Sunday, June 7, 2009

Odds and Ends

Winding Down the Tour at My Place of Employment

It's Sunday, and another two week tour of duty at my place of employment is nearing its end. I'll only be home a few hours before boarding an airplane for the long flight to Kentucky, for a week of work related clinical training.

My job requires me to fill two roles. The one I spend the most time at is that of security officer but the reason that I have this job rather than someone else is because I am a paramedic with over 30 years experience. My company's client feels it is very important to have a well qualified medic on duty in the camp - but a medic doesn't have a heck of a lot to do out here.

Both my company and the client put an extreme emphasis on workplace safety. Seriously, safety is taken to an almost ludicrous degree. Although some of the safety rules they come up with are obviously the result of someone in Los Anchorage having way too much time on his or her hands, the result of the extreme focus on safety is that pipeline medics resemble the fictitious Maytag repairman of television commercials.

That is a mixed blessing. Obviously I don't want my co-workers, who are also friends with whom I spend more than half my life, being injured or ill. On the other hand, in the event of an emergency I need to at the top of my game. It takes practice to do so - that's why it's referred to as the practice of emergency medicine.

If you are my patient, you want me to be able to start an IV on the first attempt rather than making you look like a porcupine's victim and if you need an endotracheal tube (breathing tube inserted directly into the wind pipe) you want me to put that tube in the correct place on the first attempt, in less than 15 seconds. Trust me, you REALLY want me to be able to do that. If I take too long brain cells will die (oops, there go the piano lessons!!), and I get it in the wrong spot you'll die. Pretty basic, eh?

To ensure that I can perform those skills competently, the client spends a great deal of money sending me Outside three times each year, to run calls with a modern, well-equipped ambulance service. I am fortunate in that I can do my clinical rotations with the Georgetown-Scott County EMS in Georgetown, Kentucky.

Some of my co-workers do their rotations in Texas, some in Oregon. In the past we've had medics do their rotations in Florida, Nebraska, Tennessee and probably other places that escape my fleeting memory. Each medic is responsible for making his or her own arrangements with a service that meets the specific criteria established by our medical director. It just happens that GSCEMS meets the criteria (and then some), is an incredibly hospital host with some very skillful and experienced medics, and serves the community in which my friend Janece Rollet resides.

So, the first week of my so-called "R&R" will be spent enjoying the traditional southern hospitality of good friends in Kentucky, doing those things I need to do in order to "remember how to be a real paramedic". These rotations are usually a lot of fun, but by the time they are finished I am well reminded why it is that I live in Alaska rather than the Lower-48.

Looking Forward to Alaska State Rendezvous

The weekend after I return from Kentucky, I plan to attend the first weekend of the Alaska State Rendezvous. This rendezvous is Alaska's premier living history event, and this year it will be held at the Delta Bison Range, outside of Delta Junction. The rendezvous is scheduled for June 20th through 28th, but I'll only be able to make the first weekend due to my employment schedule. Those needing to purchase powder or reproduction trade goods from my Nor' West Company should plan to do so on Saturday the 20th.

Invasion of the Voles

During my last R&R I noticed a fox vixen hanging around the woods just oustide the kennel. Actually, the dogs noticed her first, and a couple of times each day the whole kennel went into a major uproar as she hunted her way around the place. Foxes aren't at all uncommon at my place, but it is kind of unusual for one to stick around for so long. Apparently she is enjoying some good hunting as a result of an exploding vole population in our region.

Voles are small rodents that fill the ecological niche of field mice or moles in the Lower-48. They usually aren't a problem in the house, but they can wreak havok if one is trying to keep a pretty lawn or grow a nice garden. My only real complaint with voles is that they are notorious for carrying tapeworms, and some of my dogs are notorious hunters who eat and kill voles with great delight. I imagine I'll have to deworm several of them against tapes by the time summer is finished.

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