I rode in an ambulance for the first time a few weeks ago.
It was my clinical ride-along for the EMT class I’m taking, and it was amazing. A lot of the details can’t be shared on a blog, not unless I want to get sued. A lot of my feelings don’t belong on a public blog, not when I’ve fought hard to keep from teenage-angst-ifying it. Suffice it to say, it’s been a rough few months since the Peace Corps sent me home, and I’ve spent a lot of that time feeling pretty lost. This ambulance shift wasn’t a magic cure by any means, but it was a pretty incredible (if very LONG) night.
Perhaps the best moment came at about 3 pm. It’d been a slow afternoon, which is odd for a Saturday in Reno. I’d had plenty of time to study, and our calls had been rather few and far between.
Then dispatch hailed us. Priority 1 patient, we were told. Which means Hurry.
So we did. Lights and siren and all. Racing down the highway, cars pulling out of our way, people staring as we passed.
That part was pretty cool. But you know what was cooler? The fact that someone called us because she needed medical care, and we could go. Just like that. Minutes after her call, we were on scene, with oxygen and IVs and heart monitors and a vehicle that could transport her to the hospital if she needed.
I’ve never really thought before about how amazing that is.
Then, a week ago, I had to get my appendix out. It was pretty strange, one of those moments you never think will happen to you. And after stalling an embarrassingly long period of time because, well, I’m me, I went to the ER. Five minutes later, a nurse was examining me. Fifteen minutes later, they were scanning me, and first thing the next morning, I was in surgery. It’s pretty astounding, especially when I think that I was sent home from Morocco a few months ago partially because I lived too far from medical care.
There are a lot of things wrong with the US health care system, but you gotta admit, lights and sirens and available ERs and immediate surgery… it’s really cool. And amidst all my groaning about bed rest (ugh!) and the bills that I’m sure are coming, it’s good to remember that. Every time bending over makes me wince, I remember, and I’m thankful.