Summer Drought

All things happen in cycles. Unfortunately, I am currently in the “White Cloud” part of my work cycle. That means, dear readers, that I have been the anti-flight nurse. Ground response via mini-van? Yeah, have done 3. My last patient flight was almost a month ago. Blame it on bad luck. Blame it on the weather.

I will blame it on the EMS gods.

I should go sacrifice a pilot or two. Maybe that would change my luck.

*ducks flying helmets*

Continue Reading

Flight Nurse’s Hierarchy of Needs

I can tell how much time I have spent at the hangar by how unorganized my life becomes.

It is all I can do to ensure the laundry is done, there is food in the fridge and my truck is not trashed. In the past, one by one, these things gradually get out of control. I would finally have a day off and the awful state of my world would come into focus.

We recently have found ourselves sorely short staffed. As with any healthcare department, it is cyclical and not surprising. This, however, has been more challenging than normal.

When discussing flight medicine with someone seriously considering it as a career, I try to mention some of the more unique features of the field. This is not like working for an ambulance company or a med/surg floor with a huge pool of part time employees. There is no being pulled to the helicopter like they used to pull me to the floor when they were short staffed.

There are a set number of full-time flight nurses who cover 36 hours a day 7 days a week 365 days a year. There is no calling out sick because of a hang-over or wanting to screw off when the weather is nice. We work when we don’t necessarily feel well. We give up family functions, vacations and planned days off frequently to ensure there is coverage.

We have no resource pool. We are it.

It may be our family that needs us. It may be our friend or neighbor who is ill or injured. We possess a dedication to our profession, our patients and ourselves that far surpasses the usual work place. Even when we don’t know how things will work out, we cover the shifts. Some way, somehow.

Flexible to the point of liquidation but not vaporization.

I am never more impressed with my peers than when the proverbial shit seems to be hitting the fan. I am proud to be one of them.

Continue Reading

Social Media Burnout & Rebranding Reponse to Mike

Today, Mike posted this video about social media burnout on his blog Family Medicine Rocks.

After discussion with Mike about rebranding, I thought this would be the perfect time to address both, once again, via video.

So Mike? Tag! You are it!

Continue Reading

Night Shift

Working night shift wears me out. We do a lot of “swing shifts” from days (7a-7p) to mids (10a-10p) to nights (7p-7a). Fortunately, in-house rules exist as to how we structure our schedule but I still struggle with those damn nights.

Anyone else out there have issues with swinging from days to nights and back in a few short days? More importantly, do you have tricks that work?

As all in the HEMS industry know, we have fought safety issues and criticism related to our horrible accident record in 2009. In one online article related to the NTSB hearing quoted Eileen Frazer, RN, executive director of CAMTS who stated:

“The No. 1 issue we have concerns about is fatigue and sleep deprivation,” Frazer testified. She said 49% of helicopter EMS accidents happen at night, while only 34% of flights take place at night. “One of our biggest concerns is sleep inertia — that period after you wake up. What is your cognitive function? What are your psychomotor skills and what activities must you do immediately after being awakened?”

[emphasis mine]

I recently completed online and in house sleep safety training. I KNOW what happens when I am too tired. I know that proper diet, exercise, sleep, etc will help prevent fatigue.

But the question still hangs out there—–how the hell do I flip back and forth between these varied shifts?

*head desk*

Continue Reading

After Seven and a half years, crzegrl.net becomes FlightEMS.com

Seven and a half years is a long time. My very first post on crzegrl was on 12 November 2003, a fitting date for me as so many major events have happened on that day for me.

I swore into the Army.

I closed on my first home.

My friend Danny died.

My blog was born.

I remember purchasing my first domain in 1999 (homesickangel.net) and struggling to create what was, then, an online journal, on software that didn’t easily support the idea. Who would have predicted that I would be considered an old timer in the blogging world.

Through many life experiences and much evolution, my blogging dwindled to almost nothing. Why couldn’t I get my fingers and brain in gear? Why were the words stuck? What happened to the blogger I once was?

Time has taught me that all things happen when they are supposed to happen. They cannot be rushed or forced out of order. Life has a way of exerting control, fate will not be toyed with.

I went from documenting my thoughts as a graduate nurse and an Officer in the USAR. I didn’t tell many people I was writing. It was so much more for my own benefit. I eventually realized that gaining readers was about BEING a reader. It was so important to be part of the community. So I began reading, commenting and the readers came.

My big coming out as a blogger happened after gaining my current position as a flight nurse. I realized my passion as a professional and wanted to write about it. I understood that it would be necessary to become legitimate. This meant full exposure to not only my name, but who I am as a person. I couldn’t hide behind a shield of cold professionalism and sterility. What you see was what you were going to get. That did not mean ranting without purpose, saying unprofessional things about my employer, or writing without thought. It meant sharing my thoughts and insights, becoming more of a public person. After making that important decision, I approached my manager and outted myself.

What a scary conversation.

I had to educate, not only her, but those above her in the food chain. They were reading about me and my life.

After gaining her approval, I began sharing with my co-workers to mixed but positive feedback. The few neigh-sayers commented on my level of personal exposure. They didn’t, and still may not, realize that the exposure is necessary for legitimacy and to gain trust of those who read what I write.

After wondering if my blogging was too much, one day, it happened. While hanging out in Flight Com, the subject of being new to the company came up.

One of my flight physicians said, “You know you are a part of Aero Med when you finally make Emily’s blog.”

Everyone chimed in, agreeing. Being part of my blog was an honor, not a thing to dread.

From the beginning, it is my professional blogging policy to not mention a co-worker or publish a photo that they have not seen and approved. In fact, at one point, I wrote about an interaction with a flight communicator and took it to her. She greatly anticipated it going up and it was gratifying to share, not just the moment at the hangar with her, but have her understand what it meant to me. They trusted me.

Fast forward a few years.

We crashed.

This is the first mention I have made of it here. The reason it is so important is that was a major turning point in my personal and blogging life.

That day I posted, “I AM OKAY, WE ARE OK.”

We were lucky, but luck favors a prepared mind. Our training and attention to detail during a major incident saved those on board. As a department of the hospital we were supported beyond expectation and events that unfolded are without precedent.

It was that fateful day, however, which almost killed my blog.

I was immediately told to take down my blog as a knee jerk reaction to a horrible event.

“If I take it down, everyone will think I am dead.”

The blog stayed up.

I was on duty that day and had already dealt with my mom, sister Katie, brother Ben, and Sister Sarah believing I was dead.

Sarah is an OR nurse in the same hospital. She was scrubbed in 9 floors below the helistop. The OR team felt the impact.

“They just crashed! All four people are dead!” stated a very panicked co-worker who sprinted through the room Sarah was working in.

She had no idea Sarah was my sister.

I was a public voice and had a platform outside the confines of the hospital and organization. I knew better than to publish details, or any information at all about what we went through as a company or even my struggles as an individual. It was, and is not my place to share and I honored that.

In the months that followed, I believe I wrote a bit about minor things, but understood that I HAD to lay low and let the focus blow over us. The hospital’s social media policy at that time was, in my opinion, outdated and vague. My blog was taken to the head of the organization’s communication department.

I was scared that I was done. Afraid my voice would be silenced.

The wind was gone from my sails.

During the post crash phase, we realized that we were a Phoenix. We came away stronger and better and have grown as individuals, as a group and a department. I am even more proud to wear my flight suit and say, “I am a nurse in the big blue helicopter.”

The powers that be, did not silence me with a strong arm. Instead, they handed me guidance and after a time, published a well thought out, intuitive policy embracing social media. When I read it I almost cheered out loud. Not only could I keep writing, with high professional expectations, but I could finally be completely out and open.

I work at Aero Med.

On the upper right is a disclaimer. I am not an official voice of Spectrum Health. I don’t want to be an official voice. That is not my chosen profession.

What I do want to be, is proud of where I work and able to say it. I want to show others that I was given an amazing opportunity to represent nursing, flight medicine, Aero Med and in doing so will hopefully bring hope to those who need it, comfort to those who are hurting, and proof that any small town kid can do what many believe is impossible.

Even with all this,I still needed to find my voice. I needed to find that thermal which would push me back in the air, into the atmosphere where I could once again fly.

The next evolution needed to come from within me.

That evolution was a morphing. The caterpillar has been in the chrysalis long enough.

It is now time to emerge.

Today, I am happy to tell you that crzegrl.net is not going away, but becoming two blogs. The core of crzegrl.net is now FlightEMS.com. To truly represent my profession I need to focus on that profession. Instead of being an original hospital that grew with additions and towers creating a cobbled together labyrinth, crzegrl.net needed a fresh start.

It needed a new name, the new domain and a fresh set of categories and tags.

My other adventures, hobbies and interests are on a second blog. I am also proud to announce that Lucky2Be.com is where I will be sharing those. As I’ve experienced life as a flight nurse, seeing the horrible and experiencing the miraculous, it became apparent that I am so lucky to be on one gigantic adventure. Each day is part of that adventure.

As of today, the links for crzegrl.net are all the same, the RSS feed still comes from crzegrl.net. I am still very much the original crzegrl.

Lucky2Be is still in its in infancy. I am working on a complicated layout that will highlight what one small town girl can get herself into.

So thank you dear readers for making it to the end of this really long post. It is an amazing relief to be free of the chrysalis and able to, finally, stretch out my wings. Here is to hoping this butterfly will find the wind to soar.

Continue Reading

Sunrise through the Hangar—View from My Office

photo-2

Tuesday Sunrise through the Hangar Door

It has been quite some time since I posted a view from my “Office Window.” During our on-coming shift aircraft checks, I finally found a reason to enjoy the time change. I snapped this with my iPhone through a coffee treated morning haze. Looks like it will be a good weather day to fly, at least for a bit!

Continue Reading

crzegrl Guest Speaker? Yup, 2011 Michigan Trauma Symposium

“The Impact of Alcohol on Trauma”


Michigan Trauma Symp LOGO COLOR.jpg

On 24 March I am speaking at the Michigan Trauma Symposium in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Every year, the symposium rotates between the three major cities/trauma centers in West Michigan: Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and Lansing. A few months ago, our trauma coordinator called the hangar wondering if we had any good case studies to present related to alcohol and trauma. Knowing I am a sucker for such a request, my manager asked if I had any ideas . . .

. . . I said no . . .

As the fickle hand of fate would have it, I was GIVEN a case study about 3 weeks later. Quite honestly, this one is going down as #1 in my medical career of all patient’s I have had the honor of caring for. And then to be able to speak to a crowd of a few hundred people about it? Sorry, BRAG to a few hundred people about how awesome the 50+ people who cared for him in the first 2 hours post injury were?

Priceless.

Continue Reading

Chaos and Not Much Order–How to get things done

I must, on an almost hourly basis (or even more frequently!), remind myself that planning my work day is neigh unto impossible. Not only is it impossible, but even after starting on a project or task that being interrupted too many times to count is to be expected.

Take for example a normal shift. Today, I was expecting to arrive at our main base and travel by ground (get in a car and drive for you land lubbers) to our second base after meeting the rest of the crew. Normally, the aircraft is left overnight at our second base and we meet it there.

Today, however, the aircraft was at our primary base. And the weather is crap. (Or IFR for you air lubbers). So, instead of being in a quiet office with space to work and expected interruptions like shift briefings and flight requests, I found myself discombobulated, without quiet work space, and constantly pulled in so many directions I was feeling like rubber girl. (get your mind outta the gutter) Yup, I am working out of our primary base. Read–work plans foiled.

Did I get a lot done? Arguably. Am I straight exhausted from the chaos? Absolutely.

And my presentation is still not getting done. Now I am so overwhelmed I am having difficulty concentrating. Oh, yeah. I was planning on arriving at our second base, doing my daily flight nurse duties and sitting down to about 8 hours of book/computer work.

Heh, even my post is disjointed and chaotic.

How does a girl who has a bunch to do, but works in disorder and chaos get anything done? Heh, and to think I am here to FLY!!! 🙂

I need a nap.

Instead I am going to work on my PowerPoint presentation while hiding on our mezzanine with the intubation heads and stretchers.

peace and quiet
Continue Reading

A Flight Nurse’s Dream Product: SwabFlush Receives FDA Clearance

So many times when flying a very ill or injured patient, finding the alcohol swabs is monumentally difficult. As with everything else we do, how incredible when we are able to remove steps from a simple, but essential process.

Hmmm, but what I really wonder about is the cost. And if they can figure out a way to use these things on the absolutely worthless IV tubing that still requires some sort of needle-less whatcha-ma-jig to pierce a membrane.

My solution to part of the healthcare money crisis?

MAKE ALL TUBING/CONNECTORS COMPATIBLE!

 

But I digress, as I so often do.

See more on Medgadget.

q3ukt9zw.png

Excelsior Medical has received FDA clearance for its SwabFlush IV catheter flush syringe. 75hdtg.png

It is basically a standard syringe pre-filled with saline for flushing IV lines after delivering medications. However, in the plunger it features a disinfection cap (the SwabCap) for needleless IV connectors. When applied, the cap covers the connector, protecting it from contamination. Furthermore, as the cap is twisted onto the threads, a foam pad inside the cap is compressed, releasing 70% isopropyl alcohol bathing the connector’s top and threads. The integrated cap should make it easier and more convenient to follow protocols and reduce IV catheter related infections. It comes as a 10mL flush syringe pre-filled with 3 ml, 5 ml or 10mL of saline. Video explaining the SwabCap mechanism:


Continue Reading

I think I have Information Deprivation Disorder

While doing a clinical rotation in OB last week, which is required for my position annually, I was bordering on a minor anxiety attack. For the first time in a very long time, I was without my cell phone.

Today, while working on all of my social media accounts, surfing the web and watching Twitter simultaneously, I came across a Tweet—

@LaurenCandito: New on the SMS Blog: Many show withdrawal symptoms after 24 hours without technology

During brief period standing in line at the market, I have found myself reaching for a phone I left in the car, realizing that I no longer am able to just stand still and occupy myself without a digital distraction. After having it happen on more than one occasion, I thought that I may have an issue until that day last week in clinical.

I reached for an absent mobile.

I reached for missing paper & pen that is my backup distractor and battery-less blogging tool.

There was no way to distract myself.

I almost panicked.

Then the link to the above post.

I may have Information Deprivation Disorder.

I need to get over it.

Continue Reading