Its been a long night, the last of three long nights, the shift is over-almost and I lay on the bunk praying for one bit of kindness from the rescue gods. At 0600 the shift catches up with me, I close my eyes and drift…till the tones go off. Not quite sure if I heard one long tone or two short ones I wait, one eye open.
One long, and the P.A.. follows;
Rescue 1 to wherever for whatever, at 0655. Engine 13, as you were.
A quick splash of water on the face, run my fingers through my hair and down the stairs I go, as members from the oncoming shift go up to relieve the sleeping members of Engine 13. My relief is coming from Rescue 4, overtime, and won't be here till 7:30, earliest. Doesn't matter, by the time I get whoever wherever it's going to be close to eight.
The people assigned to the ambulances have considered stopping the time honored tradition of coming in an hour early to start our shifts. We have been talking about it for years but never do. Its bad enough we give the city an hour's work for nothing nearly every shift, but seeing the rest of the job getting out on time just makes it worse.
For those who have no idea what the heck I'm complaining about, here's a quick explanation:
Our day shift starts at 0800 and ends at 1800. Night shift starts at 1800 and ends at 0800. To beat traffic, and get home in time to get the kids to school, or practice, or start dinner or get to our second jobs on time we come in an hour early. And get out an hour early.
Unless you are on the EMS side of the job. We come in early and get out late. There is no overtime to put in for because our shift doesn't officially start until we get out an hour late. The firefighters sometimes get stuck, but seldom for more than fifteen minutes. An EMS call, with treatment, transport, triage and return to service (hoping to get back to quarters) takes about an hour.
It takes five minutes to get wherever. It took four and a half for my brain to get in gear, fifteen seconds to get over myself and my self-imposed misery, and another fifteen seconds to purge the vision of the crew from Engine 13, all rested and ready for our days off getting in their cars and trucks and heading home.
The patient is an elderly lady in the throes of Congestive Heart Failure. I'm instantly awake, misery forgotten, and get to work.