The morning of Day 4 started much like the first morning, with me confused and disoriented up on the fifth floor looking at an alarm clock that said 5:15 AM and a body that said “No.” I was dragging and the project induced exhaustion was starting to wear through. Downstairs in the lobby waiting for Mark to pick me up, I sipped my coffee and wondered if I would make it all the way through the day. When at work and I feel this tired, I can just zone out in a corner after chores and I feel better.
Being a guest and having to be on top of my game meant today was going to be rough. And rough is just how I came across according to Mark.
At the Fire and Ambulance station I made another cup of coffee and settled into a green chair. Mark would later tell me I looked Knackered. If that meant anything like destroyed, he was right. I was tired.
About an hour later, out on post, Mark must have seen me nod off in the back seat. It was still dark, the light rain misting around the car, the bright green hills and warm brown houses passing by outside the tinted windows…zzz…roundabout…zzz…
It was embarrassing to say the least. 9000 miles from home and I fall asleep. Mark steered the car back to my hotel in between postings and dropped me off for a proper nap. We agreed on a time to collect me and I melted into that bed for a power nap unlike any I had had before.
And while I slept Mark did what I wanted to see him do – Refuse transport to someone who didn’t need it. One of the 2 benefits to the front loaded model and I missed it. My foot still makes contact with my back side for that.
Mark arrived at the hotel to collect a refreshed and appreciative American and we finished the shift with a few calls I have mentioned already. This afternoon showed the flexibility of the RRC and we transported more than 1 person in the car. As I think back about that experience from here in the future, I get frustrated. We just this morning were activated for a difficulty breathing that turned out to be someone looking for a ride across town. 6 people responded lights and sirens at 7 in the morning for that and the patient knew we could not tell them “No.” They described all the insurance plans they were a part of and refused to understand just how badly they were abusing an emergency service, let alone the lives they put at risk by flat out deceiving the dispatchers.
From what I have seen to this point from Mark and the NEAS, Mark could stand down the ambulance and either re-direct the person to an appropriate clinic or GP, or, if he still insists or has something else bothering him, Mark can put him in the car. 1 man and a station wagon saving the day for an overloaded system. In the end, Mark isn’t coming in that car, nor is he going to cancel me when it is realized this complaint is not worthy of a lights and sirens response.
At the end of our car shift I was a bit bummed it was over. We still had a day on the vehicle ambulance coming up and I was indeed looking forward to that, but I’ve done ambulance work, I wanted more RRC time. I wanted to jump in the car and drive it home to show my system that we don’t need a $50,000 4 wheel drive SUV to deliver care. But alas, the wheel is on the wrong side and there is a touch of water between there and home.
As we pulled away from the station and back to the house I thanked Mark for letting me rest that morning and I apologized for my lack of professionalism. He smiled and said something about he really wanted to go with me, but was able to rest on his rotations back to the station. No nap, but a chance to sit still and recover.
The evening activities were to include a nice dinner in a town called Heddon-on-the-Wall at a wonderful restaurant called the Swan. In attendance were some of the NEAS executives and my chance to ask about where the service has been and where they are going. In between questions about response times and clinical interventions we enjoyed a wonderful evening meal.
Peter Stoddart, Operations Manager and the arranger of most of my experiences in Newcastle, was in attendance as was his lovely wife. We spoke at length about event EMS at the Sunderland match the day before and I had to bend his ear about disaster and event related topics later as well. What can I say, I’m a systems and resource allocation nerd.
Paul Liversidge, one of the executive team from the NEAS, was also there to talk to me and I took advantage. I made sure to sit next to him and over a few drinks we got to talking about the future of the NEAS and the possible new role of the Fire and Rescue Services (Fire Brigade) in providing EMS. He was curious to hear of the troubles many American services experienced, are experiencing, and will soon experience. Only there it will be a blue shirt green shirt battle, instead of a blue shirt white shirt battle like in the states.
Mr Stoddart’s Left hand man, a lovely woman named Fiona in this case, was back with us after a wonderful night the night before and she is always all smiles.
Mark and Sandra somehow muscled their way into the arrangement, Mark trying to get a word in edgewise whenever I took a breath or a bite and Sandra was constantly checking to see if I was wearing white socks again. And, not surprisingly, she is happy and in the only one in focus in this photo taken by Mark.
This must have been how Mark felt when we were treated to a wonderful dinner and frank conversation with SFFD EMS Section Chief Seb Wong. He and Mark talked about ideas the SFFD had for the near future and Chief Wong listened. It was amazing to see the way he trusted Mark’s opinions and suggestions. I can only hope I made a similar impression on the NEAS team. After all, in 2 days time I was to meet with the ENTIRE administrative staff to tell them about San Francisco and the fire based model.
And I couldn’t screw that up if I tried right? Right?
And don’t worry fire buffs, that kick ass training center is coming up, here’s a photo to wet your whistle.
And those are just the appliances assigned to the training yard. The first row. Of the first yard.