On the Way to Paramedic in Northern VA

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Wednesday, January 17 2007
Huginn and Muninn

Snorri Sturluson, writer of such Icelandic sagas as the Heimskringla and the Prose Edda, tells of Odin's ravens named Huginn ("Thought") and Muninn ("Memory"). The ravens would fly off each day, travel the world, and return to perch on Odin's shoulders, giving Odin a heads-up as to what was going on. I've never heard what mechanism Santa Claus uses, but it's the same principle as the "He knows when you've been sleeping, he knows when you're awake..." thing.

The point being that these ravens worked as a team - without Thought, Memory wasn't very useful, and vice versa. Ah, clever Snorri! Would that I had payed more attention to your simple teachings!

Behold - DTs receives an Email late Tuesday night: "You have been included in this upcoming test for NREMT-P, so do please show up on Friday at 07:00".

Scheisse! I work a 24-hour shift on Thursday which ends at 06:00. I have Wednesday to study, whatever I can cram in Thursday between calls... that's it. Doom and failure. All is lost.

But no, what downcast turns are these? "Have you not, DTs," said I to myself, "been working lo these many weeks on your memory system? Is it then so feeble? Buck up, li'l Buckaroo, and turn that frown upside-down! Besides, look here: you are upgrading from I to P and have only to take a few of the many tests. This Can Be Done."

Indeed. Now, lest anyone get the wrong idea, DTs is fully capable of performing each and every skill asked for by the National Registry. The test, though, is more like summoning a demon, where the faintest misstep = an instant and hideous death:

"An ye would Summone an Pediatric IO, Firste cleanse the flat anteromedial aspect of the tibia one finger's width distal to the inferior border of the tibial tuberosity; spin thrice widdershins while calling out "Clear! Clear! Clear!"; sprinkle camphor using the index finger and thumb of the right hand held at eye level over the left shoulder... <900 steps omitted>... Thus is pediatric interosseous IV access gained."

So. I have 24 hours, a memory system, a list of stations to take, "a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark, and I'm wearing sunglasses." Sweet.

DTs arrives to the test in high spirits. Not particularly useful but one of the side-effects of the locii system of memory is that it is possible for one to recite whatever was memorized backwards if desired. So, I can literally perform each of the skills both forwards and backwards. Piece of cake.

"DTs, Go Forth and Perform the Trauma Station."

"So let it written; so let it be done!" I reply jauntily. Simplicity itself. As are the other stations. I had to gently remind some of the testing folk what to do at a couple of the stations ("At this point, the examiner says..." I prompt after a too-lengthy pause. Fun!) Muninn, baby, you perch right there on my shoulder, we be smokin' hot...

"DTs, Go Forth and Perform the xxxx Station."

Say what? That was not one of the stations I memorized.

"Excuse, please," says Humble DTs. "I am upgrading from I to P and do not need to test that station."

"Aha!" says the examiner. "You did not reckon with the mighty, awesome, wildly subjective power of the NREMT! The upgrade only applies if you got your I within the last 12 months. You, DTs, have been an I for longer than that and therefore must test for each and every station!"

"Son of a bit- Huginn! You set me up, man! You set me UP!" Caw, indeed.

And so, Patient Reader, DTs knows that he flubbed at least one station and must hear from the NREMT. The Saga Continues.

This is beginning to rival some of Snorri's lengthier works. If it keeps up, I'll end up trading in Huginn and Muninn for one of Poe's birds. "Nevermore", indeed.

Tuesday, January 09 2007
About that rant...

Those of you who are old as I may remember the Saturday Night Live of the seventies.

Cue Emily Litella: "Oh. Never mind."


Monday, January 08 2007
Secret Effin Society

When I was a kid, I distinctly remember at least once a week leaving Batman and Robin in the clutches of some super-villain. Egghead was rather lame, as was the Mad Hatter or whatever his name was, but let's say Mr. Freeze had the Dynamic Duo deposited in giant milkshake containers so that they'd freeze to death.

It was of course in my vested interest to find out what became of them in this predicament. I planned on it, hell yes. As a reminder, though, the voice of William Dozier would queue up and tell me to "tune in, same Bat-time, same Bat-channel!" Yes, yes I would. Got it.

I think that's where I got spoiled.

You see, it goes something like this:

"DTs, what are you doing here?"

"I have come to test for Paramedic," I reply.

"You have not jumped enough hoops. You may not."

"Well, GD," says DTs, who is enamored of acronyms. "I thank you for telling me this. Now, what hoops must I clear?"

"These here," he is told.

Time passes. More importantly, time passes while DTs takes a leave-of-absence from the 911 system. No volunteer runs - hence, no interesting posts, but time enough to get lead-seat calls. DTs is required (as is everyone else) to submit his calls in Paper and Electronic forms, and does so.

Time passes. "Say," asks DTs in an email, "About those hoops - by my count I believe I have jumped them, but since yours is the final say, have I done so? May I test? I ask for informational purposes only, because if in your opinion or by your count I have not hooped enough, I am prepared to do more."

MUCH time passes without a response. So DTs asks again. And again. And again. And someone else. And again. Finally, someone responds: "You have passed lo these many hoops."

Huzzah, thinks DTs. Sorry to be such a goddamn bother about it, but shit. Thanks for the response.

This is where The Voice of William Dozier might well have been expected to kick in. You know, something along the lines of, "Here's the bat-time to tune in..." or "Congrats - now, send a check for X$ to us and be ready by this date..."

No. Nothing. Very reminiscent of the bypass proposal in Hitchhiker's Guide:

"But Mr. Dent, the plans have been available in the local planning office for the last nine months."

"On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them."

"That's the display department."

"With a flashlight."

"Ah, well, the lights had probably gone."

"So had the stairs."

"But look, you found the notice, didn't you?"

"Yes," said Arthur, "yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying 'Beware of the Leopard'."

"I know these folks are busy with other things," said DTs to himself in late December, "But surely the test is nigh, and one would expect a little teensy heads-up from them. I shall investigate."

Send an email? Yeah right.

By casting about on the school's website, I was able to eventually find no information whatsoever on when the test was to come about. Checking the NREMT website, I found that the next scheduled test was 5/25/07. "That," thought DTs to himself, "Cannot be right."

Looking through the VA OEMS website I find that the test is scheduled for Jan 12 with a deadline to sign up for the damned thing of December 12.

So "Good luck!" to all who, somehow, managed to grease a palm or otherwise gain that information in a timely enough fashion to make use of it. Stop messing about on the Intertubes and go study.

She Who Must Be Obeyed spent some time pointing out the, ah, how shall we say? procedural and coordinative inadequacies that have plagued not only this institution but other departments as well. "It's a wonder," She said, "that there are any friggin' paramedics at all. Anywhere."

Indeed. Must Stop Post Here before using the I-word (incompetence), which would I expect gather negative comments.

Good EMS Reads:

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Posted Monday, February 19 2007 11:13  Site Meter