Monday, May 4

...for the swine flu panic...

We all know this thing has been blown way out of proportion, but the kind of hysteria it is causing didn't sink in until last night.
We were having a great day. One of those days where both folks on the rig wanted to be there, had similar opinions about the problems we face and same great taste in coffee.

We also found out we had the same sense of humor at the absolute strangest time.


Started out as a code 2 sick eval, now the caller has called in again stating he has overdosed.


More like overdosed on aporkolyptic (Thanks FireGeezer) nonsense. We arrive to find an ALS engine company standing in a half circle in front of a man in his early thirties who has a look on his face like he needs to get something off his chest.
"I'm embarrassed" He tells us, exhaling deeply into his folded fingers.
"Don't be, just tell us what's wrong," my partner asks.
Our patient stands and begins to pace. "Can I tell you without them here?" He's pointing at his parents, standing in the hallway.
"Of course, man, whatever you need." I said and the parents silently oblige.
Another deep exhalation into his hands and the hands quickly through the hair on his head. He's got something gnawing at him that he doesn't want to tell us.

Later on we compared thoughts as to what he might have told us. Some included: Swallowing a live fish, sex with a household item, illegal drug use, pregnant girlfriend and leprosy.

"I'm sick. I just know I'm sick," he's repeating as he paces.
"Just take a deep breath, think of the words and just let them out. I guarantee we've heard it before. We're not here to judge, just to help." I said, guiding him to sit back on the couch. The engine has gone so it's just two happy medics and a stressed out, nervous thirty something.

"I was cleaning my fishtank (swallowed a live fish idea) and smoking a cigarette (post sex with household item idea) when I started to feel sick (drug use)." He's up and pacing again. "What am I going to do?(pregnant girlfriend idea), I'm going to die (leprosy is as good as anything else now), I just know it."

"Let it out, just let it go, you'll feel so much better." I encouraged, feeling like Maury Povich on one of those cheating spouse shows.

"I think I have that flu from cleaning my fish tank." He said, clearly relieved.
Before I realized where it would lead I asked the natural followup question, "What flu?"

Oh my. That flu.

Well. Clearly there are mental issues, which are explained by the eaves dropping parents who remain remarkably calm when they hear this explanation for all the pacing and heavy breathing.
I proceeded to hide my smile, as did my partner, as I went into my Influenza Like Illness Assessment Tools routine. No really, we have a training sheet and everything.

Of course everything is clean, but he clearly needs to get into the mental health system and we're happy to help.

My partner, however, decides he'll go into advanced questioning about possible infection vectors.
"Have you recently been to Mexico?" he asks, getting a faint head shake.
I couldn't resist getting one in, now just to see if I can get my partner to break character.
"What about China Town, any pork products?" again, a head shake.
Then the pies de resistance:
"Perhaps your fish had a fever. Was the water warm when you emptied it?"
I nearly chuckled. Time to go.

At the hospital, the staff was less than thrilled they were the only option for our new friend getting into the mental health system, but luckily it was clinical night and a dozen nursing and paramedic students were asking him how he felt and what was wrong.

With any luck they medicated him, he clamed down and was not infected by his fish tank after all. 'Cause if you can get it from fish tanks, we're all going to die.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Sounds like you had a little fun with your patient. :)

I had my first 'swine flu' 9-1-1 call a few days ago. They thought the patient had THE FLU because the patient had a fever, but no other flu like symptoms.

The patient hadn't been out of the country, to Mexico, hadn't been in contact with any sick people, and the fever was under control with over the counter medication.

Over all the family was just scared, they were going to seek medical attention with their Family Doctor, or an Urgent Care Center, but needed to know the EMS was their for them.

We haven't been given any instruction from our Health Services Governing body to triage 9-1-1 calls any differently then we currently do.

No one knows what the coming weeks with hold through.

We can only hope that THE FLU dies down, and everyone who is ill gets better.

Dances with Corgis said...

"Fish Flu" has such a nice ring to it!

Let's not forget "Fox flu" and birders could potentially contract "fowl flu."

Here in SF I think swine flu panic is calming down a bit, we were slammed in the ER last week, but much calmer today.

mrs. fuzz said...

The fish flu. That does have a ring to it. I love how the media blows this all out of proportion.

Having said that, last night I had our balcony sliding glass door open. Someone over the fence in the adjacent apartment complex was hanging out outside and kept snorting and spitting constantly (or hocking loogies as some call it). I couldn't help but think to myself as I sat there listening to all this disgusting-ness, "the Swine flu".

Allison said...

Hey- just discovered your blog and I am enjoying seeing the other side of the system (I work as an ER nurse). My favorite swine flu telephone triage so far is a mother who wanted us to please run out to the parking lot to swab her child with a cough because she didn't want to bring him into the ER and expose him and the doctor's office couldn't see him until the next day. Reminder everyone: this is the EMERGENCY room.

Ckemtp said...

Everyone Stay Back! Stay Back! I've got Bacon and I know how to fry it!



Anonymous said...

This is Ck's cousin.

Silly Ck. Everyone knows that FRYING the bacon de-activates the flu virus! The correct threat is; "I've got raw pork chops AND a sling shot!"

Happy Medic: Warm water. Fish Fever? LOL!

I hate the media. Still remember working the ER when out local area had a problem in the schools and it was all over the news. Soooo...many people flooding the system swearing they or their kid had "that hoopy cough."

Soooo glad I'm not working the ER now.

Loved it.