My service told me that I would have at least six months before I was cleared to work as a solo medic. With the shortages, I had a feeling that it wouldn't take that long.
Yesterday I showed up for work and my regular partner wasn't there. I usually show up 15-20 minutes early so I can get things done and not be in a huge hurry. Drink a little coffee, talk to the crew that is going home, that kind of thing. At 2 minutes till 7, in walks this brand new medic. I know her, but I've never worked with or around her. I've not had my patch for even 3 months yet, she has had hers about a week.
"You lost?" I ask.
"Nope, I'm working with you." she replies. Oh Shit.
About this time the station phone rings and I go to answer it. It's my supervisor and he's telling me what I just found out. Apparently 2 other medics had called out sick at the last minute and he couldn't get it covered with anyone but her. My partner got moved to another truck to work with a Basic EMT. He goes into his "pep talk" saying that I will be fine and that I am a lot stronger medic than I give myself credit for. Sheepishly I say OK and hang up the phone.
We get all the station duties done and go to breakfast. No calls yet. Me and Partner For the Day make small talk and I take a little nap in the recliner. I wake up and get some lunch. Still no calls.
My first call as a cleared solo medic was the most mundane that comes. A routine transfer from a nursing home to a doctors office, then wait and return. The next call was for a possible suicide. We staged for about 2 hours and then got cancelled by the cops, I never found out what happened on that one. We then went and got supper and back to the station.
The tones went off again for an allergic reaction, bee sting. The first responders were giving us a short report while we were en route and it sounded like a decent call. We get there and found out differently. He was having a reaction, but nothing "life threatening". A little O2 and benadryl and he was fine, we transported him to the local ED anyway.
My supervisor was at the hospital and about 45 minutes later we finally left. He had to give us a big talk and tell us all about how it used to be "in the old days". Don't get me wrong, I was raised to respect my elders and I do respect him for his age, station and experience. But in the year and a half that I have worked for him, I have heard the same speech at least 20 times.
On the way back we get another call, a stroke. The first responders on that side of the county were also saying that it was going to be a "load and go". I respect these first responders a little more, as they have proved their credibility to me time and time again. I step a little harder on the go-pedal and we eventually get there.
They were right, again. The patient was having an active stroke with symptoms starting 30 minutes prior. Complete left sided weakness, facial drooping, unequal pupils, incontinence and a lot of confusion. That squad functions at the Intermediate level and already had an IV in place, so that was one thing less to do. This was Partner For the Day's call so I let her run it. We got him loaded and finished assessing him and I asked her what else she wanted. "To get to the hospital" she replied. I agreed and down the road we went.
Half-way there she steps up between the seats and tells me all she had done and asked me what else? I tell her a few little things and then hand her the phone to call the Big City ED and tell them what we are coming with. She looks a little skeptical but does a good job overall.
Afterwards we are talking over the last 2 calls and she is asking me all kinds of questions and I actually have the answers. It felt good to help someone else. Not sure if she will be back next shift or who will be there when I walk through the door. But I have new confidence that I can get the job done.