scene. You're sure not going to land a helicopter for a fly-out. Not that I bothered them to ask if this was the policy, it's just my guess.

Any system that gets over a million calls a year, they gotta know what they're doing. It looked like a tough job, with conditions very different from the ones we face here in Virginia. They're obviously up to it.

Still, one wonders if they have an EMS sponsorship in, say, Jersey, where one week a year bambulance folk from the city can go and drive over 35mph - just to feel it.



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Posted Saturday, July 08 2006 09:31  Site Meter