There is no sound in the world like Ambulance tones... your heart immediately begins racing, your palms begin to get a little sweaty and your breathing gets shallower and quicker.... and I am getting pretty darn good at getting out the door in a very quick fashion when they go off. Today was no exception. In fact, our whole team was speedy today. All of us were at the station and the ambulance was rolling before 911 had a chance to tone us out a second time. While this is a feasible accomplishment, it doesn't happen often. None of this is to say that we are slow... 911's policy is to tone out every three minutes. And the three minutes START the very second the tone sounds. So... only one tone before radioing that we are en route is pretty good. We were on scene within minutes. The woman's jeep was there, all the doors were locked and we were getting no answer. When dealing with a 74 year old whose life line went off, this really isn't a good thing. We were where 911 told us to go. We explored all our other options. She was nowhere to be found. Our only available option left? Break down the door. Still no woman. Now we are calling 911 to verify that they truly had their act together and that they gave us the correct information. "Yes." Ok... call family... Where is this woman?!?! "Oh, she moved down the road a mile." Fantastic. We jumped back in to the ambulance and.... it wouldn't move. SO. NOT. GOOD. We jumped into our Chief's vehicle with all our necessary gear and raced toward the CORRECT scene. Hornell's ALS was en route and we would just have to use their ambulance this time.
Quick little side-note education: ALS stands for Advanced Life Support. We have a BLS (Basic Life Support) ambulance, so all our EMT's must operate at a BLS level, regardless of higher training. For many calls, we tone out an ALS unit and one of their EMT's will ride along with us. They can administer IV's and do other potentially necessary things that we can't. Follow? OK, great, back to the story.
While we headed to the right house, 911 was toning out another town. FOR. THIS. SAME. CALL. *sigh* Same name, same presenting problem, correct address. Uh, hello, guys, can we PLEASE get our act together?? Our chief radioed that we were, in fact, still responding to this call (he just told them this thirty seconds prior) and they could cancel the other town. ALS was there, we could see them pulling in the driveway. We were arriving within thirty seconds. The house was in sight. And we were still FLYING. (You know, come to think of it - another side-note here - perhaps THIS is the reason I love this job. I get to SPEED and it is LEGAL. Hmm, I will have to give this further thought. Back to the story - again.) When we got into the house, we saw that - thankfully - this woman was not on death's door. A very good thing since this call got so mucked up. That had the potential of being a major catastrophe. She was having a panic attack and what she needed more than an ambulance was a friend. I see here where our chief's wife decided that this job was not for her. It is hard dealing with the ones that called 911 just for a taxi service or for a headache or a toothache or what have you. I understand that. It is frustrating. But, every call, no matter how trivial it sounds has to be treated the same. Granted, there are calls we get that I just know, God, if You don't intervene, this will NOT be good. And there are ones like this where I hope somehow I can show just a little bit of His love and grace. Am I making a difference? I would like to think so...
But I'm getting away from my story AGAIN. The chief and I left after we got her loaded into the ambulance and we went to investigate what was going on with our ambulance... THIS is never a good sight:
After tinkering under the hood, it was discovered that there was no transmission fluid in it. Let me clarify. I was not doing any tinkering. I was standing to the side watching and holding our portable radio and looking cute as a button. That is my job. At least for this part of the adventure. Also keep in mind, this ambulance was JUST SERVICED. So, the lack of fluid was not only a problem, but a bit of a mystery. Fluid was added and still nothing. I headed back to the station with our first assistant - he was grabbing more fluid and there was no point in me being there. I stayed at the station with one of my friends and discussed 911's competence and how on earth we can avoid a debacle like this in the future and waited for news on our only ambulance. Between 911 sending us the wrong way and toning out two towns and our ambulance breaking down, it was disastrous all the way around. Current prognosis: It has been towed, problem is being assessed and we are looking into rental options. 911 has been informed that our ambulance is out of commission. Hopefully they will remember.