Padding the Resume

We hope this tank is not empty3/12/10 - Nothing is quite so embarrassing to an ambulance crew as arriving on scene with empty oxygen tanks and/or dead equipment batteries. Gifre, the squad's previous 1st lieutenant, was frequently disappearing from the face of the earth at the time I joined the squad. It seemed nobody was keeping tabs on the ambulances in his absence.

I watched the EMTs I ran with struggle to dig spare oxygen tanks out of special-purpose jump bags when the main tank was left empty by a previous crew. I watched the attendants-in-charge curse about expired IV fluids and the absence of size 18 catheters, cravats, bandages, cold packs, splints and other common supplies that somebody had failed to restock. I saw a patina of dust and grime gather on the floors, countertops, and other horizontal surfaces. I noticed that the linen cabinets were in dire need of organizing. Jumbled linen in the cabinets spilled out onto the stretchers and crew benches and flowed into the station itself. The extra linen consisted of sheets.

The ambulances always had at least a dozen sheets on board, but never enough towels, wash cloths, or pillow cases. The medical supply closet at the station had two 33-gallon trashcans that were crammed full of mostly folded and mostly clean sheets. I made several trips to the hospital to dump all these sheets. The hospital probably didn't have to spend any of its budget for sheets that year.

One afternoon Sandi asked me to attend a meeting at the station that evening. She wanted somebody to take notes at a gathering of squad officers, the squad's attorney, and the Gifre dynasty.

Gifre had popped up again, with his parents in tow, to toss complaints and recommendations on the table. Gifre's complaints were these: The most recent election of officers was illegal because it had been conducted in the absence of a quorum. Although the point seemed lost on Gifre, the absense of a quorum was caused--at least in part--by the fact that Gifre had disappeared and his parents had resigned from the squad. When you have a small membership group, the departure of any single person makes a difference. For three people to vacate simultaneously makes a BIG difference.