Friday, January 8, 2010

My Father Was An Ambulance Chaser Jan 2010


And he wasn't even a lawyer!  He just liked to see the action, I guess.  I used to go with him, so I was just as bad.  Not much of a stretch that I became a paramedic.

The catch is, like most of what I've done in my life, I did it the hard way.  I decided to change careers from the food business to medicine at the tender age of 46.  A whole generation older than almost all of the people I worked with.   Just look around next time you see an emergency scene, average age about 25?  Not counting the old guy with the clipboard.

In 1986, when I first went to work on an ambulance, we had gurneys that had to be lifted off the ground simultaneously by both medics in order to load a patient into the ambulance.  Then once the patient was airborne, we side-stepped in unison until the front wheels of the gurney were on the floor of the ambulance.  

In order to get the gurney and patient up off the ground, both medics would stand on either side of the gurney, squat down, grab the lower rungs of the gurney legs, and on the count of three with both eyes glued to your partner's eyes. . .lift straight up at the same time.   Using only your legs, unless you were looking for a back injury and lifetime disability. . .

Now, with the modern gurneys, all you have to do is wheel the gurney in place with the front wheels above the floor of the ambulance, and then simply lift the undercarriage up to slide the patient and gurney into the ambulance.  Pretty sweet.  

Steve Berry from I'm Not An Ambulance Driver 

The first time I ever did this, in real life, was in the middle of a leafy tree-lined neighborhood street where a lady had fallen.  My partner and I squatted, grasped the lower rung, and 1 2 3 — lifted.  Well, at least I did.   I fell over backwards in the middle of the street.  Good thing the news wasn't there.  

My partner Keith had paused on the mutual lift technique, leaving me the bulk of the weight of this patient and gurney.  Cute.  Funny guy.   Thus was my intro to ambulance work.  

Note to self:  Trust no one.  

More 911 tales to follow as they resurface. . .


  1. I never tire of reading about your interesting life. What exactly did you do in the food business?

  2. Thanks, Leslie. I did everything there is to do in the food biz, from cocktails at nightclubs in Waikiki to running a hotel in the Catskills. Spent 22 years and ended up in the kitchen at Living Foods in northern CA making gourmet-natural taste treats to sell by the pound to yuppies. I grew exotics for chefs on a small farm in No CA for awhile, that was really fun, however it was a $2/hour gig and couldn't afford to do it for long.

    And you???? What is your food experience? I LOVE your recipes, the simple way you explain everything (with great photos), and I must tell you - so do my friends! Many have told me of trying your recipes and how much fun they had and how good the food was. So there!

  3. I so would never want to be a paramedic but I totally get you on the 123 lift we do it inside the hospital also. And for sure Iv also been left as the only one lifting. Oh how I miss the hospital but apparently its not in Gods plan for me right now.

  4. Amanda: I hear you, I miss patient care too. That's why I like having Cruz Roja in my life, it serves my pt care fix.
    You'll get back into it, I have no doubt, maybe just not now. Maybe you can still volunteer somewhere for a few hours until you can go back to working in the hospital. . .

  5. What a wonderful and full experience in the food biz! I am sure that there is much that I could learn from you. My experience is no where near yours. I grew up watching my grandmother and step-grandfather prepare their native Mexican dishes. Whenever we would visit family, I loved to hang out in the kitchen to observe my aunts in action. And my mom was a pretty good cook as well.
    But the foods she prepared were very different from Grandma's.

    The only experience I've had in the restaurant biz was as a busboy and waitress! :P