Everything you read here should be considered fiction. Patient rights will always be respected. Any resemblance to persons living or not is purely coincidental.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Loaner

We have a nice ambulance.  It's a Type 1 Ford 4wd powerhouse.  She was brand new last year.  A beautiful white truck with a big box on the back.  I call her Efee.

Following our last service at the garage, I noticed oil drips on the bay floor.  No worries.  Sometimes oil gets on the frame and drips off for a while.  I checked the oil and kept an eye on it.  Every time I swept the bay there was fresh oil.  Also, the brake release handle mysteriously broke off.  Couldn't really see why it lasted as long as it did, considering the tiny chunk of plastic used as a hinge.  So the next service date came up - an oil change and fluid check.  Thad took the rig up to our garage in the morning.  Then the text message came.  The oil leak looked like an engine problem, and the rig was pulled out of service due to the brake release lever being a safety hazard.  Oy!

What to do? Apparently the powers that be decided our area needed only one ambulance, so our "spare" was taken away at the same time we got our new rig.  (Somehow, though, the fire crew managed to get all brand new F-350's for each of their upteen volunteers.  This during a "fleet reduction" year?)  Besides, they reasoned, the volunteer village department is just 5 miles down the road, so we have another backup even if one of the other 8 rigs in our department can't respond.  Sounds fine, I guess, but the volunteer rig is a tiny Type 2, about 50,000 kilometers past it's prime.  The closest relief rig to us is a 1990's era Type 3 is 30 minutes away.

Our EMS director grabbed us a loaner rig.  One of the entrance areas over an hour away had a low call volume, so they had to sacrifice.  The other Type 3 in our system (also a 1990's vintage) arrived.  I went to check it out after work.  And was shocked.

The rig is old, yes.  It's seen a lot of action, yes (over 200,000 km).  The shelves were not organized to my exacting standards, sure.  But it was filthy.  Not dirty, FILTHY!

Dirt and I are good friends.  I can deal with dirt.  But ground-in gunk consisting of sweat, vomit, pee, gore, blood, spit, you name it?  Nope.  To be fair, the rails and action area were in decent shape.  But I could see mouse droppings in one of the cabinets.  The bench should have been blue, but was instead a brownish color.  The white vinyl padding was grey.  I grabbed disinfectant and got to work.  Ms. Medic was on duty and stopped by.  We scrubbed hard for over an hour and got the rig in semi-clean shape.  Mr. Medic dropped in and we ran the inventory list.  Expired meds, expired equipment, etc. piled outside the back doors.  I ran up to the wash bay and pressure washed the outside clean.  Together we put in about 8 man hours just to get the newly dubbed "Mini Winnie" in decent enough condition to go on a run.

And run we did.  We were taking a rule-out cardiac to the community hospital and were about 5 miles out of town when I smelled the exhaust fumes.  Mr. Medic told me this was a known problem.  I thought about setting up welfare checks, but instead opened the side window and turned on the air.  It didn't smell as bad for the rest of the ride, but I checked Mr. Medic's LOC several times just in case.

After every run I do my cleaning, and find more filth to scrape away.

I now feel spoiled with our shiny Type 1.  I just hope we get it back soon.

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