One of the advantages of being a medic is the fact that a lot of your friends are medics, and if they don't keep the same hours as you do, they at least understand your hours. It's why our New Year's Celebration is traditionally held at O'Malley's. the first Sunday after New Years.
O'Malley's is one of the best brunch houses in town and since they're the one that doesn't require a black tie and has seats that will hold our twelve 'heavier' medics it is favored by the Paramedic/EMT/Law Enforcement crowd.
In the old days it was just me and the guys, brothers and sisters in arms. . These days there are just too many of us and there are a lot more second cousins once removed than siblings-but we still get together, second cousins and all.
The funny thing is-I'm the matriarch.
As we were finishing up we heard a scream. At least thirty-seven heads turned at the sound. At least twelve hands went for firearms before we found the source of the scream. A man near the hostess station was going into anaphylactic shock.
I had started to react without thinking and it took me a moment to realize that when I said 'call 911' it was echoed by at least half the people in the restaurant.
Learning you're allergic to something the hard way is never a good thing, but if you do, I recommend doing it at O'Malley's because the place is usually jam packed with medics of every size, shape, and degree of experience.
I think my proudest moment was when I began scanning the area to make sure everything was under control and I found my darling eight-year old daughter comforting the victim's children and his wife.
That's my girl.
For normal people the first Monday of the year is the day people come back to work after either two three to four day weeks or a week to two weeks of vacation, or people in sales recover from the mass buying frenzy that is the end of the year/holiday season.
For me, it's just a day when I have a better chance of contacting suppliers and recruiting agents.
Or course, today's first contact was to call the hospital and see how 'our' patient was doing. I knew something was up when the duty nurse put me on hold so I could talk to the attending physician.
Usually that response usually translates into "You did something wrong and the Doctor wishes to make sure it never happens again." And yes, the 'doctor' is capitalized in an effort to put the medic in their place.
I was totally surprised when Doctor Shapiro came on the line and demanded, "Miller, just how many attending medics did this man have?"
"Most of second and third shift," I answered without thinking.
It was true-it was not appreciated, at least not until I explained.
Once I explained he kindly requested that I act as the main contact and have 'your people ask you for updates….'
It did put me in a good mood for the rest of the day. I'm just not sure about Dr. Shapiro.
I'd dearly love to say that nothing happened today. It was the kind of day that reminded me of my mom saying, "So Happy It's Tuesday."
The only good thing I can say about the day is that 'it's over.'
Today I took back my old nick-name and I earned it. To be fair, I think Seattle earned it, I was just along for the ride.
The morning started off normally enough, it took Case three tries to wake me up, and I still managed to make it to work on time coffee in hand. It went downhill from there.
At 11:15 flight 108 out of SEATAC landed in Puget Sound. The news reports called it a water landing, but the only planes that make water landings are amphibious. For all other planes a water landing is more appropriately called a 'crash'.
Now that we have that straightened out, as Chief of Citywide I was relegated to the mobile command center to co-ordinate the rescue effort. If that was all I could have lived with it and had a nice story to tell but someone had a better idea.
Either they weren't paying attention to the fact that we were already busy, or they thought the crash was stealing their thunder-whatever it was three people decided it was a good time for a shooting spree.
According to the 'Star that 'spree' was one of 'those things' you don't want to know about-I honestly don't care. I'd already called in second shift to cover the city while first worked on the crash. The spree spread us even thinner and there's only so many people you can call in.
Ever hear the saying 'Things come in threes?'
Yeah, you guessed it…. Multi car pile up on the interstate. That was the point I pulled out the stops. All admin types who were still certified medics were sent into the field. They were stationed across the metroplex to handle regular calls while second shift was redeployed to help cover the three major scenes we were working.
The majority of the motor medics were dispatched to the accident because they were the mostly likely to actually make it there. Seeing how I was still certified as a Motor-Medic, I took the accident. I put my second in command in charge of the water rescue and put Ray in charge of the spree scene
We cleared the accident scene at 19:58. You know… the desk job is looking better and better.
As always, the day after any disaster is a day spent putting out political fires and we'd had three major scenes to work. In the absence of any official findings as to the causes of the accidents, the press and the ambulance chasers were doing their best to make it all into some sort of scandal.
Did activating second shift after the crash leave people in danger? Did spreading the resources even thinner lead to extra deaths? Why were administrative people put on the street?
Those I expected. Rather than saying "We still don't know what caused any of this", the press takes a stand of 'hard hitting investigative reporting promising the public that they'll get to the bottom of things-even if they have to make it up. It doesn't help that they can easily find Citywide's competition waiting in the wings to for a chance to say how they would have made a difference if they had the contract.
This I'd learned to expect, my experience as the head of the Motor-Medic program had taught me as much. What I was not ready for was Citywide demanding a full accounting of what had happened, how resources were deployed and why I'd authorized that much overtime my 5th day on the job.
It wasn't all that bad, I mean after the explanation Citywide gave me a prepared statement. It gave the reporters a field day but I realized something-having a prepared statement meant that someone had known things like this would happen, probably because they had happened before.
It wasn't me, and I just had to prove it. As I read the statement I could see the reporters just waiting for their chance. By the time we got to questions and answers I was in rare form.
"Why did you dedicate so many people to the crash?", "If you thought you needed them for the crash, why did you pull people off? Didn't you think the other shift could handle it?"
All my sales pitches and experience with the Motor Program meant I was ready to explain the deployment and the fact that there are two different shift methods used, the daily shift work and then there are the 4 days on, three days off shifts.
I watched the reporters glaze over as their questions were all answered.
Pencil Pusher this Ray!
Since Thursday is one of my days off I started my day the night before,: dinner with Bri and a movie on the trid. Once Bri had gone to bed, I opted for a long hot soak. I was on my third 'refill' by the time Case got home.
"You staying in there all night?" he asked once he'd heated up his dinner and settled in.
"Only until I'm properly pruned," I answered.
Case had the sense not to mention the press conference, but once I got out he helped me unwind. All I can say is a great start to a day off starts the night before.
I was going to sleep in but Bri missed her bus and was forced to wake me up so she wouldn't be late.
As I was dropping her off at school she gave me this worried look. "You're not going to put this in your journal are you?"
Sorry hon-it's the hazard of making me write again.
Since I was already up I bought some coffee and took it to Case and we ended up having an early lunch together. I did manage to keep from going to my own office but I guess working from your husband's is just as bad…
It was a nice day, the kind that reminds us all why we do this. I've been needing that, or a vacation-but that's going to have to wait.
Well I survived my first administrative meeting as chief although there were a few times I was beginning to doubt I would.
Most of the staff had served under the prior chief and were less than receptive to my being injected into the group instead of having one of them take over,
I mean… what experience did I really have?
I think my handling of the Tuesday's Trifecta gave them reason to pause, which was a start. At least there were willing to listen and that gave me a chance to explain what I felt my job really was.
As head of the motor medic program I not only organized and developed the program here, I sold it. I sold it to the company and the people of the city. As situations arose, I adapted the program to provide the best service available with the least employee turnover.
I quantified what we did and I made sure the program lived up to and exceeded the sales pitch.
They're willing to give me a chance to prove myself, and that's all I need. At least until they find out my plans for the administrative side of things, but each thing in it's own time.
If there's one thing I have learned in the past ten years it's this: life is a marathon, not a sprint.
Time will tell if I'm right for the job, and ultimately if the job is right for me.
When I told Case about it he just smiled and laughed. "I've been trying to tell you that for years," he told me.
"But I needed to figure it out myself," I said in my own defense.
Case just shook his head. You think I'd be used to it by now.
I did a lot of thinking and soul searching before I accepted the position of Regional Chief for Citywide Medical Services. CMS has a reputation to maintain, and I have a rather large extended family to think about.
Case knew right off that something was bothering me, and I was tempted not to tell him, but with his connections he probably knew about it before I did.
There were a lot of questions I had to answer, and I answered a lot of them again at yesterday's meeting. I didn't just 'take the job,' I thought it through and talked to the people who'd be most affected by my decision.
I talked to Charlie, Deputy Chief Charles Lange. After all, if anyone was going to take the job-it should have been him. He just smiled and shook his head when I knocked on his door.
"Miller," he said with a nod. "I was figuring I'd be seeing you."
Seems, he was not only the first person they asked, he was also the one who recommended me.
"Jess," he explained. "I'm good at implementing a plan. I'm great in running things day to day but the Chief needs a vision and something more than just the 'big picture'. You my dear lady not only see the big picture, you see what's wrong with it and you see what needs to be done to make that picture what you want it to be. I would be honored to be you second, but you are the person I'd want leading us."
That was when he stopped being "Deputy Chief Lange" and became 'Charlie.'
"You talk to your family and see what they think. The rest will fall into place," he said, knowing I still had a lot of soul searching to do. Another reason he told me he thought of me for the spot-I wouldn't just take the job or refuse it: I would think about it and decide if my vision for my future and that of Citywide would mesh or not.
I also talked to Case and Bri about what it would mean, and one of the things that attracted me to the job was the fact that I would be able to spend, hopefully, a little more time with them. I mean yeah, Bri's used to spend time with me on office days but now she's in school and she spends a lot more of her time watching over Trina and Jonathan's girls than she does with me.
Nothing like watching our children growing up to make each one of us feel like we're the old guard making sure the path is clear when the new guard is ready to take over. I can easily see Bri pursuing a career in law enforcement and the girls?-I'm not sure the Awakened World is ready for Twin Thunderbird Shamans. One is hard enough on the furniture-just as Bri's good old Uncle Nate.
Like most of my adopted family, Uncle Nate is a long story, Uncle Philip too for that matter. I'll tell you their stories some other time, but suffice it to say we met during the Blackout and life has never been the same.
I talked with Mom Walker and Trina-I'm pretty sure Case talked to Jonathan about it before I went back and talked to Charlie again.
We worked out our schedule and how we'd work together long before I signed the paper work. I needed to know we were on the same page, that we'd work well together. To be honest we had worked well together when he was Deputy Chief and I was just the lowly head of the MotorMedic program but this would be different and it didn't take me long to see that different in this case may very well mean better.
We planned out our schedule with me taking Thursdays off, him taking Saturdays so he could watch his kids. That left Sundays which we decided to alternate who was on call. He also backed me up on what I planned to do today…
Which brings me to Bri's Uncle Ray. Ray and I dated when I'd first started down the road that had led me here, dated and decided we were not meant to date. We fell out of contact, but when I moved out to Seattle we'd ended up hanging out together since we were two misplaced Baltimorians in a land of coffee and seafood.
Ray had backed me up and helped me train a lot of the first members of the Motor Medic program. He'd run it when I wasn't available but it was always my baby. In a way it always will be but for now-it's going to be my nephew and Ray is taking over the care and feeding of my program.
I just have to break it to him. Serves him right.
Copyright 2010 M.T. Decker