Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Boxing Day Carol

Not EMS related, but seasonal.

Once upon a time, long ago, there was a man named Jesus. Jesus got into a fight with another man named Santa. A great battle ensued. Santa won the battle, which ended with Jesus being squirted out of a virgin vagina as a baby. The details of this phenomenon are complicated, so don’t ask.

When Jesus grew up, he challenged Santa to a rematch. Every year since then, the ongoing rivalry has resulted in a Death Match Ultimate Cage Fight. Wagers were staked on either Jesus or Santa. Wagers can take the form of cash or prizes. Today these wagers are called Christmas Gifts, since we now live in a more enlightened society. We’re not sure who has the advantage; Jesus lives in our hearts but Santa watches us all year. Somehow this surveillance has a bearing on the outcome of the fight, perhaps by gauging support for which contestant is our favorite.

In the uncertainty of the fight’s outcome and the inherent dangers of such a bout between two powerful pugilists each year, Christmas trees were invented. These brightly decorated trees are placed near windows and doors as a hedge to protect us in case one of the Death Match fighters gets knocked out of the arena into our houses.

Santa needs milk and cookies to refresh himself between rounds. These are placed near the stockings that are hung by the chimney with care. The stockings are used as makeshift boxing gloves in case Santa’s and Jesus’ wear out. Since the Christmas trees, garlands and wreaths block other entry points to houses, Santa must use the chimney to enter. Jesus has easier access; he can just return home to our hearts and exit through any of our body orifices into our houses. Jesus eats the Christmas dinner leftovers to refresh himself. Christmas dinners are deliberately made to have an excess of food specifically for this purpose.

Since more people seem to favor Santa over Jesus, experts are predicting him as this year’s winner. Results of the fight are posted on December 26th. And this, friends, is the reason December 26th is called Boxing Day. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Professionalism 101

"Give me a drama delay."
"My patient needs to fix her hair and makeup."
"I'm 10-97."
"Yes, ma'am, yes ma'am, thank you ma'am, I'm here for you ma'am. You just let me know ma'am."
"CCCrrkkkkzz[garble]...NOPD here code three!"

Lately I've noticed a trend on the radio. In all my seventeen years of working for EMS in New Orleans, never have have I heard the amount of unnecessary chatter over the radio as is prevalent today. Oftentimes this chatter passes the bounds of steam-valve stress relief and strays into the realm of actual rudeness. In extreme circumstances, it can even create a hazard to our safety.

What do I mean? More often than not, we hear crews "walking" on each other on the radio in an effort to get their transmissions across. It is understandable that this may occasionally happen, particularly during hectic times. But I have noticed this happening far more frequently than in years past. The only factor I can attribute this to is simple discourtesy. Many times a shift, I will hear dispatch in the middle of a conversation with a crew, perhaps giving out details of a call or relaying other information, or maybe a crew asking for clarification of a location when in mid-transmission a different crew will barge in on the conversation with "put me Code 77 at Ochsner" or something to that effect. Cutting in on someone else's conversation is simply rude, particularly when it is centered on subject matter that can wait for a more appropriate time.

I am not saying that your Code 77 or your 10-10 or your on-scene delay isn't important. However there is no reason that any of these radio transmissions cannot wait for a few seconds until the current on-air discourse is finished. There are certain things that are vital to get out in a timely manner. Dispatching calls is one of them. A crew in danger is another. Requesting more units is another example. These radio transmissions must have first priority. But a large majority of our radio transmissions are simply routine status updates that should wait until whoever is on the radio finishes speaking.

"Professionalism" is an amalgam of many aspects of conduct. It is important that we treat our patients with respect and courtesy. We would never speak rudely to a physician that we were giving a report to. The mayor, the governor, the president - all deserve no less than the utmost respect when in conversation with them, regardless of our personal opinions of them. This is simply what is expected when dealing professionally with others. Should it be different when dealing with our co-workers? Courtesy, allowing others to finish their conversation, is one extremely important aspect of professionalism. Not barging in on a conversation already in progress is doubtless one of the things your mother taught you when you were a child. Though it may have been many years since Mother taught you this principle, it is no less in force today.

It is human nature that we feel that what we have to say is the most important thing at the moment. It takes practice and conscious effort to temper this impulse. Next time you need to key up your radio, take a split second to listen and determine if there is a conversation already underway. If there is, wait a few seconds if you're just giving a routine status update. No one will die if you go 10-10 a few seconds late. Lives do not hang in the balance regarding your "drama delay." If you are in a critical situation, please break in on the radio, by all means. Look at the radio conversation at the top of this post. Which do you think is the most important transmission? Which transmission is yours? Please, just be polite!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Big Cern

Giving the Francene Hair Diaries a run for their money!