Today was one of those “Everyone’s an Asshole” days. Every. Single. One of you. (Don’t get all riled up, what I mean by that is, I was a cranky difficult bitch all day and had my head too far up my own ass to have a clear point of view)
But it seemed like every opportunity I had to swing back above the crapline, something would happen and send me back. A Snakes and Ladders Day if you will. Except all snakes.
So one of the skills stations we worked today was all about stretcher handling, patient lifts and the dreaded “stair chair”. Way back when I took my EMR course, I had just had my gallbladder out and wasn’t able to participate- so this time I had hijacked a classmate last week who works inter-facility transfer and had her brush me up a bit on how the stretchers went up and down, with and without weight, and how to do it without murdering my back.
Keeping in mind, I already know how to lift properly in general- it’s more to do with how to do that using different types of equipment, and efficiently, and communicating with your lift partner.
Now. Little Miss Instructor has been working in EMS for… 8 or so years. Little Miss Instructor runs the whole lab, everyone gets a turn, including me, and everyone gets critiqued-except me. Which is fine by me- as I was the only one in the group who was able to do the lifts smoothly and competently, and with appropriate technique.
The thing is, “appropriate technique” includes not only the basics of safe lifting; keep weight close, lift with legs not your back, communicate with lifting buddy etc- but appropriate for me. I am 5’8”, have a…rather forward center of gravity, and a great deal more upper body strength than most women. Broad of shoulder and hip, I am MUCH more comfortable and STABLE with a fairly wide stance and transitioning from a “sumo” squat to standing to finishing the lift with my shoulders and biceps when necessary. I did about 40 versions of that lift today with both empty stretchers and with other classmates strapped on. Smooth and competent.
Finally, Little Miss Instructor realizes I’m the only one she hasn’t “tweaked” technique with and marches over and sets me up to lift like she does… Like a 5’3” 130 pound, skinny armed girl. Now, she’s great. I promise. And she has had to develop her own technique(s) to compensate for her size, especially since most patients over the age of say..16 are bigger than her. I get that. And she has years more experience on the job. I also get that. So in the interest of cooperation (she’s the one handing out the mark on the activity) I decide to give it a go.
Narrow stance, shins right up against the stretcher, ass out, knees bent and I’m practically nose to nose with my patient having to lean right over the top and as I lift I feel my knee grind and a twinge in my back so I just stopped right there.
“That isn’t going to work for me” I said
“Oh, well that’s the way I do it…umm”
“Ok, I understand why you want us all to lift the same way, but we aren’t all the same… would you be willing to try it my way and see if you can feel a problem with my technique?”
“Uh, sure, ok”
And she gets right up against the stretcher with a wider stance and toes out and gives it a go… but oh.. what now… she’s not tall enough to complete the lift…and doesn’t have the upper body strength to go any further… imagine that…
At that point, all she could reasonably say is “you’re obviously using your legs to lift and you seem stable like that so if it works for you…”
And fortunately she left it at that. So I carried my disgruntled mood into the next activity, which included waiting 20 minutes for that instructor to return from whatever he had wandered off to do, and then start a scenario where I “accidentally” killed a patient just so I could stop having to manually stabilize his stupid pretend open fracture.
Yes… extraordinarily unprofessional, (and petty and immature) but I promise never to do that outside of Scenarioland. And provided I’m not forced to injure myself before I’m even done the course, I will even wrangle your stretcher like a pro.