Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Today I am going to take the opportunity to answer a some of the questions that I frequently get asked as a Paramedic. I know that doesn't really seem to have anything to do with cooking but stick with me, in case you haven't noticed I can relate ANYTHING to cooking and/or food.

Do you drive the ambulance?

Yes I do. If I am riding with another Paramedic then we alternate driving and taking care of the Patient. If I am riding with a Basic or Intermediate EMT it depends on what is wrong with the Patient.

What is the difference between a Paramedic and an EMT?

Technically we are all EMT's. There are 3 levels. A basic EMT (or EMT-B) They can do CPR, breathe for you if you have stopped,stop bleeding, help you if you are choking,secure your C-spine (to prevent further injury), splint broken bones,give Oxygen, use an Automatic External Defibrillator(AED) and basically help out the Paramedic. It is often said," Paramedic save lives and Basics save Paramedics." This is often true but even more important is that those basic skills are very important, immediate life sustaining things that must be done for a Patient and without those, all other treatment by a paramedic or even a doctor is not going to be of help.

Intermediate EMT's (EMT-I) can do all of the things that a EMT-B can do and they can also start IV's, Intubate (place a tube in your airway to more effectively breathe for you) and give certain medications.

A Paramedic does all of the things a EMT-B and EMT-I can do and they can use a Manual defibrillator (and treat several different cardiac rhythms not just a cardiac arrest), Give a wide variety of medications and do a few other advanced procedures such as a tracheostomy. Though the EMT-B's and EMT-I's can do a lot of skills before a Paramedic gets there. Once we are on scene though, they can/do all the same things buy we are ultimately responsible for the care of the Patient and make the decisions.

Why does the Fire Dept come when I call for an ambulance?

There are a few reasons for this. Usually the Fire Departments can be there faster than an ambulance because the are located IN the community. There are considerably less ambulances than Fire stations. Often the nearest ambulance may be coming from the hospital or even the other side of the county. At least one if not several of the Fireman that respond to a call will be a EMT-B and like I said before can perform basic life-saving skills. They also respond to Motor vehicle crashes (MVC) in case of the need too extricate people (Jaws of life) from the vehicles if needed, control any fluids leaking, put out any potential fires and just generally make it safe for us to do our job around unstable cars and/or other dangerous things. They are also a huge help to us and often help with lifting and sometimes ride in to the hospital with us for an "extra set of hands" when a Patient is very unstable. Obviously they will be there if there is any potential for fire or hazardous chemicals or materials. As paramedic we get just basic knowledge of these things and I promise you I will NOT be running into a burning building. That's why I am a Paramedic and NOT a Fireman!

What is the worst thing you have ever seen?

The worst thing I have ever seen was a pedestrian being struck by a car. When I say I have seen it, I mean I actually saw it happen. I also saw that it was going to happen and was not able to do anything to prevent it. Though the patients injuries were serious I have seen worse. The "worst" part was the trauma of witnessing it. It definitely took me a few seconds to get my bearings and be able to think straight to do the things I needed to. Not to mention that I already had a Patient in my ambulance. Though I began treating the Patient I had to wait for another ambulance to come. That situation gave me a little perspective on how long the wait seems.

Do you use turn on the lights and sirens just to get through intersections? and I also get "I have seen them go through and intersection and then turn them off."

I promise you that if we are using lights and sirens we are going to a call or to the hospital. In fact we often don't use them going to and from a call. The dispatcher codes our calls with the information they are given by the caller and they tell us if we should be driving "emergency traffic." We have many calls that are not " immediately life-threatening" Even calls that are ,once we begin treating the patient we can sometimes relieve the life-threat and take them to the hospital at a safer speed.

Every time we turn on the lights and sirens we are putting not only the general public in danger but ourselves (and the Patient) as well. We all have families of our own and though we do this job because we love helping other people. Our #1 priority is to go home to our loved ones at then end of the day.

You may see an ambulance come screaming down the roadway and then once they pass you, turn off the lights and siren. This can happen for a wide variety of reasons. We may have been cancelled from the call. More information about the nature of the call may have been obtained (by the 911 operator or perhaps the Fire Dept that is already on scene). Sometimes the scene is not safe for us to enter and we must wait for the Police to get there first or another ambulance may have been closer to a call. We also sometimes use lights and sirens for safety as we may need to cross heavy traffic (that often is paying attention to what is going on at the scene) when we are leaving a scene or if we are going in one direction and we get a call that is in the opposite direction and we need to make a U turn or other unexpected lane change or move.

But, my all time favorite question is ... Do you get a lunch break?

NO ,WE DON'T! We grab food whenever we get a chance and often eat it going down the road. If we do make it inside a restaurant and order food we may get a call as we are taking our first bite (or even before we get it) and either we grab it and take it with us (often to be eaten cold hours later) or leave without it. Some days we are lucky and may have an extended time to sit and eat but not often. It is for this reason that you may see us shifting around impatiently while waiting in a line at Mikey D's or gobbling down our food at a pace that is sure to cause indigestion later.

It's for this reason that I usually try to pack at least part of my food or some snacks. A busy 12 hour shift is a long time to go on a quick cup of bad coffee and a package of Nabs. Not to mention a constant diet of fast food reeks havoc on the waistline. If I have a sandwich, some fruits, veggies or left overs. I can grab them (and scarf them down quickly) between calls to try to maintain some semblance of a healthy diet. Though storage and maintaining food at a safe temperature poses a challenge, especially on very hot days.

But the BEST days are when we happen to be at the Fire Department at mealtime and the firemen are kind enough to ask us to join them. Those firemen are my FAVORITE! (Yes, I am sucking up. Stupid I am not. I know some of them read this.) Cumberland county has some great cooks posing as fireman. I have shared "cooking talk" with many and I have given and received advice.

I have eaten many meals prepared by firemen. Being that we are in the South, I find that most firemen make really great traditional southern food. Stick to your ribs, comfort food. I have had fabulous chicken and pastry, meatloaf , fried chicken, chili and Lasangna just to name a few.

But station #7 is the "home" of a rather talented cook/chef. (Now guys ...don't get offended you ALL are great cooks) If you are not familiar with the North side of Fayetteville you may not even notice Fire Station #7 on Stacey Weaver. The station looks very much like many of the houses in the neighborhood. But I am sure if you live close by you have seen the doors open up and the trucks rolling out. I am also guessing once or twice you have been woken up by the sirens. If you happen to go by at dinner time and Firefighter Meece is on shift you are likely to smell something yummy coming from the kitchen.

He and I have talked food many times but a few months ago I got the pleasure of actually sampling some of his handiwork. I walked into the station as the firemen were sitting down to dinner. I was warmly greeted by all and invited to join them. "Oh man I just ate something" was my reply. But then I walked into the kitchen and spotted something that looked WAY to good to pass up. When I tasted it I was SO glad that I didn't. I left the station that day VERY full!

He called it a Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwich. That is exactly what it is but I think it needs a more fitting name. Hmmmm...

I asked him for a "recipe" for this and he rattled off some ingredients and basic instructions but no real recipe. Now I know how people feel when they ask me about a dish I made. So this is my interpretation of his sandwich I think it's pretty close. The one thing that I think is a MUST for this is really good bread. He used "everything" Ciabatta bread (from Walmart) and I would really recommend that. It has garlic, poppy-seeds, sesame seeds along with some other stuff.

Lucky #7 Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwich

1 loaf Crusty bread
1lb chicken breast pounded 1/4-1/2 inch
Basic Chicken Breader (I used House of Autry)
1TBS Citrus Grill seasoning
1 tsp paprika (smoked is nice)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 egg lightly beaten
1 Tbs milk
8 oz provolone or Swiss cheese
8 oz sliced deli ham
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1Tbs olive oil

Beat egg lightly with milk in a shallow dish. In another shallow dish, combine chicken breader, citrus seasoning, salt, pepper and paprika. Dip chicken in egg mixture then dredge in breader mixture. Heat oil in large skillet. Fry chicken in oil for aprox 3 mins on each side till chicken is cooked through and it is golden brown. Drain on Paper towel. Slice bread in half. Place bread cut side up a on baking sheet. Place chicken on one half and top with ham and cheese. Lightly brush other half with olive oil. Place under broiler for aprox 2 mins until cheese is melted and bread is lightly browned. Place two halves together and serve immediately. Serves 4-6

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