Wednesday, June 30

Rookie Mistake # XXX

Another rookie mistake added to my portfolio. Our town has a wonderful 4th of July parade that looks like something straight out of Norman Rockwell. Of course our two ambulances are part of the parade. When I saw the slots open for driver for the parade I waited to put my name up. I figured the Chief or Assistant Chief, or someone else who has been around for a while, should get to drive. What could be more fun? Waving to the kids, throwing candy, hitting the siren on occasion. So I held off and waited for someone who deserved the slot to take it.

After a week, I was shocked that there were few people on the board for the 4th, and still no driver for the parade. Thinking people must be planning to be out of town I grabbed a driver slot. I was excited that I snagged such an easy and fun opportunity.

So, what’s the problem? Well, I will admit I did not think things all the way through. First, if you are going to have a piece of machinery in a parade, do you want it clean and polished or dirty? The answer is obvious. Now, WHO, do you think, is responsible for making sure the rig look presentable in the parade? Yes, you are proving smarter than I... The driver! So, I now know that if people don’t sign up for something fun there must be a reason and that it is worth asking before thinking you’ve pulled off a coup. At 0800 on Saturday I’ll (along with some fellow newbies) be polishing the rig and getting ready for an 1100 parade.

It better be fun.

Monday, June 28

Rational Budgeting?

No EMS calls for me since Wednesday despite being on call for 30+ hours since then. Healthy folks I guess.

Earlier I wrote of taking over some additional administrative duties this coming year at the institution for which I work. Officially those duties begin July 1, but the transition has already begun. Something new for me will be being in charge of a budget with people coming to me with requests. What prompted this entry was something I learned about how our budget system works. To understand what caught my attention it is worth knowing the system to which I grew accustomed.

My post-doctoral fellowship was at the National Institutes of Health. At NIH, at least when I was there, the budget cycle could best be described as comical were it not for the fact that the dollars involved came out of taxpayer pockets. Everyone at NIH wanted more money in his or her budget. I never heard anyone, and I mean anyone, say (in an official context) “Oh no, we are fine with what we had last year, please give any extra to someone who needs it”. Given everyone played this game, there was an interesting phenomenon that happened around the end of a budget cycle. At some point before the end of a cycle a lab chief or section chief would come around and ask you to type up a list of needed equipment along with cost and a justification. Then, some days or weeks later, you would be asked to type up a list of WANTED (big difference between a need and a want!) equipment. Usually, but not always, there would be a third request that was on the order of “find something else to buy”. The first time I saw this happening I started asking questions. The short version of the answer as to what was going on is that if you had any money left in your budget at the end of a cycle you lost that money AND next years budget was reduced. It was insane. Even if you could get by on less you did not because of a fear that next year you would actually need your full budget and you couldn’t afford to have it cut. I saw people buy stuff that sat in the original box until it was sent to surplus. Insane I tell you.

So, to the present. As I am getting information on how to manage my new budget I asked how we handled things at the end of a budget cycle. I got a strange look and was asked what I meant. I gave the person I was talking to a quick run-down of the above and he just shook his head. Here, it turns out, if you have money at the end of a budget cycle you turn it back into the institution. This is a GOOD thing in their minds. You are not punished by having your budget cut. According to him, if you run a little short you ask for more, and if you are running in the black you give some back. Seems like people buy what they NEED vs what they want (or dream about), and try to help the system vs abuse it. While there may be a more rational way, this system is WAY better than the one I saw in place at NIH. Enough to give a fiscal conservative an apoplectic fit.

Saturday, June 26

Number Six?

I’ve been a fan of Lance Armstrong for a LONG time. World Champion at 21. Winner of a stage in the Tour de France. Watching him in person at the old Tour de Trump and Tour Dupont, I was a fan during this early period and shocked and depressed when he got cancer. Amazed when he survived. Even more amazed when he returned to racing.

One week from today the Tour de France (TDF) will start. The tour is a three-week bicycle race that pushes the limits of human physical performance. Imagine a three-week automobile race that is based on discrete races. Drag racing, NASCAR, hill climb, F1, sprint cars etc. Each day each competitor gets a time from when they start to when they end. At the end of three weeks the person with the lowest combined time is the champion. Obviously, on a day-to-day basis, different people will win. Some are drag specialists. Some are NASCAR specialists. But a very special driver, with the right team, equipment, and a lot of good fortune, will do well in all events. This is the TDF except the engines are human. Power. Speed. Climbing prowess. Endurance. Decision making ability. Individual strategy. Team strategy. People reading ability. Team dynamics. All of these have to work for you to win the TDF. One slip, one day of not eating right, one poor decision, one day in 20 where your body isn’t in top form (virus anyone?) or your equipment fails you, and it is over.

This year Lance Armstrong (with considerable help from his US postal team) will try to win an unprecedented 6th tour title. To win two tours in a row is as impressive as winning two super bowls, World Series or NBA playoffs in a row. Five? Barely believable. Six? Six total has never been done. Six in a row does not seem possible. Yet it could happen this year. And, to add to the excitement, this year the tour has more real contenders than any of the past five. The German Jan Ulrich, perhaps physically more talented than any other cyclist in the world, and seemingly in great shape (Ulrich has a hard time maintaining his weight in the off season but this year looks lean and ready to rock), is Lances main fear, and rightfully so. The American Tyler Hamilton, growing out of his role as Lance’s faithful lieutenant in the mountains and now riding as the head of his own team. Hamilton put in a gutsy performance last year, finishing fourth after riding most of the race with a broken collar bone, and based on recent results is in really great form right now. The Spaniard Iban Mayo who is also ripping up races left and right. Of course there are others in the large peloton who could win as long-shots.

The line-up for this year’s tour is exciting without any history going into it. Add Armstrong’s well published history with cancer, the relationships between Jan, Tyler and Lance, and the fact that Armstrong is going for number 6, and you’ve got to follow the tour this year.

I can’t wait.

P.S. My Prediction:
1) Lance
2) Tyler
3) Jan

(more based on my heart than my brain...)

Wednesday, June 23

My First Call as “In Charge”

At 0232 today our pagers went off for “80’s male with catheter removed”. I was on the board from 0000 to 0600 as the “significant other” (S/O). A full crew for us is a driver, paramedic or “medic” (paramedic or AEMT-CC), EMT and a S/O. The S/O can be anything from a medic to someone with no certifications but who knows where everything is on the rig. We get out “ALS” if there is a medic or paramedic with us and “BLS” if there is “just” an EMT. Given the nature of the call I expected the ALS providers to fall back asleep and let the BLS people handle it. I was right.

When I got to the station there was an EMT there but nobody else. A driver materialized, we waited a couple of minutes for a medic (rescue had already rolled so we knew help was on its way) and then went out of service BLS. The EMT (well, ok, as of a few days ago the OTHER EMT) asked me if I wanted to run the call and I said sure.

The call was very uneventful, much to my pleasure. Patient was ambulatory when we got there and demanded to walk to the ambulance. I had assumed, when the call came in, that the patient must have yanked out a Foley catheter (a tube that passes through the urethra into the bladder). This guy, though, had an incision just above his pubic bone and the catheter “just fell out”. Turned out the balloon at the end of the catheter had popped and the line had indeed come out. The guy was not bleeding or showing any discharge and his chief complaint was that he needed to pee. Fairly easy call to handle as there were no significant physical findings, the guy was in a great mood, and I could ask someone else to take vitals for once.

One of the rescue guys is a paramedic who is also a representative to our state EMS council. Out of earshot to the patient he was giving hell to the nursing home telling them that they should have called for a paid transport (we don’t do transports) as this wasn’t an emergency and by dialing 911 they had tied up a fire rescue and an ambulance, which are critical limited resources in our area, as well as managing to wake a bunch of people up who have day jobs. Maybe my mind will change with more calls under my belt, but I don’t think this place abuses us as a rule and I’d rather they call when we are not needed than not call when we are. Besides, this was a great call for me to run as I got to go through all the motions without any real stress. I also got to put my name in the “in charge” box on the patient care report. :-)

Tuesday, June 22

Enjoying Austin

Re-cap of our trip to Austin TX for my half-sister’s wedding. If you come here solely for EMS or academic material you’ll want to stop now as the following is unrelated to either.

We (myself, wife, son[6] and daughter [2]) made it down with little incident ignoring the fact that at 6’2” flying coach is never something I find comfortable.

My half sister is a graduate student at UT Austin and she was the lovely bride. She rolled the dice when she was in high school and had sex with her boyfriend. The dice came up snake eyes. First issue: She got pregnant. Second issue: She found out part way through her pregnancy that her baby had Down’s syndrome. My sister and her baby’s father were smart enough to realize that their getting married would be a mistake. My sister decided to keep her baby and with a LOT of help from my father and his wife (my sister’s mother) my sister went to college and graduated with honors with a degree in chemical engineering while being a mother. You an imagine she had a very different social life (i.e., nonexistent) than your typical college student. In graduate school she met a fellow graduate student and they began dating. To make a long story less long, I don’t spend much time with this part of my family, and had never met the groom-to-be until the wedding. Being a cynical person, I wondered what was wrong with a 20 something guy who would tie himself down with a wife and a Down’s syndrome child. If I had given humanity a little more credit I would have realized there are decent people out there who can look beyond complications to see a whole package for what it is. This guy is a keeper.

The wedding was a blast and we made the wise decision to have a babysitter cover our kids while we played. While my wife and I are likely too old to dance to songs like The Quad City DJs’ “C'mon 'n Ride It (the Train)”, we did anyway, and I don’t care if I looked like a fool (which I am sure I did).

I noticed a few things while I was in Austin:

• I should learn how to two-step. Seems like most southern guys know how and it looks FUN.

• Hot tubs should not be surrounded by floor-to-ceiling mirrors. My son and I were in the hotel hot tub and when we got out I saw a fat old man drying off a six-year-old who looked a lot like my son. When I realized the fat old man was me I instantly dove into a deep depression that will only be fixed by more responsible eating and my getting back on my bike.

• OK, OK – So the above should make this statement embarrassing… If you are ever in Austin go to the “Hula Hut” (I know, it sounds bad, but trust me) and drink a “Texas Martini” followed by the shrimp enchilada. Heaven I tell you.

• Urban bats are cool. Austin is home of the largest urban bat colony (Mexican Free-Tails) in the world. We went to watch them go out for the night to feed and it was incredible. 1.5 million bats living in a city and all heading out for the evening in a 30 minute time period. Wonderful experience and my son really enjoyed it as he has been studying bats in kindergarten this year.

• Gentlemen. The males in the Austin area were just nicer, in an outgoing and public way, than males in the northeast. Holding doors, looking you in the eye and saying hello, etc. I want to stress that this is not just toward women as I experienced it in a noticeable way. I think people in the northeast are just more reserved until they get to know you, but it really does feel less friendly up here than it does in the south.

• Strange hair gene? A disproportionate percentage of the Caucasian women I saw were blond. Many with dark eye color. Many with dark roots. Freaks of nature?

• Strange body-type gene? How to state this delicately? Just how many women are small boned and thin with one part of their anatomy being large, defying gravity and very spherical? Are there statistics on the number of people getting plastic surgery as a function of geographic area? Not just the proportion who get the surgery, but the choices they make on the, ahem, “extent of enhancement”? My brother and I both noticed this, and I dare say we did not start out seeking data on this topic, but it soon became difficult to ignore. My wife claims she didn’t notice. What was SHE looking at?

• We get snow, but do they ever get heat and humidity. It was beastly hot there and I can’t imagine what July and August must be like. How do people work outside in that? You can always put cloths on when it is cold out...

While it is good to be home, I had a blast. If you get a chance to go to Austin, jump on it!

It Is Official!

I had a great time in Austin and will write up some observations soon.

We got home last night (after flying for most of the day) and my EMT card was waiting for me in the mail. I am now “certified” (why not licensed like most professonals?) as an “Emergency Medical Technician – Basic” by the state.

The state won’t tell you which questions you missed or what the answers were to the questions (in fact, you don’t ever get to see the questions again). They do, however, break your score down by area. Given different states likely test differently, I thought I’d show the breakdown of questions in my state. Below I list the area, number of questions asked in that area, the state average, and for my own purposes, my score. The descriptions of areas are straight from the state and I don’t claim to know what all the abbreviations mean.

Intro EMT training / Anat&Assmt: 9 / 8.1 / 9
Airway OBS&RESP ARRST / CPR / ADJ: 21 /18.1 / 20
Bleeding & Shock: 8 / 5.8 / 8
Soft Tiss Inj / Fx Principles: 12/ 10.1 / 11
Head, Neck & Spine: 12 / 9.6 / 12
Chest & Abdomen: 8 / 7.1 / 8
Medical Emergencies: 12/ 10.5 / 12
Childbirth / Environ Emerg: 7 / 5.7 / 7
Burns / Haz Mat / Behav Emerg: 6 / 5.1 / 6
Lifting / Extric / Ambulance Ops: 5 / 4.3 / 4

Max Possible 100 / State Average 84.8 / My score: 97
(passing is a 70)

Our class lost about 20 people along the way. Everyone who survived to the end passed the state practical exam. All but two of us passed the written exam. Interestingly, the two who failed were both from the same volunteer fire department that also runs an ambulance. That corps has only 3 (yes, THREE) EMTs total (plus one paramedic) and really needed new people so it is not good news for their chief. I don’t know how much longer they can stay in service as even now they call for mutual aid for about 30% of their calls and everyone was just hanging on waiting for the new blood to give some help.

Of course I now am at just the beginning of a learning curve that will continue as I handle calls that don’t fit with any particular “textbook case”. Clearly textbook knowledge and test taking skills alone don’t make a good EMT. I do think, however, that I have the foundation set and all the feedback I have received from my corps suggests that my people skills and decision making abilities are coming along nicely. I look forward to learning and growing out in the field.

Tuesday, June 15

Sure, I'll fly to Austin for an open bar...

I’m off to Texas Thursday for a family wedding. YEE HAW. Or something like that. We fly out Thursday and come back late Monday so I’ll be blogless for a few days.

Even with the midnight to 6am shift for more than a week I still haven’t been on a call for a while [just for the superstitious: It has been quiet. Boy, things are calm. I mean, gee, we haven't had a call in ages. I hope we don't get a call tonight. etc.] I’m on again tonight and then a hiatus until my return from the Lone Star State.

My six-year-old son wiped out on his scooter today and took some skin off his elbow (knee too, but not as bad). It was good to get some practice using dressings and bandages. Later he asked me why his elbow hurt and I told him it was his body talking to him telling him to be careful with it while it was healing. He said “Well why does it have to keep saying it”?

Very reliable rumor going around that everyone but two from my class passed the state written, including everyone from by corps (8 total) passing. While I believe it, I’ll wait to celebrate until the card is in my hand. I should have it by the time I get back from TX and know how well I did.

Saturday, June 12

If it walks and talks like a duck it is certainly a...

I have been covering a lot of shifts (42 hours worth I think) this week with no calls. I was on last night / this morning as a “significant other” from 2400-0600 and then this morning as a driver 0600-1200. It figures that the one call I get is as a driver…

1110 our tones go off: “----ville rescue, *AC ambulance, EMS call, XX North main street in ----ville. 45 year old male with chest pains”.

----ville is just at the edge of our district, and due to the farmers market going on it takes me a tad longer to get to the station than I would like. As I’m responding to the station I hear “*AC ambulance monitors be advised that rescue is on the scene reporting that your patient has chest pain radiating through his neck and arm and a history of two prior MIs”. Hmm, my pulse kicks up a bit more (I also wonder if “be advised” is redundant in this sentence…).

A medic and EMT are in the rig, with the rig running and out of the bay, as I swing into the station parking lot. I call us out of service ALS as the medic and EMT are in the back getting the monitor and IV set up. We respond quickly to the scene and make it there in 6 minutes (this is good time given the distance). Rescue has a fire-police guy waiting for us, having blocked traffic and done a great job of letting us safely get the rig into the house.

What do we find? A patient who is upright, conscious, good color and chatting up a storm. His stated symptoms are all consistent with an MI, but he doesn’t LOOK like he is in trouble. Realizing I am new at this game and have a lot to learn, I file away in my memory banks that a patient having an MI can look great [HINT #1].

IV, cardiac monitor, etc. Patient refuses nitro as he doesn’t like the way it makes him feel [HINT #2]. Patient telling jokes and smiling between grimaces [HINT #3]. We are on scene for 8 min and out the door making our best time to the hospital.

At the hospital we get the patient settled and are working on the paperwork, cleaning the rig, etc., when the doc comes out. To make long story short, not only was our patient not having an MI, but he has never had one in his life! Doc claims guy THINKS he has a heart condition but he does not.

Hmmmm. I know there is a lesson to be learned here, but I’m not sure what it is…

Thursday, June 10

New Vehicle Added to the Stable

FAQ list for my new vehicle

Q: What color is it?
A: Orange and Black

Q: How many passengers will it carry?
A: Driver only.

Q: Two doors or four?
A: No doors.

Q: Convertible?
A: No, always open to the sky.

Q: What kind of MPG do you get from it?
A: I’ll never know as it has no odometer. It does have an hour meter, however.

Q: How fast does it go?
A: 7 mph forward and 3 mph in reverse.

Q: What kind of engine is that sucker runnin?
A: 23 hp Kohler – Made in Wisconsin, USA

Q: Turning radius?
A: ZERO baby! That’s right, she’ll spin in place.

Q: You realize you are an uber-dweeb for getting excited about a new lawn mower?
A: Yes. And I don't care, because *I* have a new lawn mower. Ha.

No honey on the side or ‘vette, but I got me a new lawn mower, and that is WAY better because lawnmowers don’t give you VD, ask you to leave your wife and kids, cost way too much in insurance or give you a heart attack when they get scratched. They DO warm up to you when you want them to and wait patiently when you ignore them, you can drive them as fast as they'll go and never get a ticket and you can operate them while drinking a beer. They also cost a LOT less than the other two options.

Tuesday, June 8

He MAY get in trouble for this...

The EMS network has a link (click on the title of this post - it's ultimately from the Cedar Rapids, IA gazette) to a story of a firefighter accused of taking a rig out for a spin while over the legal limit (he allegedly blew a 0.158). The best part of the article is this wonderful news:

---begin quote---
The Fire Department does not have a written policy for operating equipment while intoxicated, but Gehl may face disciplinary action, Hulett said.
---end quote---

Hulett is the Fire Chief. Gehl is the accused fire fighter.

First issue: No written policy. Hmmm. This, actually, I can see, as it SHOULD be pretty clear. But still, doesn't YOUR agency have a written policy on this issue? For my corps the official rule is no EtOH for 8 hour before your shift, no taking calls while intoxicated on alcohol or drugs, no alcohol or drug use while on duty, etc. I had assumed this is the norm, but perhaps not. How about it guys? Does your SOP mention drugs or alcohol?

Second issue: "May face disciplinary action..." MAY? MAY? You mean if you are busted for driving the firetruck and blow above a .15 you MAY get in trouble? I hope the chief means that IF if his convicted THEN he will be in trouble. Makes you wonder though.

Can you imagine how tragic this could have ended up?


Monday, June 7

Child Abuse vs Vasovagal Syncope

Saturday we had two calls, both of them mutual aid for the same department (let’s call them “M Ambulance”) to our north. “Mutual aid” is an agreement between departments to cover each other in specific circumstances. My guess is that in big cities these circumstances are limited to when there are a lot of calls. Around here, circumstances calling for mutual aid include things like: a department’s single ambulance is in for repairs; a department’s one active medic decided to spend the night with Jack Daniels; the fire frequency is down so they can’t hear their pages, etc. I don’t know why “M” wasn’t getting out Saturday, but is was certainly a nice day out, and I could have used that time…

Relatively early in the day I hear our neighbors get toned out for “a 10 year old female with injuries to the face, uncontrolled bleeding and difficulty breathing”. Given the time (before 0800 – I don’t know exactly when because it was before coffee could engage my hippocampus), I doubted that the kid was outside playing. Given the news in the paper Sat morning (a two-year old died from burns inflicted by her mother – she spent several days at home before mom decided there was a medical emergency), I was thinking the worst. I just don’t know why, but I could feel that M Ambulance was not going to get out and I headed down to the station just in case. I had just gotten to the station when we were toned out to the call. Within four minutes we had our chief, a driver, a medic and me rolling.

We walk in the door see the patient lying on the floor with her head on a pillow and a blanket over her. Mom is on floor stroking patient’s forehead and dad is standing looking embarrassed.

Initial assessment of patient: Alert and oriented X 3. Rescue has taken a full set of vitals and they are all within the normal limits. Patient looks fine – skin, eyes, smile all indicate a healthy and happy kid.

All three tell the same story: Family is in bed snuggling and mom and daughter move at the same time, with mom’s elbow connecting with patients nose. Profuse bleeding starts, at which point mom (who has a history of “fainting at the sight of blood”) starts to panic a bit. Daughter subsequently begins to react and, according to dad, “blacks out”. How long had she been bleeding before she went out? Less than 15 seconds. Both mom and dad claim they doubt the blow to the nose was hard enough to cause LOC. Daughter is smiling the whole time and joking about getting her mom back. No headache, nausea, vomiting or dizziness. Pupils are equal and reactive to light, her smooth persuit eye-movements are fine, and she reports that it was the blood that caused her to “freak out”.

What about difficulty breathing? Parents describe a mild case of hyperventilation which stopped when they gave the patient some TLC and told her things were going to be OK.

We leave the patient in care of her parents with instructions to call us or go to the ER if headache, nausea, sleepiness, etc. emerge over the next 24 hours. Dad apologizes profusely for calling us out, saying he should have known his daughter would react to blood the way his wife does. We, of course, tell him to never hesitate to call us as it is better to call when we are not needed than not when we are…

Second mutual aid call of the day was cancelled en route. I HATE getting my adrenaline pumping, dropping what I am doing and getting down to the station, on the road, only to have dispatch call us off one minute from the scene.

Friday, June 4

Boring for you, great experience for me…

The call below is standard boring stuff for those of you with EMS experience, but for me it was exciting as I got to run the call, it was a call that should have been ALS but we had no ALS, and I got to write the PCR (patient care report).

Pager went off last night at 2350 with a 90 female with chest pain. The address sounded real familiar. As I stumble out of bed I realize the address means that the patient is likely the landlord of one of our medics. I assume at this point she has ALS real quick (i.e., our medic is home and walked down the stairs in hope of a free months rent).

At the station I see one of our EMTs getting the rig out. She is the chief’s wife and was driving home from work (she is an RN) when her husband calls her on the cell and asks her to go on the call. He shows up a couple of minutes later and we are off with a crew of three (the chief and his wife, both EMTs, and myself). On the way there they tell me I need to run the call. I ask where ALS is and they tell me we have no ALS tonight and it will be good practice for me to deal with this common occurrence.

Nothing really eventful going on with the patient. Pulse was 60 and regular (pacemaker), BP 120/70, respiratory rate 22 and regular (little high, but she had neighbors, three firefighters and three ambulance workers in her small bedroom), skin warm/pink/dry, and she is alert and oriented X 3 . She denied pain radiation, nausea or vomiting, loss of consciousness, tingling or numbness and difficulty breathing. Supplemental O2 via NRB brought considerable pain relief. We didn’t mess around at the scene and made it to the hospital in 2 minutes. “Resource” (medical control) handled my report just fine and didn’t skip a beat when identified myself by ambulance (usually one says “This is EMT ”, but I am not about to make that statement until it is true so I said “This is ”.

Going over the call with the others they claimed they wouldn’t do anything differently than I did. This whole event went as well as I could have hoped. I know I am not ready to really run a call without experienced oversight, but I am getting closer!

Thursday, June 3

If you ever find yourself on the academic job market...

here are three tips for the interview process.

1) Pretend like you are interested in your own work. If you can't be bothered to be excited about what you do, why should we be? I realize that after 2 to 4 years of working on your project some of the guild has come off the lily, but you MUST have thought it was interesting and important at some point, right?

2) There may be no correct answer to "Do you have any questions for me?", but an incorrect one is "No". If you can't think of a single question to ask regarding the institution, consider asking the questioner something about him or her, or the town / supermarket / bar scene / recreational facilities / worship halls / schools / SOMETHING.

3) If you are giving a talk to people in the science division: "THESE DATA!!!". The word "data" is plural. This data set. This datum. These data. If you say "this data" four times in your job talk you are going to say it to the students and that is BAD. [NOTE: Yes, I know that a linguist may say the word "data" is in "transition" and headed toward the singular use being OK. Not in the sciences!]

I'm not saying the above came to mind during the interview process for candidates for the one-year replacement position we have, but they could have :-).

Tuesday, June 1

HOW much does it all weigh?

No EMS calls for me over the weekend even though I was on a lot. I did miss a bleeding penis and rectum (two separate calls). I am very sure we did not cover what to do with a hemorrhaging penis.

A lot of time the last few days spent preparing an area for this HUGE new playset for my kids. 20 cubic yards of pea gravel spread over an area approximately 30 feet x 40 feet (enclosed by pressure treated 4x4's stacked two high). Two dump truck loads dropped off to be carted and spread by hand.

How hard can it be I thought? I shouldn't have "thought", I should have done the math. If I had, I would have hired out a small front loader to do the work...

approximately 3000 lbs per cubic yard of pea gravel X 20 cubic yards = 60,000 POUNDS of material we moved around. I hurt in places I didn't even know I had.

Damn kids :-)

My promise to myself: I'm not moving that gravel again. When the kids leave home I'll have a nice rock garden.

... I wish the state would hurry up and grade those EMT test...