Saturday, July 2, 2011

Still Trudging Onward

Hello Everyone.

Wow, I haven't posted since February!  Really?  It CAN'T have been that long!!!  I am sorry.

I have to say, some of you have been so kind lately as to send me gentle nudges about updating.   Thanks for that.  The texts, the phone calls, the e-mails and letters all do encourage me so much and I cannot tell you how much I appreciate that you all have not given up on me.  I haven't either.

So what's new?

First, I am still fighting depression.  Sometimes I think I am winning and other times I want to crawl into bed and never come out.  But I keep plugging at it.  It cannot last forever.   Quite honestly one of my big struggles is my marriage.  I have been married nearly 21 years and I have been very unhappy within that for at least 12 of them.  I won't go into details because I don't think it is appropriate to do so, but it is a huge contributor to the depression.

Next:  I finally got the phone call I had been waiting for for over a year.   While having lunch with a very close friend my cell phone rang and it was a number I did not recognize.  I answered and the call went something like this:


Hello, is this "Hot Flash"? 


Hi, this is (fill in the blank) from Rural Metro Ambulance.  I am calling because some time ago you applied for an EMT-Basic position.  Are you still interested?

(I could hardly contain my enthusiasm at this point!)

Not just yes but HECK yes!! 

From there arrangements were made for me to come in for an interview.  This would consist of a written exam, a practical exam and a panel interview with three evaluators.  I had two weeks to prepare.  My close friend was as ecstatic as I was.   He is a retired firefighter paramedic and has talked with me at length about my goals and dreams.  We hugged and laughed and he gave me some encouragement and advice before we parted and I went back to work for the afternoon.

I could not stop thinking about how long I had waited for this opportunity and how badly I wanted the job.  But at the same time, I had never interviewed for an EMS position before.  I did not really know what to expect or how best to prepare myself.  In addition, this all happened at the BUSIEST time of year for me at work.  I did not know how I was going to pull this off but I told myself... "You have to just do it. It's not like someone is going to call 911 and you will be able to say, 'call back later, I'm busy'!"

Over the next two weeks I did not get much time to study or prepare and I was feeling very rusty.  I have been out of school for over a year and the only practice I have had has been at OTEP classes (Ongoing training that occurs monthly).  Finally the day of the interview arrived.

I walked in to the office about ten minutes early and was told to take a seat.  I waited patiently as assorted EMT's and Paramedics passed through the small office on their way into work.    Being shy was going to get me no where and I knew it so I made a point of saying hello or good morning to each one.  Most said hello or good morning back but a couple actually took the time to have a small conversation with me and wished me luck.  That was a nice start.

Finally it was my turn to go back and start this process.  I was taken to a large table in a meeting room where there were three other candidates all working on their written exams.  One was placed in front of me and I was directed to start whenever I was ready.   The exam was challenging.  I know that I know what I am supposed to, yet it seemed daunting.   I have no idea how I did on that exam but the last question was the worst.  It was something along the lines of, "Do you feel this exam was an accurate assessment of your skills and knowledge?"   How the heck should I answer THAT?   If I say yes and I did terribly then I am saying I suck.   If I say no I am being critical of their selection process.   Finally I decided to say yes.  It asked good questions, none were surprises.  How could I answer any other way?

I was supposed to go from the written exam to the oral board.  I was wishing I could do the practical exam first.  That is what is most threatening to me.  When I have been on a run, I just responded.  I don't think about it.. I react and do what I am trained to do.   When it is an evaluation... I get stuck in my head.  I worry about if I am doing it right.   If I could just get this out of the way I could relax for the oral boards.   But that is not how it was set up.   As I waited I tried to convince myself that it would be a piece of cake.  I knew my stuff and all I had to do was make it real in my head.  Finally someone came into the room and called a name.  It was the name of the person who had last headed out of the room for the oral boards (a fellow EMT from my class).   I told the RM employee that the other person was in the oral board interview.  He looked at me and said, "Well then, you must be "HotFlash".  I was the only female applicant there so it was a no brainer.  I nodded affirmatively and he said,  "Then you are the next lucky contestant."

I followed him to another room.  He was rather laid back in his demeanor and made me feel fairly comfortable right away.  He told me to look over what equipment was set out for the scenario and told me that everything I would need should be there already.  When I had glanced over what was where, he asked if I was ready to begin.   I noticed upon glancing through things that there were only extra large gloves.  I wear smalls.  Extra large gloves would leave a full inch of empty finger above the tips of mine.  That makes it difficult to work.   I asked if they had any smaller gloves.  He said there should be but then was unable to produce them.  He searched for quite a while and I said a few minutes into it not to worry, I would make do.  He kept trying and I felt uncomfortable that I was making things difficult.  Finally he decided to let me make do with the extra larges.

He told me what the scenario was.   A call had come in for a fiftyfour y/o male who had collapsed while watching television.  No other information.

I arrived on scene, made sure the scene was safe and put my gloves on as I verbalized it to be so and BSI (body substance isolation measures).  Upon entering the room a care giver was performing cpr on the patient who was apparently in full cardiac arrest.  I observed the cpr being given as adequate as I obtained a brief history from the caregiver and I directed my ghost engine crew to take over cpr and initiate oxygen therapy with a bvm (bag valve mask).  I requested ALS (Advanced Life Support) backup and then I discovered there was no remarkable history, the patient was on blood pressure medications and cpr had been underway for approximately five minutes since the patient collapsed with out warning.  I prepared the AED (automated external defibrillator) as I was listening and questioning the caregiver.    Frustratingly the AED model available to me was not one I was familiar with and it felt like I was taking forever to figure out how to set it up properly.  I could not seem to figure out where to plug the wires in.  It probably only took me a few seconds but I still felt awkward and I commented that I was not familiar with that model.  Finally I figured it out, the patient was analyzed, shock was advised and I delivered it.   The patient still had no pulse and CPR was continued for another two minutes.  I reanalyzed, reshocked and continued cpr again and one more time after that.  At some point during the scenario I was told that the patient was not getting adequate ventilation and I then placed an oral airway adjunct and continued treating my patient.   Before long, the evaluator thanked me and told me that despite my best efforts the patient didn't make it.  He asked me if I had any questions.  I asked about the on the job training that I was told would happen if I was hired.  He told me what it consisted of and expressed his own disappointment that it was not more extensive.  I did not know what to say to that.  Finally I asked, "how did I do?"   It was a long shot but I thought I would try anyway lol.  He just smiled and said, "Well, you made it through."  He had no intentions of telling me one way or the other.  Oh well.  I tried. :)  I thanked him and he walked me back to wait for the oral boards.

My turn came soon enough.  I entered feeling much more calm than I would have had the order been reversed.  The worst of it was out of the way as far as I was concerned.  I entered the room and there was a long table with three men sitting on one side and a seat for me on the other.  I said hello and introduced myself, shaking hands with each and was directed to sit.  I did.  The proceeded to ask me questions.  Standards like, "tell us about yourself," and "why do you want to work for Rural Metro Ambulance?" and scenario based questions such as, "You and your partner are transporting a non-critical patient and your partner is driving hard and fast, what do you do?"   Another question was,  "you are dispatched to the scene of a MVA (motor vehicle accident) and arrive to find a compact car with moderate front end damage and a 69 year old woman trapped in the driver's seat.  As you approach the fire chief tells you what has happened and that you will not need your back board so you can just put it back.  What do you do?"

I don't know if I answered all the questions the way they had been looking for me to but I did the best I could and I left feeling pretty good about the interview as well.   The entire time I was there was about two hours and in that time I never saw another female applicant.  I know one of my friends and fellow EMT classmates had an interview later that afternoon so there were at least two of us.   I later found out she never saw another female applicant either.

Now came the hardest part of all.  Hurry up and wait.  My interview was on a Tuesday and I did not hear back until nine days later.  It came in the form of a letter.  I knew before I opened it that it could not be good news.  I did not get hired and neither did either of my two fellow EMT classmates.  I was disappointed but not upset.  I am not giving up.

I still maintain that God did not clear the obstacles he did for me to be trained for me to do nothing with it.  Some day, some where I will get my chance to shine.  I was born to do this and I have no doubts about that.  Grant me patience Lord, but please hurry.

Stay safe my friends.

Hotflash out.