Wednesday, March 02, 2011
...It’s Carnival Time And Everybody’s Drinking Wine!
We find ourselves once again in that special time unique to our city, our much-loved and much-hated Mardi Gras season. There is much to hate about Carnival - the hundreds of thousands of tourists who all come from dry counties and immediately proceed to down “only” five or six Hurricanes or Hand Grenades; the ubiquitous smell; the “can you tell me where such-and-such is?” (two blocks, make a right); the overloaded emergency rooms, the ungodly traffic. There is also much to love about Carnival - EMS gets the absolute best spots on the parade routes (especially if you can back your truck right up to the route), being pelted with throws, Polish sausage & pizza, parade-goers offering you food from their grills, the big parties after the season is done, and of course, the “entertainment” that comes with French Quarter details. One of my favorite feelings is going 10-8 early Mardi Gras day and driving down St. Charles while everyone is setting up for parades; there’s hardly any other traffic and everyone is in a great mood. Good or bad, it’s uniquely New Orleans and the challenges it poses to EMS (and all the emergency services) make it a source of pride when we’ve handled it bravely every year.
If you’re new to NOEMS, or if you’re a veteran, here’s a few pointers (and yes, I’ve seen EMTs with years of Carnival experience who still need every one of these tips. So pay attention.):
Number ONE, first and foremost, superseding all other pointers: LISTEN TO YOUR RADIO! If you’re unfamiliar with directions in the city, let your more experienced partner listen to the SPEC channel and NOPD. There is nothing worse than being one block from an emergency and not responding because you weren’t listening!
Know where your partner is at all times! Since you’re on two different channels, he won’t know if there’s a call on your channel and you won’t know if there’s a call on his channel. Delaying response because you didn’t follow the long-established rules is unprofessional, dangerous and downright wrong. Don’t be that guy.
Do not expect free anything (except parade throws). Expect to pay full price for any snacks or drinks you buy at concession stands, even if you know for a fact that they’re offering free stuff to EMTs. Pull out your wallet to show your good intentions. If you do get anything for free, tip nicely and do not be greedy, going back for more. Otherwise, you’ll ruin it for everybody. Don’t be that guy.
If you’re on the parade route, do not scramble to get parade throws. If you catch something mid-air, great. Otherwise let the tourist or little kid have that cheap Chinese plastic thing.
When responding in elbow-to-elbow crowds, try to get a mounted officer to lead you. People won’t get out of the way for a siren, stretcher, ambulance or ASAP unit, but they will damn sure get out of the way for a horse.
Do not assume that everyone you pick up is drunk, and do not assume that the drunks you do pick up are only drunk. There are some hellacious occult injuries and medical conditions that have been missed because the crews assumed “they’re just drunk.”
And lastly, LISTEN TO YOUR RADIO!
Good luck with this year, guys. I miss you!
Posted by Sean at 12:31 PM