Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A twist of events

As I mentioned in a previous posting, we have ran so many critical calls that our minds had adapted to our environments. We could do our jobs flawlessly like robots, but at what cost? What about our empathy and caring.... Had we lost some of it or all of it along the way? What about  our personal lives? Help others and then help yourself...  Sometimes the hardest life to save is your own. As a medic how does one save themselves?

I stepped outside my dark hotel room into the bright hallway when I caught the attention of 2 of the other U.S. medics eyes. "jesus, you look like S**t Mike" they exclaimed. I just mumbled agreeably as I made my way outside to hail a taxi and get to work.  Dark bags under my blood shot eyes squinted in pain. Off to work... I have now been in country longer than most of other western medics. I am salty and short timing.

  Upon arrival to the station I dropped my gear inside and went for a walk to the local store. As I walked down the busy dirt road covered in old plastic bags, rusty cans, paper, wrappers, needles,  and other random debris I enjoyed the amaturer  graffiti that covered every business and every wall around me. Many of the businesses window's where broken and all of them where covered with bars. As I continued my journey for a redbull I observed all the children living in poverty in our neighbored.

 They all had there soccer jerseys on and loved playing soccer, unfortunitly they only had a dirt field and used garbage with stones to mark the field goals. By the looks of there raggedy soccer ball it was unbelievable it still held air. I was based in a very poor neighborhood that taxi drivers refused to go to at night. I serviced the poorest, and busiest area in the city. In addition to that my coverage area expanded for miles outside of my response area due to the shortage of Paramedics and doctors. I never got a break and with back to back day/night shifts I did not sleep. The other american medics could not believe how I did it. Some of them had came for ride a longs with me, one day was enough for them... but no one could believe I had been working this station for 8 months everyday. 

I have been working as a rapid response paramedic at the busiest station  in Riyadh Saudi Arabia (a city the size of Los Angels) for about 8 months as of writing this. The incredible shortage of Advanced Life Support staff has resulted in severe sleep deprivation, overtime every week, exposure to an incredibly high volume of critical cases, and places my safety in jeopardy on a daily basis in multiple ways, including 2 ambulance accidents I was involved in and a combative patient that I received a dirty needle stick from, a man with a knife that tried to stab me, an explosion that knocked my colleague to the ground, and the list go's on and on. I was not just a medic working a regular job I was fighting a freaking war with the streets of Riyadh.

 The critical cases I see have began to blurr together for me, from explosions, to gun shots, to stabbings, to huge car accidents, people being struck by cars and assaulted, abused, heart attacks, strokes, baby's being born,  and many many other things, thats just in the past 2 weeks. Even the medics in Iraq and New York City I have spoke to do not see the kind of volume. I am proud to serve the community I do, and to also have the busiest station, but a break would be nice.

I could deal with our heavy call volume, bad niegorhood, and frequent safety hazards... Sure they run a toll on me, but there where other factors in place. The ambulance crews I use to enjoy working with where switched around and theres been a lot of conflict with the new crews and I. Work has been very stressful lately.

I have been a real train wreck.... BUT today things started looking up.

As I write this today is my last day at the busiest ALS station in Riyadh. The manager from a brand new station called me today.  The station is in a very secure nice area where many high profile patients live. The call volume is much slower and the crews  seem great.  I was transfered there effective today and I feel great. I will be the first medic at this station and can not wait to start. In addition to this I moved out of the hotel today that I have been living in for the past 8 months and finally got my own apartment on a western compound!
It appears I am on easy street now, fate had saved me from burnout. Don't worry Ill still see crazy exciting things to share with you all. Ill make sure of it!


  1. Wonderful! Sometimes slowin it down a bit helps you move forward.

  2. Its nice. Almost to nice haha! Ill have to write about it in my next entry some.

  3. Wow, A.M. Good timing on this new gig, you deserve the break. But good on you for sticking it out in the worst of the worst for so long, for the people who needed you the most. I'm glad you went here not NYC...where you have been makes NYC look like a freaking playground IMHO!

    What doesn't kill you makes u stronger...