Friday, December 17

I'm Back

Whew! While still in the process of grading finals, things are slowing down to a tolerable pace. The last week or so has seen the normal flurry of activity that surrounds the end of the semester (extended office hours, writing final exams, etc.) along with a test in my medic class, meetings galore (a job search, Student Conduct Board, the group that oversees the core curriculum, yada, yada, yada), etc.

EMS Stuff First

I last wrote about a call were there was a woman down at a group home. As background, this place isn’t quite a nursing home, but the people there are not in good health and there are LPNs around most of the time. The home is state funded, and it is depressing to walk into the place (the sights, sounds, and smells are not out of a vacation brochure, that’s for sure). The call came in as injuries from a fall. This home is a good 11 minutes from our station going lights and siren and there is a small fire department with a rescue squad less than two minutes away from the home. Rescue was on the scene when we got there taking a set of vitals. The patient was on the floor, lying on her right side (right lateral recumbent), and grimacing. No head stabilization. No collar. No board. “What do we have?” Seems the patient needed to go potty and while a staff member was helping the patient head towards the bathroom the patient became too heavy to handle. Down went patient. As I began to interview the staff member, she got real defensive. I just wanted to know if the patient fell or if she was eased down to the ground, but for some reason the staff member thought I was blaming her. In any event, I was convinced the patient’s C-Spine was not compromised, and got to work. “My leg hurts” was her chief complaint. She had a knee brace on her right leg. When I loosened the Velcro around her brace to evaluate her leg, she said “Ah! You fixed it! It feels great now”. Turns out the patient had fallen the night before due to her knee giving out. She had been placed in a brace and no one had checked its fit… I work miracles I tell you!

Two nights ago I had a “Car vs deer” (they really dispatch this way – “Car vs Deer” or “Car vs Tree”. In this case, the deer lost in the first round). The state cop on the scene said they had put seven (7!) deer out of their misery that day/night due to car-deer collisions. The original call came in as a car fire secondary to the colission. The fire department got there, saw the car, and decided we should come to check out the driver. By the time we got there, my patient had been out of the car for 30 minutes. As we rolled up she had Christmas presents in both arms, was walking and talking with a police officer, and her head was nodding up-and-down and side-to-side like a bobble head doll. She did not SEEM to be having issues with her cervical spine. The patient did report pain in her shoulder area (near the mid-clavicular line). She did not want to go to the hospital and was certain she didn’t want a board & collar job. I would have let her walk but both airbags went off in her car, and I am still a newbie enough that I decided to err on the side of caution and encourage her to go for a ride with us. She went along and we had a pleasant ride, though I was a bit nervous bringing in a non-collared and boarded patient. She had full movement and sensation in all four extremities, no paresthesia, and no palpaple deformities or tenderness in her neck or back. Head, eyes, ears, nose and throat were clear, GCS = 15, A&Ox3. The car itself had maybe four inches of deformity. For those of you playing along at home - Would you have pushed for her to be boarded and collared?

Medic Class
We are on a break until the new year, and ride time will start in early January as well. We had our Module 3 exam Monday. Module 3 included bleeding and shock plus trauma. I went into the exam a hair bit under-studied for the exam itself, but I had done all of the reading when it was due. I got a 95 out of 100 (they score your test right there) and feel pretty good about how I did. We move into respiratory and cardiac for Module 4, and I am really looking forward to this section as it covers what the majority of our ALS calls are in my region.

Student Conduct Board

I mentioned that I am on the student conduct board. Given how sensitive these cases are, and how at least some of you know what institution I am at, I am going to write about the board in general and I want to make clear I am not referring specifically to any case that I have had recently.

The student conduct board hears cases in one these situations:
1) Plagiarism or academic dishonesty – MUST go in front of the board.
2) Other “minor” charge where the student does not accept responsibility for their actions (if they do, they can be sanctioned by the disciplinary officer without a hearing, and this sanctioning is usually MUCH milder than they would get from the board).
3) The student is at risk of being suspended or expelled from school. This requires a hearing.
4) A student group is accused of violating university policy and risks institutional sanctioning (e.g., a singing group is accused of having new members be locked in a closet and “asked” to drink a certain amount before they can be let out).

Most of what the board hears is either plagiarism or violations of university policy that are made by someone who is already on probation. For example, the first time you are caught smoking pot, if you admit to it, you might get a “warning”. The second time you might get “probation”. Both of these would come from the disciplinary officer. Since violating probation carries the risk of suspension or expulsion, your third run-in with the system will bring you to us for a full hearing. It does happen, of course, that someone does something for the first time but ends up in front of us (arson, assault, driving while intoxicated, steeling, etc.).

Here a few examples of plagiarism that I have seen over the last X years:
1) Student has one sentence in a paper that is attributed to a source but is not in quotes even though it is verbatim from the text.
2) Student has an idea in a paper that comes straight from another source but is not attributed to that source.
3) Student has a purchased paper from an online paper mill.
4) Student used a “recycled” paper from someone who took the course in a previous year.
5) Two students (roommates) come before the board, having turned in identical papers for different sections of the same course. Turns out one stole it from the other without his/her knowledge.

The minimum penalty we can give in cases like the above is failure in the course (this is legislated). Realistically, the minimum we give is failure of the course + a warning. More common is failure and probation (which, in effect, keeps them out of law school for the next decade). Egregious cases get failure of the course and suspension, though if you try hard enough you can get expelled.

Due to how small my campus is, and how public the other types of cases we see are, I just can’t even begin to write about them. I will note that being on this board has really opened my eyes to the range of behavior college students engage in, and has taught me that people WILL look you in the eye, seem as sincere as you can imagine, and LIE, LIE, LIE.

Back to grading exams. I’ll be taking a lot of call between now and the new year, so I’ll check in a bit more often than I did this last week.