OK, i have decided to start writing about my experience here. It is now Super Bowl Sunday and currently I am sitting in quarters thinking about all I have to do ahead of me.. I would like to start by Telling my story, After my divorce i decided to chase my dream to be "Johnny and Roy" from the TV show Emergency. Fast Forward 4 yrs later...My divorce is final my son is older...i have completed EMT-B, Firefighter 1 and Firefighter 2, Haz Mat Awareness and Operations, EMT-S and Finally Paramedic..Along the way i have had Flight training and rides with UofM Survival Flight, Mercy Health (St Joe's) Med Flight and Promedica Air in Toledo.. Now out of school. What next? As I research what i can do with my new career as a Firefighter/Paramedic..I have looked into Offshore, Remote, Contract, Flight All exciting and will hopefully go along way to apeeze my adrenaline needs! As I did my research and applications I learned allot along the way and met allot of really awesome people along the way both online and in person. My first call was for contract medic in Kuwait or Afghanistan. I completed the online application on a wed on Thursday I got a Email for more info, which i did then on Saturday morning i received a phone call while at work saying they needed me in Florida on Sunday.. They faxed me a contract to my station i signed and faxed back. they then said they needed me in Florida for a full week. I took PTO and got coverage for a shift and was able to make it work...This just happened to be my Kelly week...I was then sent a E-ticket and flight itinerary. WOW... had to catch my breath! To make a long story short that contact offer is still on the table, contingent on the security clearance which i am still waiting to get... Along the way i had a couple other offers for contract medic in the Middle East.. THEN, Last October i started exchanging emails with SRCA (Saudi Red Crescent Authority) and was given a very nice offer Around the middle of November...I agreed to the terms of the contract and began the process of securing a VISA to a Islamic State..Which means their country is driven by their Religion. Since that date to present i have had to learn so much about the customs and traditions of Saudi Arabia..As the days go by my excitement and anticipation keeps growing...I expected to deploy around the middle of December..However the Saudi's have their own pace..my VISA was finally approved this last Wed.. Today i was given a choice of two travel days and I chose a week from Wed..Feb 17th..In Saudi their normal work week is Sat to Wed...Thurs. and Fri. is their weekend! So, By flying on Wed and Getting there on Thurs it gives me a day and a half to deal with the jet lag and time difference. So since this is my Kelly week which Tues is my Kelly day..A week from tonight will be my last shift here..After 5 years with this company I sit here with mixed emotions about leaving a Great company for the Unknown..I have talked with someone already there and he was quick to point out he knew what i was feeling and said once I'm over there all will be forgotten..the Excitement and exuberance is mind blowing! I will keep updated blogs here with photos and on facebook. I hope all is well and everyone is safe. I will also post my international phone number for my friends if any of you feel the need to drop me a line!
Ok, it has been a full week now in country and what a change my life has had in a couple of weeks been! We had allot to do
with our medical..GRrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr Basically we had to do our physical all over for the Health Council again..which included
the poop in a cup...(see Pic)..Well, everything game back good so I'm healthy and AIDs less..LOL they deport anyone that
has a positive HIV test...Now our next major thing todo is take all our paperwork to the Health Ministry and get our Egwuama
which is a permit to work and immigrate...so we can open a bank account, start work and get paid! AND convert our VISAs to a
multi entry/exit VISA...
Some new medics arrived in the compound this week..Chris a Flight Medic from Australia, Thom also a Flight Medic from England
and my new roommate Allen a Flight medic from Arkansas. It has been a awesome experience, just sitting around networking with other
paramedics from all over the world and to hear about them and how the patients are the same..Seems we are "Taxi Rides" in
Australia to England to Arkansas as we are in Michigan! It is interesting that in Europe and Australia the Medics are doing either Stitches
or glue and also prescribe and give anti-biotic.
Thursday is the start of the weekend here..and one of the "Handlers" Assma decide to surprise us..Because she is a unmarried women
she, by Saudi law is very limited on outside contact with us..So she had her younger brother take us on a excursion into the desert with
him and some of his friends..The Saudi hospitality is bar none the best in the world..they would not let us do or pay for anything! and remember
these are 18 to 25 year old Saudi guys..
So we went to their camp in the Desert which is a popular thing to do here..there were allot of camps set up with traditional style tents. We
were picked up in town and the King tower by Assma's brother as women are NOT allowed to drive in the Kingdom either..He was driving a new
Mercedes something with everything in it including massage seats..Drove to their house to switch to the Jeep Wrangler for our trip to the desert.
Once there we were treated to some offroading Saudi style followed by smoking sasheesh from a Hooka. It was really good kind of a
fruity flavor to it, tasted very good..... Opps let me back up..We first stopped
at a Camel Souq (Market) where all you could see for a long way was camels and camel herders...Well, we didn't get to ride one but we(my friends)
got to sample fresh camel milk straight from the camel..still had the foam on it..It didn't seem too appealing to me so I passed!
Then next prepared a traditional Saudi meal which consisted of chicken and rice..BUT you eat with your hands..OMG was very very good..
Shortly after dinner we bid our new friends good-bye and thanked them for a truly unique experience, and headed back to the compound
Where i totally nodded off as i was exhausted!
I have included my Saudi cell number and my Yahoo Internet number which is a local US number to call that goes to my PC is i am logged on if not
goes to voice mail which i will get..but my Saudi number goes right to my cell phone From US you have to drop the 0 and ad +966 sometimes you may
have to ad a 001 as well if the +966 don't work!
Hope all is well
I’m Sorry Ihaven’t written in awhile, it’s been somewhat crazy here. Plus, I am still assessing the fallout from my last Blog after my return from Europe! I would like to say that you are reading this Blog because you are friends or family. Please, do NOT re post, copy or share this version. Thank you. First, let me catch you up on everything since my last Blog and the Bombshell I dropped oneveryone…I’m sure the shock has worn off for most by now. Helen and I are doing great. NO, we have not set a date, due to all the documents and red tape we have we wade through. With this Blog, I hope to pass on the feelings of my life experiences, my adventure and to have a written account of my life here. I think most of us and I was one who takes for granted the security of the shores of the United States or for that matter any part of the free world. If you have never traveled outside of the confines of the “Land of the Free”. You can never fully appreciate the sacrifice our solders make to protect and preserve that moniker “The land of the free”. More on this later….. We get invited to many events through contacts at the SRCA (Where I work) One was the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Race.. We actually went on what was family and friends fun day, the day after the big race.. We met some royalty there Prince and Princesses. Was very entertaining and fun to be so close to the action. Idid post some photos. We were also invited to get some laps in the cars. The other guys did I stayed back and took photos! The following weekend we took a long drive into the desert about 4 hours to a small farming community. We visited a Date farm and saw how dates are produced and the work involved. I have some photographs of a building there, built by hand.Made of straw bails stacked up then covered in clay and mud then covered with concrete. The R-factor of this building must be about R-1000. The temperature outside was approaching 100F yet it must have been 50f inside even with no door at the entrance. On the way back home we ran into a major sand storm. Those from the Midwest can appreciate a “White-out” Blizzard. Well imagine sand 80mphwinds blowing us all over the road-driving rainstorm. Sand mixed with rain…Whatdo you get? MUD!!! What a mess that was with all of 10 to 15 meters visibility.I have a photo of us approaching the wall of sand. OH and the lightning are AMAZING.Wish I could capture some of the lighting bolts in photos..Because of the sand in the air the particles are charged so you see what looks a lot like “Heatlightning” back home with Horizontal bolts going across the sky except way lower to the ground. Very, awesome to see. As I cover some of my work experiences. I realize many of you are not in the medical field or EMS and may not appreciate the SHOCK value or understand my point I may or may not be making. I will do my best to break things down for everyone. I’m sure you remember Johnny and Roy? The television program that started the whole EMS system moving. This program started many dreams that launched careers of firefighter/paramedics. Well,think Pre-Johnny and Roy. Most of the labor force here are TCNs or Third Country Nationals, from mostly Pakistan or Bangladesh. Depending on their contract and how they are hired they may come here and work for 60 days then go home to be with their families for 30 days then come back to Saudi. There is allot of smoking here, coupled with the sand in the air you can imagine the respiratory calls as well as trauma are the top calls we see here. Many of theEMT-Bs here do start IVs, they don’t know why or what they are giving the patients but they start them. They also give Breathing treatments here. Just Albuterol. Well, let me back up some…I have been cleared now and I work at one of the busier stations in Riyadh. I work with one of two EMT-B partners of the 3 EMT-Bs here..Why you wonder? Because only two of them speak some English the third speaks no English at all. Which is a major challenge here. Going to a scene where I understand almost no Arabic and the patients and everyone around speaks little if any English! At my station there is an Ambulance and a Chase car. I am on the ambulance with an EMT-B and there is an Egyptian MD on the Chase car also with an EMT-B. I use the term MD very Guarded. I have heard stories BUT! I had no idea. A typical shift (from Hell) we, work our shifts in “Tours”. Two 06:00 to 18:00 shift,followed by two 18:00 to 06:00 shifts, then we are off for four consecutive days. So, we actually only work 12 to 14 shifts a month, and get two weeks off every month. Sure beats the 90-hour weeks I was used to. Something we all take for granted in the west is address! Here, you will get a street direction with landmarks. Most buildings do not have an address and the people who call for help have no idea their street address even if their building has a number. I really must give Kudu’sto our EMT-B drivers. We do not have Gamins or GPS tracking or Road Safety or even maps! Yet through several phone calls and radio conversations we usually find the scene. One, shift in particular I came in early for my PM shift. Arrived around17.30 went to the sub shop nearby and picked up a sub and soup bowl. The ambulance was out on a call when I got there. I had gotten through most of my sub when a EMT runs and an announces to me “YOU HAVE A CASE!!!” Well, I am thinking to myself how is this possible, when I notice flashing lights reflecting off the glass. So I go outside to see the ambulance by the road with lights going. This is a dual EMT-B unit. The EMT-B jumps from the back and gives me a report. Totally flabbergasted and speechless I look in back there is a patient on the cot with family on the side bench. Patient is on a Non-Re breather oxygen mask. With IV hanging. I climb in the back and start to re-assess this patient and was handed x- rays. Seems this patient was at a hospital the day before and signed out AMA(against medical advice) after being diagnoses with pneumonia. I listen to lung sounds and check the IV, that’s when I noticed the EMT hung D5W…..Which is not close to the appropriate fluid for this patient. I quickly remove the D5 and replace with Normal Saline. Then off to the hospital with full reckless abandon. Hard stops, hard corners, it was all I could do to hang on let alone think of any patient care during transport. Driving skills would be discussed at a more appropriate time. I guess the day crew didn’t want to hold over. A few uneventful calls then we get called for a roll over MVA by the freeway. In a driving rainstorm thunder and lighting and pouring rain. The drainage on the roads here are non-existent. We arrive to find a small gasoline tanker rollover a 10 foot wall landing on its top. The large crowd that had stopped like usual at these crashes pulled the driver out and had him in a car.. We then pull up within 10 feet of this overturned tanker leaking gasoline….however by shear luck we are up hill, up stream and up wind from this and with the river created by the rain the gasoline was washing away down stream away from us.There was no fire or police on scene the whole time we were there. I wasn’t too comfortable with the scene safety exercised, but I dealt with it. The MD was at the car tending to the driver of the truck as he walked the driver to the cot to be back boarded. I would normally raise a eyebrow to this but I have seen this practice many times since I’ve been here, like I said earlier, Pre-Johnny and Roy… A couple more uneventful calls, then we get a women in labor at the mall. This is fairly large mall and we are told to go to entrance #2. The entrance numbers are about 10 feet tall and easy to see from road but getting to it through the parking lot maze was something else. We had a spotter there and got on scene fairly fast The Doc on the chase car was already inside with the patient. Instructed my partner we needed the cot and a bed sheet. He grabbed a sheet and stated “No need cot.” Silly me assumed that he talked with the other EMT (in Arabic) on the radio and they told him we didn’t need it. We make our way through a large open area to escalators up a floor and down a hall we make it to the patient with the Doc and other EMT who immediately shout out “Where is the stretcher?” I turn to my partner and send him to fetch the cot with a security guard. While I started my patient assessment and find out as much as I could. The patient was with a lot of family and a lot of screaming and crying going on at a crowded mall. The guards were gathering up signs from around the mall and trying to build a screen for privacy. We get IV going and place this women who is at 27 weeks gestation onto the cot in left lateral recumbent position with her first pregnancy. I time the contractions at4 minutes. I report this finding to the Doc who replies, “This isn’t labor.”This is where I would strongly suggest to everyone in EMS or not to take a birthing class, Lamaze or any type of birthing class. I have used what I Learned in Lamaze 18 years ago several times since my son was born. I chose to ignore the Doc and continued as if she was in labor. I got into her face and started coaching her on breathing through the contractions. Her husband was right next to me translating my directions to her. All the while I was coaching her breathing, got her going on NRB mask and kept taking constant blood pressures and pulses. By the time we got to the Specialty OB hospital her abdominal pain, A.K.A Contractions were at 2 minutes apart. There is no radio communication with the hospitals here. Sometimes like with arrest or huge trauma the driver will tell dispatch where we are going and to call them and let them know. Which did not happen on this case. We came wheeling our patient in to an unsuspecting ER crew. The Doc started the report “she is pregnant unsure how long”, then reported abdominal pain….I then trumped his report with“Her contractions are 2 minutes apart. They were 4 minutes apart on our arrival and we believe she is about 7 months with her first baby.” The nurse quickly lost confidence with the Doc and turns her back to him and kept talking with me. The room quickly filled up with allot of people. The charge nurse shortly emerged from the room and come over to me to sign my report and the Doc asked her “So is it labor?” The nurse looked at him and very sarcastically “Of courseits labor!” She then turned back to me signed my report and said “Thank you”. The next call (case) I want to tell you about is an assistance call for a 1 year old.But first I want to mention if you haven’t already picked up on, is scene safety is non-existent over here, they have never heard of securing scenes. We were called to a very impoverished part of town. There is allot of tribal unity here. So going into large crowds of the same tribe is always a concern for safety. We come around the corner and we see a very large crowd around a man holding a baby. Weare being waved over to them. The man starts to take all the clothes off this baby and begins to walk to us with this large mob of people maybe 40 or 50strong! Seeing a baby involved I quickly jumped out without thinking or evaluating the situation. This man quickly confronted me. He then tosses the baby into the front of the ambulance and pins me up against the open door. He is yelling all in Arabic the crowd is very excited all yelling in Arabic. This man smells badly of ETOH and was obviously over beveraged. Apparently, this man is the father of the baby, has a long mental history and alcohol abuse problems. Was very drunk and wanted us to take his baby away. He didn’t want im anymore. He also announces, he has TB and can’t take care of the baby! OMG,I then got a little peeved. Pushed the man away from me and started yelling in English (American as the Britts like to say) for him to back off and get away from my ambulance. WELL, my outburst incited everyone. Towards the man. He was quickly swallowed up by the mob. A man came forward and took the baby from me,told me in English leave and leave now! He didn’t have to say that twice to me.I jumped back in the ambulance and we were moving before I got the door closed and we never looked back! A lesson learned. One last call I would like to tell you about. We get a call for a MVA. Fighting rush hour traffic, which is pretty much from 8am til midnight here. We get to the scene of a T-bone straight truck verses mini pick up truck. Two patients, the driver of the straight truck was brought to me with a blood all over his clothes but the laceration was hidden under his turbine. I removed his turbine to see a fully scabbed head wound with dry blood. Both patients were ambulatory and self-extricated. No head neck or back pain, numbness or tenderness. The mini pick up patient only complaint was right hip pain. Both denied any loss of consciousness and were orientated. Both patients were BLS. The hip pain patient was placed on cot due to his pain with walking. This was a very routine call.WELL, we arrive at the hospital ER and take the patient in on the cot. Then Igo to give report on the other patient and I can’t find him! I look all over and so does my partner. There is a mini police station at the ER. So I go ask the officer about my mis-placed patient. He quickly with all the style and emotion of a major league umpire says, “FINISHED” as he gave the “SAFE” signal.I asked again he repeated and gave the “safe” signal again…. I thought to myself OK THEN. The officer signed my report for this patient and I left. Later I asked my partner what that was all about and he just simply said. “The police took him”. You remember when at the beginning of this Blog, I made reference to the “Land of the FREE”? Having lived within the shores of the US for all of my life as many of you have. It’s hard to appreciate the true meaning of the “Land of the Free.” Until you venture out and see what this magnificent world has to offer. You should feel comfort in know that you can have dinner out and feel reasonably safe that the food has been inspected and the restaurant has been inspected. That the building you go into probably won’t fall on top of you because there are building codes and inspections to hopefully prevent that or wiring that most likely won’t electrocute you. You can feel safe in knowing that when you call 911 for help someone will come to help you no matter what. That you have the freedom to worship to whatever God you believe in. That if you are female, you have the right to drive a car. That if you are bitten by a poisonous snake, that your hospital of choice won’t haveonly one vial of anti venom in an area of many venomous snakes. That if you call for help at 02:00 and your 35 weeks pregnant and your water breaks and you present with possible placenta previa, that the first major specialty hospital you are taken to, won’t turn you away because their, one incubator has been loaned out, and the second private hospital, where the doctor walks right by the patient, the patient’s husband to the paramedic and tells him that theywon’t accept this patient unless they prove they can pay 15,000 sar ($4,000.00 USD)before they will even look at the patient! I have learned volumes since I have been here, both enlightening and enriching. About,myself and about my character, Most of all I have learned the value of coming from a country “For the people, by the people.” Thank God!