I felt apprehensive about the ride along and it was building inside me. I would think about the slight possibility of no calls being dispatched or being left alone with two strangers. This actually happened once to my friend who ended up hours on a ride along with no one to call. What if I had the urge to go to the bathroom? Would the paramedics get dispatched while I was in the bathroom? Would I be left alone, or would they have to leave? And if so, the paramedics would have to give the call to another LifeLine because I would be taking too long, that the paramedics would not leave me there alone. My ride along with LifeLine Paramedics was a twelve-hour event that gave me a perspective/perceiving, experience, and knowledge. By the end of my ride along, I felt empowered to pursue my dreams.
During the end of spring in mid-May, the hot, dazing sun peaked through the mountains and hills of the morning sky, then in the afternoon beaming its rays of blazing heat in the small town community of Ojai Valley. I perceived the fresh warm air out the opened window waiting for a dispatch, as I watched cars passing by Ventura Avenue heading to their unknown destination. Before arriving that morning, the wind and the clouds were grey and dewy, as if it might rain that day. Yet, again, we were near the end of spring, and closely encountering the hot summer days. I had woken up that morning, with expectations of having to see the paramedics help someone in need. Hoping that by the end of the ride along I would still be wanting to join this exhilarating medical job that paramedics get to do such as assessing human beings in need of help, and having the chance to save lives. By the time I was in the car heading to Ojai to the LifeLine housing for paramedics on shifts (on route all 24 or more hours), it had seemed the day was starting out with a slow time consuming pace. Around six minutes later I was behind the Miramonte Quick Clean laundromat where the housing for staff members were awaiting to start their day. I was going to be with John and Kyle, the paramedics that were on duty that day (for my twelve hour ride along), which started from 8 a.m. in the cloudy cold morning to the end by sun down and cool breezy at 8 p.m. at night. After meeting the two paramedics I would be with all day, I was greeted by other EMTs/Paramedics that were getting off duty/heading to a different location. As we all decided to head inside the small house, it seemed as if only men had lived there, yet the bathroom had a touch of feminine vibe due to the fragrance of lavender and cleanliness. There I was, sitting on the cozy bear brown chair that seemed to suck you in, and leaving you the feeling that it would never let you off, yet I felt comfortable. Passing the time as boredom had slapped into my brain, I began to wait for a dispatch. Due to the silence, and awkwardness in the room, everyone seemed to drift off by watching their phone, or the television that was on a cooking show channel.
Sometimes the location of an experience changes everything about what you know for the future. As I watched my step, grasping the side of the doors that helped me elevate myself into the back of the ambulance, I felt my excitement come to life. I was smiling wide enough that I realized if I kept smiling like this I would not be allowed at the scene due to the energetic grin on my face, and the injured future patients which was not a great combination. I eventually made my way through the little compacted aisle that lead to my seat that was near the towels and blankets for patient care. Where I was sitting, I was told that I would be sitting in the same place on the drive to any dispatch calls we would get that day. John, a broad sturdy man who had shown me where I would be siting, sat right next to me by the side of the car, where he would be assessing the patient that would be on a gurney. He was also kind and humorous, as he and Kyle were showing me the inside of the ambulance. In front where John was facing, within arm’s reach were different types of materials that were in a translucent glass that had drawers on the inside wall of the ambulance that were labeled by each different types of medical tools. Some of the equipment that was kept in storage in the drawers were different types of all different sizes of needles, gauze, bandages, and medicine/drugs, which were locked up for safety reasons. One of the reasons was to keep these things away from junkies, and others who would endanger/steal/misuse the drug if accessed. They also told me that before any shifts started that they or anyone before them who was driving the ambulance would have to fill up the gas tank, clean, and re-pack anything that was used or necessarily in need of more supplies. But other than the medical tools, gurney, towels, blankets, etc, it was a main priority to re-pack or clean before changing/starting a shift. The two most interesting parts in the ambulance was where I was sitting which was near the wall that had different types of switches such as the lights, oxygen tanks, AC, etc. The second most interesting part was in front in the driver’s seat, they had a computer that showed them other dispatch calls that could be nearby, departments on scenes, tappable water that can be used to put out fires, and maps that can show the paramedics where the dispatch call was made/ where to meet. I was having a good time, and felt like I belonged there. I felt comfortable during the ride along, and I had a feeling that the day was going to be a great day.
The first time I heard a call for help come through dispatch while sitting in the ambulance, my heart sunk to my stomach and I felt utter excitement. While speaking to Kyle, a wiry and witty man, who asked questions about school (like parents usually seem to ask). Kyle was a Paramedic for a longer time frame than John, who was more like the trainee, and Kyle as the leader, showing and teaching John the “do and don’ts”. We all were having a conversation about each of our own lives, such as what we do or did on the weekends. I had only worn black pants with my school’s t-shirt that said “Health Science Academy,” which was a bad day to not bring a sweatshirt. When Kyle noticed my goosebumps on my arms he offered me a navy blue jacket from inside the ambulance which had distinctive neon stripes that showed others that I was with the LifeLine Paramedics. I had accepted his offer, and felt like a big blueberry with neon stripes, but I didn’t care because I felt like I looked more professional, and the jacket had done its job of keeping me cozy and warm. By the time we decided to go back inside the house, we heard a siren. It was time to see how Paramedics/ EMTs assessed a scene due to being first responders of a scene.
We all hurried up in the ambulance and buckled up for the ride. I could not interpret what the dispatcher said, so I waited for the Paramedics to start heading to the scene, and asked patiently what type of emergency they were going to assess. Both at the same time said “Gunshot Scene,” everything I was expecting was definitely not a “Gunshot Scene,” and mostly not one in Ojai. Kyle being the driver, had put the sirens on as I saw all the vehicles move to their right as we passed by them. It was a weird feeling, knowing that they were moving to the side to let us by. By the time we were arriving at the scene, our pace slowed due to the situation we were in. In situations like this, the ambulance has to wait for the police department to show up first to make sure the scene is safe to enter. When the police showed up and summed up the scene that was safe, we were given the okay as we slowly picked up the pace and watched bystanders surrounding the scene. This was Kyle’s first gunshot dispatch ever, and as well as John’s, the utter excitement and curiosity flew through the air as we watched what would happen next. As the ambulance pulled to a stop, the back doors of the ambulance opened as John gave the O.K. for me to come out. It seemed that just a while ago we were back here talking about our family’s weekends. Then to be outside in a friendly environment with a middle aged man with a gunshot wound in the palm of his hand as the blood pushed through the wound gushing its way out onto the depths of the earth’s ground. The man was surround by police, sheriff, paramedics, and the patient’s family. As the wound was being wrapped and put in pressure for the bleeding to stop, I saw the emergency departments asking questions as they built up a rapport with the patient to make him feel calm and taken care of. In the Health Science Academy I learned about all about assessing and how to give proper care to patient. The main skill was to build a good relationship with the patient making it both easier for the caregivers and the patient. This is called a rapport, creating a bond with the patient can lead to getting the information of his/her story of what/how the patient got injured, and helping the caregiver get an idea on how to treat the patient with better care/treatment.
After trying to get the bleeding under control, it was time to transport the patient to a hospital due to the bullet being the cause of the bleeding, patient’s loss of blood, and the patient’s history of diabetes. The man was kind and calm for a guy who had accidentally shot his hand, but given the circumstances I was relieved for the patient’s attitude throughout the transportation to the trauma hospital in Ventura. During the transport, I had been given an easy job which was by keeping the AC on and the lights of the ambulance as John assessed the patient for his diabetes and the wound. By the time we arrived, I walked in with the paramedics along with the patient on the gurney as we headed inside the trauma hospital. Learning how to transfer a patient from one caregiver to another by officially signing papers due to the length of one caregiver can do, then transferring the patient to another caregiver that could provide more care/help. In the end, the gunshot dispatch patient was left with great care and had given my ride along a different outlook towards what someone thinks will happen, with what can actually happen in a ride along as well as in life.
The ride along with LifeLine was life changing because I learned so much about how Paramedics/EMTs have to clean, repack, and fill up gas before changing/starting a new shift. I observed on how their social assessment towards the patient during the hands-on scene was very important due to having developed a rapport with the patient can lead to a better outcome in treating the patient. John and Kyle gave my experience a friendly welcome towards the medical work field, and helped me to be positively sure in pursuing to be a Paramedic-Firefighter. My perspective of career jobs in the medical field was changed forever after experiencing the exhilarating ride along with LifeLine Paramedics in the small town of Ojai Valley. My overall impression of experiencing this journey in my life gave a great impact in overruling primarily my expectations. I would encourage others to do the same as to taking a leap of faith in trying/experiencing their passion/interests as how I did. Now, I am grateful I had the decency to try something new, and changing my whole outlook in what I want to be pursuing career wise.