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Clabs!December 10, 2006

You already know that I'm an EMD, an emergency medical dispatcher. We're the ones who give the medical instructions before the paramedics get on scene. And while that sounds cool, sure, all we're really doing is reading instructions from a computer screen. I ask if you're breathing normally and depending on your answer, the computer (or flip chart, when the computer crashes) tells me what to ask next. Choose Your Own Adventure medical instructions. It's not difficult. Freaky and hard to control sometimes, sometimes sad and difficult to hear, but I like it.

I enjoy talking people down. I like being the calm voice, the person who's helping, the one who reminds them to breathe. I love hearing babies being born. I love telling a kid they've done a great job when they call for help. I love reassuring people that if the baby is crying like that, he's getting enough air and isn't choking anymore.

I don't like it when I could be helping give CPR instructions but instead they're holding the cell phone away from their body, screaming and running in a circle around a parking lot. I don't like being the last person someone talks to. I don't like Vonage phones. (Remind me to do a post on Vonage sometime soon.)

But I learned something new and interesting tonight.

One of the questions for a person with chest pain is whether or not she is clammy.

Which, if you have a bad cold, comes out, "Are you clabby?"

There was a long silence, as the patient tried to puzzle that one out.  I suppose I would worry, too, if someone vaguely medical wondered if I were clabby. Crap! Clabs? Have I got them? I don't know! Maybe? I bet I do! Oh, crappity crap! Clabs! I just knew it! That's what that was!

(My second favorite recent one was when I asked a woman if she had a history of heart problems. She was exceedingly affronted and said, "No! But I'm planning to." You can't make this stuff up.)


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i hate vonage phones too! i'm 9 mos. pregnant, and my husband can't drive. we have to switch to a new phone service because vonage tends to randomly stop working on us, and there's no way that's happening when we need to be calling someone to get me to the hospital! now if i could just get my sister to put her stupid cell phone in her bedroom at night...

I almost called 911 yesterday....not fun stuff. I can't imagine being the person on the other end of the phone when a parent calls in with a 4 year old child who can't breathe. Scary shit.

well I'd feel better immediately if you answered my 911 call, just sayin'. but sheesh. having and emergency AND clabs? now that's scary.
i know you get paid for it, sweet, but THANK YOU for doing what you do. big time.

De-lurking to say I feel your pain on vonage. I am a dispatcher, in SC, and I actually had a call from Japan because someone forgot to change their address and emergency contact phone information. Good thing it was a misdial. So go ahead and write that rant on vonage.
Also, you are so lucky you have EMD on the computer we still use those clunky charts. (hint: amputation is not a page. It is under trauma. ask me how I found this out Sunday night.)

clabby! that cracked me up to no end. i don't know why, but i'm still chuckling... have you ever thought of compiling your funny or bizarre experiences into a book? i'm sure if you got a bunch of dispatchers together, oh! the stories you could tell!

I thought of you this morning when my Hubby and I were up at 2am to head to Diamond Head to help set up the aid station for the Honolulu Marathon.

We set up and worked the first leg of the race for the Navy booth.

All I could think over and over was, "These people are CRAZY." Don't they know they could be on the couch watching TiVoed NSIC episodes?

I just walked in the door, and I'm tired just from watching.

I have some serious respect for you now, Chica.

That's a classic. You must have a lot of interesting stories...

Hee clabby! Is it really much worse than having clams? (snort I'm so funny! I need more cold meds)

My goal is to never talk to you while you're working.

Did I ever mention what a haven of peace you guys are? Oh, I know it is way more exciting to be drivng the firetruck and the the ambulance, with the whoop whoop whoop and the siren and the lights and all the negihbors coming out....but really, whoever is on the other end of that phone is the real lifesaver. When Darling had his stroke, YOU were the ones who kept me on an even enough keep to give the EMT's some real information...instead of telling them I was working on this sock with a size 2 DPN...did they want to see? So maybe no one ever tells you how helpful you are, but no MATTER how it ends up, you are the ones we rememeber.

You're right, you can't make this stuff up! Clabby is really too funny. I'd love to hear your rant about vonage. I almost switched to it, but decided against it and one of the reasons was because it was of the 911 service info.

Oh, no. The dreaded clabs. I've heard of this affliction and I hope and pray myself nor any of my loved ones suffer. I don't know what I would do if I discovered I was clabby. ;)

hubby is clabby but I think it is because he has a cold too. ;)

I've never understood those run around screaming in circle people - I am one of those boring persons who stays calm during the trama then about a day later breaks down and has a good cry. People think I have no emotion - HA - I'm the one who crys at commercials.

I am so terrible. I am laughing. Of course I am a Nurse and we laugh when no one else does.


And then there's the woman who called me and wanted the "Maternity Award" (she meant ward). All I could do to say "better you than me, honey". Or the woman I offered to transfer her call to "Screaming Mammography" ...

To NOT say "better you than me ..."


Clabs. That's funny. What's the deal with Vonage?

so with vonage, you do get what you pay for?

so when you get to tell a little kid that they've done a good job, do you cry? because i know i would.

I think I read somewhere that the cure for clabby is to knit a claboutis.

Sorry. I had to say it.

That was a fantastic post :) I couldn't help but laugh out loud. At least you have things like that to help with the really hard aspects of your job. You are an amazing person to do something so incredible. It isn't the medical part that makes you amazing, it's the emotional stability and the kind heartedness that we all admire.


Totally funny! Definitely want to hear your rant on Vonage, too! I am feeling slightly clabby today, think I can call in sick?

Are you sure that you don't want to become an EMT-B and join us in the field??? Without you, I wouldn't be able to go out on the calls. And are you sure that you said clabby not crabby? I mean some of the patients are really crabby which is why I prefer the engine.

Hey Rach - thanks for that post! It made me laugh, and I can so totally identify with your job. Totally, man. It's the greatest job in the world when you can be the help that someone needs. (and kind of poopy when there's not much you can do)

It's funny what people think they heard when someone has an accent. I bet she thought you asked if she had had a hysterectomy.

This made me laugh helplessly. Thanks.

Just wanted to say thanks for publicizing the "clabbiness" as a symptom of a heart problem. When my husband had a heart attack (45 yrs old, no history, no risk factors), it was the fact that his hands were cold & clammy that made me say we were going to the hospital. I didn't know what it was, but I knew it wasn't right. (Luckily, his heart turned out to be fine, it was a blood clot due to dehydration)

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