Confessions – #9 – Professionals at Work

I think I would be remiss if I did not confess my sins while working for the Corry Ambulance Service. Larry Wells was my best friend and he was planning on attending medical school after college. [Later, he graduated #1 in his class at med school and practiced Podiatry in our home town.] Before med school, he wanted experience treating trauma patients, so he talked me into taking first-aid classes with him and getting certified. We were hired by the local ambulance service in Corry. Larry wanted to work with patients, so I usually drove the ambulance while he was in the back with the patient. Now before your imagination gets carried away, let me tell you that the care of the patient ALWAYS came first. In between, there were lots of shenanigans.
It was easy to make Larry laugh, but for patients in pain this was no laughing matter. When we loaded patients into the ambulance, I always tried to take the top of the gurney. The patient could not see the attendant at the top of the gurney but looked down at the attendant at the foot. I would commonly make goofy faces at Larry while loading the ambulance and he would usually try to hold it back . . . only to burst out laughing.
One day we got a call to an address on Euclid Street where a woman had fallen and hurt her back. Proper procedure is to roll the patient to their side, slide a backboard under the patient and then roll the patient back upon the backboard. The backboard with the patient is then lifted upon the gurney and the patient is strapped onto the gurney. To say that the woman was a tad overweight would be a gross understatement. Let’s just say she was BIG. I do not know the tensile strength of a wooden backboard, but let’s just say that Larry and I had the ends of the backboard about a foot above the floor and the middle of the backboard was still on the floor. As we continued to lift, we heard a loud crack. I didn’t have to make a goofy face. Larry burst out laughing, which caused me to laugh as well. The woman looked mortified. What do we do? I went to the ambulance and got a second backboard and slid that under the first.
On another day we got a call to a building on the corner of West Washington and Mead Ave. Some guy was having seizures. When we arrived we climbed three flights of stairs to find a 6’5” 280 pound dude on the floor. We strapped him onto the gurney and proceeded to haul him down three flights of stairs. Nobody was laughing at this one. The stairwell had really tight turns, so we had to lift one end of the gurney to get around the corners. Halfway down, the guy started thrashing again. I suppose if I was on that gurney, I would probably flail around a bit as well.
One more story (I could share a dozen): Since I was driving most of the time, I always got a thrill about driving like a madman through traffic in the center of town with the lights flashing and the siren blaring. When else can you speed and run red lights with impunity? Corry was in the snow belt of Pennsylvania, so in the winters these rides were particularly fun. One particular winter day, Larry and I were given the task of transporting a cadaver up to Hamot Hospital in Erie. This was no emergency, but Larry and I decided we would have some fun and go with lights and siren. Larry jumped in the back with the corpse to give the impression that we had a living patient and I drove. The roads were snow covered, but we were attempting a new land speed record to Hamot. There is a straight stretch of road between Union City and Waterford and I was hammering the gas petal when I lost control. We slid on the snow COMPLETELY sideways (perpendicular to the road) for a stretch but I was able to straighten it out. When I had gotten control, I looked that the speedometer – we were still going 60 miles / hr. I don’t know how fast I was going when I lost it. Larry opened the window separating the passenger compartment from the cab and threw a roll of toilet paper at me saying, “I’m guessing you messed your pants on that one.”
Larry is the one on the ground in this shot.

Tags: No tags

Comments are closed.