On the Way to Paramedic in Northern VA

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Saturday, March 03 2007
Double-Plus Unclear

My bad. Apologies to those who left comments to the previous post.

I meant to mention that there are two two-part stations which need retesting, so a little soul-searching and calendar-checking needs to happen in the next few weeks.

I suppose the reason it took so long to admit to needing the retests was, in the Escher-Place that is the Mind of DTs, it is not entirely his fault.

'Course it is. But how, How to convey that feeling without sounding like a whiny biatch? Best perhaps to tell the story.

To those who have never done an NREMT Practicals test, think "Job Interview." Think of your worst job interview ever, the kind where you walk into the room and the interviewing guy looks at you, then presses an intercom button. "Miss Pertbottom, please tell the CEO I'll be joining him in a few moments." He turns to you and says, "So. Tell me all about yourself."

Ah, right.

"Well, DTs," you say placing hands on hips, "If you think there is the slightest chance your retest requirements are not your fault, why didn't you say so to someone at the time?"

Suffice it to say that the NREMT has "A Procedure" for handling Those Who Would Protest, as efficient and welcoming as is their every other contact with humans, involving something about "drumhead courts-martial" and "high justice" and some other damn things I don't understand. It is unpleasant, one gathers, which is not surprising from an organization which... but let's not go there.

So, the two stations.

Station the First, believe it or not: IV Therapies. DTs performed this station perfectly using the artificial arm. The artificial arm is a lump of plastic molded to look like Keith Richards' forearm, complete with a gnarled riverbed of mangled flesh over each of the artificial veins embedded in it. One spikes a bag of saline, cleanses a site on said arm, starts a line, adjusts flow and then administers a drug based on a mini-scenario given by the tester. Easy stuff, and the scenario is something along the lines of, "Your patient is dying of Blight's Disease and you must administer the proper medication." There, before you, is a big 1940's syringe actually labelled "Blight's Disease Antidote" so you clean a medi-port, clear the air, and dump that in.


"How," you ask skeptically, "Did you fail that one, O DTs?"

Easy - don't use a tourniquet. The arms are so wasted, finding a vein is ridiculous. DTs finishes the entire station and notices that a tourniquet was not used. BUT, he got the line. And in the printed NREMT Station Requirements, which lists Things Which Must Happen Or You Fail, and Things Which Must Not Happen Or You Fail, nowhere does it address the use of a tourniquet. DTs mentions this to the examiner, who smirked disbelievingly. Somehow, the very young lady administering the station had the idea that Proper People Use Tourniquets. Might have grown up seeing posters like: "Girls: Make Him Use A Tourniquet.", and "You Can't See Veins: Use Tourniquets". But really, baby, it felt better without... shut up, DTs.

And, not a problem, except the retest (at a different station site in the same building, with a different examiner) goes something like this:

"Hello, welcome to the IV station. My name is Bob Bingfordick. Please step outside."

"May one ask why?"

"The last several candidates have complained that there's something wrong with the fake IV arm and I need to test it."

"Oh. Sure. No problem."

Ten minutes pass.

"Come on back in here, DTs, and begin your test," says Bob, looking at his watch.

DTs tries for a minute to get flash. It is no-go.

"Ok," says DTs, "I'm not getting flash here - I'm going to verbalize flash instead."

"You may not," says Bob. "If you don't get flash, you can't administer meds."

"Excuse me sir, but look at your sheet," says DTs. "It says, Candidate may verbalize flash."

"You may not," says Bob. "If you don't get flash, you can't administer meds. And," looking at his watch, "Your time is up."

"Thank you, sir" says DTs on the outside.

Station the Second: Cardiology. Yes, an important station.

Here, DTs' Inner Noobie shined through. I used to hate running RNs or retired MDs as patients because of this self-doubt, and thought I had rid myself of it. Found out I was wrong when the examiner introduced himself - and went on about his own credentials. This should be illegal:

"Hello. I am retired astronaut Major General "Bark" Barkington, Chief of Complicated Surgery at Mother Teresa Memorial Hospital, which I founded, and where I spent the last twelve weeks training their Total Thoracic Replacement Team in my own techniques. I also invented penicillin. And the Salk vaccine, but Jonas was feeling depressed that day so I tossed that to him instead of claiming it as my own. I have to perform in-utero brain surgery in half an hour, so let's begin."

This guy was Buckaroo Bonzai without the "Wherever you go, there you are" vibe.

In fact, during that whole "Here's who I am speech", what DTs heard was Dustin Hoffman wearing a floppy hat and long mustachios in Hook:

"And who here doesn't belong? Someone here does not belong. I will weed you out."

Gulp. And so it went, as self-fulfilling a prophecy as any ever uttered.

So there, that's why. It's wonderful when Areas For DTs Improvement are so obvious.

Good EMS Reads:

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Posted Sunday, April 08 2007 13:20  Site Meter