It was a little over 400 days ago that I was transferred to our Department’s Airport Division.
As a result my posts went from being QI centric to almost non-existent.
With that in mind I thought I’d share some of the more interesting things about life as the paramedic supervisor at a busy international port:
First you will get to know the CDC and customs officials really, really well. Every time someone barfs on an International flight it could be the next ebola so everyone needs to be on their A game.
Second, you carry a lot of triage tags. I mean, a lot. I likely carry more in my buggy than your entire Department. Keep in mind some of the aircraft landing here are configured to carry just under 600 passengers. Add to that we get as many as 5 of them in house at a time and you can imagine the amount of tags we stock.
Third, it looks like there is a lot of downtime but dang FAA, can we get any more training? 11 distinct disciplines must be covered annually, PLUS a live burn certification requirement that can’t be met locally (environmental issues and drought an all… burning all that oil and fuel, then spraying water on it) so it’s off to Dallas at 0’dearlord in the Morning once a month for the 4 hour flight, 20 minute drill and 4 hour flight. And all of that is on top of the structural and medical training. Groan…learning…
Fourth, we have a remarkably robust Public Access Defibrillator program with 96 units deployed throughout the campus.
Fifth, I volunteered to run that program before realizing how far a walk it is to all 96 (There were only 92 back then, but still). Let’s just say I don’t need a treadmill.
Sixth, alerts can be scary. We have three levels of alert ranging from Alert 1 (a condition with the aircraft that, if left unchecked, will not likely impact the aircraft or passengers) to Alert 2 (a condition with the aircraft that, if left unchecked, will likely impact the aircraft or passengers) and an Alert 3 (It is already happening).
I have had only 2 Alert 3s so far, one was a false alarm and the other a helicopter crash.
There is a lot more admin stuff here than was in the brochure. We’re teaching this to those folks and that to these folks, meeting with them about other stuff and over and again, but at the end of the day being back in the firehouse was the right decision for my family. It was tough stepping away from the QA desk and I lost some chances at other spots in the process, but we’re doing good things here.
I’ll leave you with how I describe work when people ask me,
“How are things at the Airport?”
Planes go up, planes come down, IN A CONTROLLED FASHION.
Do you have a question about EMS in an International Airport? Drop me a comment here or on Facebook and I’ll answer it if I can.