I posted a stub a while ago and just have been slack in writing the post. Unfortunately when I wrote the stub I had this grand post in mind, but now that I write it it sounds kinda dull. My apologies.
The service I work at covers over 2800 square miles of Western Maine and today I was on shift at the centrally located base, the one that historically has been the crutch for the system. It was a beautiful drive north from the homestead, the fall foliage has more or less peaked and the leaves are starting to fade to dull colors and soon they will fall from the trees altogether. A routine check of the ambulance was completed and off we went to the hospital where I had the supreme pleasure of being an evaluator for a disaster drill. The event was overly unremarkable with the general conclusion being that we need to communicate better. Strange how this is a recurring theme but nothing is ever done to remedy the situation.
Early in the afternoon my partner and I returned to our base for what I hoped would be an uneventful afternoon. My shift was to end at 1800 hours and it would have been entirely peaceful but one of our northern crews was dispatched to pick up an injured hiker on a rough mountain trail and given our position in the middle of the county we moved north to cover their station while they were out. Now, these back country rescues can be short & sweet or they can be long & complicated requiring many people to help move the patient. Unfortunately this particular resue proved to be the latter.
The base that I was working at is about 35 miles from the homestead, while not a particularly long commute is is through some rather rural country. After moving north we were then an additional 20 miles northeast of our assigned base. I never really felt this way about the region before, perhaps now it has something to do with spending the last ten months living in the city, but there are days when the three northern bases each seem to be a remote outpost. Upon arrival at the northeastern base I felt a bit as though I were arriving at the basecamp of a remote operation.
Prior to leaving our base my partner and I stocked up on a few items we might need should we find ourselves off the road somewhere- cold weather gear, water, energy bars and the like. While moving toward this other base to cover we stopped at one of VERY few grocery stores to grab a bite to eat and then we proceeded to the base. We checked in with the rescue crew to see if anything was needed and then settled in for what we hoped would be a short time. Upon learning that in addition to the northeastern mountain rescue apparently the northwestern base also had a mountain rescue going on. This left my partner and I to cover the majority of the service area. Thankfully one other medic dispatched to the rescue was relieved of her duties by a medic with back-country/wilderness training, this allowed her and a firefighter to cover the northeastern base while I was able to move back to my base with my partner. Granted this was spreading the system a bit thin but sometimes you need to do what you need to do. Fortunately my base closes its operations at 1800 hours each day so because of this we were able to eventually free up more personnel to better cover the region, however shortly after 1800 hours a call came in and the other crew made up of my partner and the other medic responded to a call approximately 45 miles away for a patient bleeding from the face after a motor vehicle accident. Given that my base shut down at 1800 the other medic elected to respond with my partner and because of the timing I remained at the base with the firefighter.
We have some great first responder/QRS agencies in this region and we have a couple that are, well, less than stellar. The crew responding to the MVC was 30 miles in to their response when a first responder came over the air advising that the patient wishes to sign a refusal and that they, the crew of a Maine EMS licensed first responder service would be standing by waiting for the arrival of the ambulance. At this point I really wished I could be a fly on the wall of the cab of the ambulance to hear the profanity that I knew must be escaping the mouth of the medic, but she managed to gently remind them that they were more than capable of obtaining a refusal signature. Fortunately for me they were able to return to the base and I was able to go home only two hours after the scheduled end of my shift. By the days end I had racked up more than 175 miles just moving from one facility to another, not even taking in to consideration the handful of rugby related calls I responded to during the day. we cover a big area, we cover a very rural, we cover a rather economically depressed area. There are days when I love it and there are days when I don't like it so much, but still, I wouldn't have it any other way.