Here on the band-aid brigade we like to remember mistakes that could have had bad outcomes, but didn’t. We call this an “oops” list. My favourite oops happened this semester. I was on shift with Nursing Programme Partner, a third band-aid brigader, and a couple ride alongs from the EMT-Basic class. A full house in our EMS closet, er office.

We get paged for “male experiencing chest pain, palpitations, and shortness of breath.” City Fire is dispatched simultaneously per the EMD card. We sprint out to the gutless wonder, about 150 metres from our office. NPP is driving. I’m riding shotgun to run the lights and air-horn. I yell back to the ride alongs “let’s go, let’s go.” NPP starts to peel out of the driveway, thinking I was talking to her. While one of the ride alongs is still getting in the van. Nearly tumbling the ground as they try to step on the now moving running board. F. Do we have multiple patients now? No. Ride along climbs in, adrenaline pumping at the appropriate level now.


Appendix A: the actual call

The actual call could have been interesting. While a young male with chest pain screams “anxiety” to me, most young males aren’t seeing a cardiologist and taking beta-blockers for a consistent disrhytmia and a family history of conduction disorders.

HR 15o taken manually. 324mg ASA PO. O2 @ 15 lpm by NRB. City Fire calls and asks if we want them to come in code-3 – “uh, yeah” I communicate to NPP with with the flick of an eyebrow.

The City Fire medics appear, clearly disappointed that their dinner/movie/Halo tourney was interrupted for this. I give my hand-off to the Medic, who has us put the pt on City Fire’s monitor. Sinus tac. The Medic zeroes in quickly on a diagnosis of anxiety. But the pt wants to go to Level-2 Regional Medical Centre just down the street. I’m pretty sure after they got him in the Rescue that they started 12’s bilaterally just because he annoyed them.

I really wish band-aid brigade could do some Intermediate interventions. It would help us rule out a lot of things City Fire has to come for. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that we aren’t trusted. Case in point below.

Appendix B: playing hookie
I keep a high GPA. That’s because I go to class. Consistently. But a couple weeks ago I played hookie. That’s right – I’ve been in college for 5 years and this was the first time I consciously decided not to go to class. *le gasp*

Simmer down. I went to an EMS conference with NPP. I learned more there than I would have in class anyway. We talked to some people with LifeFlight.

Why does HEMS have such a visceral, romantic appeal? I think it’s because it’s the closest you can get to being a superhero – actually flying in to save the day. The flight nurse we talked to offered as some posters that had their transport criteria and LZ protocols on them. We squealed with glee, taking copies for bedrooms (nerd alert), and one for the band-aid brigade office. The flight nurse informs us that this might actually come in handy. Although Level-2 Regional Medical Centre is two blocks away, “in the event of an MCI,” he informs us that he “might be flying patients to other medical centres in the state.” We ooh and ahh at the prospect, and take the HEMS poster back to our EMS director who happens to be at the conference with us. Our director (let’s call him “Fearless Leader”) is generally a nice guy, but sometimes he’s a little short with us. Especially via e-mail. The follow up conversation with our new “toy” (the poster) went something like this:

NA and NPP: FL, FL! Looks what we got! Now can land a helicopter if something terrible ever happens! Hoo-rah!

FL: You guys realise you won’t ever do that. The cops will.

NA and NPP: *whimper*

You might as well have told us there was no Santa Clause.

Another (more serious) example of not being trusted. For any “difficulty breathing” dispatch, City Fire is dispatched simultaneously. Unfortunately, this encompasses every college aged girl who ever has a panic attack. And we can’t tell City Fire to cancel and stay at the Station to finish their movie.

Oh well. One day I’ll get to do real EMS and really help people.

Mat Goebel
Resident Physician

My research interests include EMS, EKG, STEMI, cybersecurity, and NLP.