Friday, July 28, 2006

Diversion Notes

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Anyone who works in EMS (Emergency Medical Services), another medical field, or spends a lot of time in hospitals for one reason or another is familiar with the term "diversion". For the uninitiated, it basically means that every bed in the Emergency Room is occupied, people are stacked in the hallways like cord wood, and there's no place to put anyone else. This generally happens when there are no beds anywhere in the entire hospital to put patients in so people end up spending a lot of time in an ER bed prior to getting admitted to a floor. When that happens anyone coming in via ambulance ends up being diverted to another facility that has agreed to accept the overflow.

With the exception of the "Q" word (as in "wow, it's really quiet tonight!") there are few words that an EMD (Emergency Medical Dispatcher) wants to hear less than the "D" word. If a road crew member calls from Backus to give us a heads-up that the "D" word is being tossed around, it causes an immediate spike in blood pressure and much groaning and gnashing of teeth as it seems that invariably the only accepting hospitals are Day Kimball Hospital in Putnam or Westerly Hospital in Rhode Island - neither of which are just a stone's throw-away. Ambulances that are diverted to DKH in Putnam seem to magically disappear like hapless vessels that wander into the mysterious Bermuda Triangle and we can pretty much kiss them good-bye for the rest of the shift.

Fortunately the last time Backus went on diversion was after I had gone home for the day and was happily parked on the couch playing Animal Crossing or watching a previously recorded episode of The Closer, I forget which. My company-issued pager was on the dresser in a room upstairs where Amanda was watching TV so when it chirped I asked her to read it for me. "432 is on diversion until further notice with 478 accepting" she yelled down the stairs immediately followed by "what's that mean?" Translation: the Backus ER is full to overflowing and all patients are being sent to Windham Hospital in Willimantic until Lord knows when. Further translation: I'm glad I'm home and not at work!

Now it should be noted that children who grow up in households where either Mom or Dad work for a law enforcement agency, fire department, or ambulance company (paid or volunteer) will eventually learn to speak in code. My kids were never told 'no' but got to hear 'negative' an awful lot, we don't arrive somewhere we're 'Signal O', and if I want them to forget about something it's either a 109 or 10-54 if I'm reverting to cop-talk. For Amanda, the word 'diversion' was just another addition to her "My Mom Talks on the Radio for a Living" vocabulary.

Several days later, we were driving down Salem Turnpike on the way back from visiting my mother and as we passed The 99 Restaurant it was it's usual packed self - the parking lot was crowded with cars and people were milling around outside waiting for their names to be called. Business as per usual on a Friday night when everyone decides that it's been a long week and they need to go out to eat and relax a little. In continuing down the road, we eventually passed Old Tymes Restaurant where I noted that the parking lot was surprisingly full for a change (it's no secret that when The 99 came in some business was pulled from other local eateries). As we drove by I commented to the girls that it looked like business was good tonight.

Without missing a beat Amanda turned to me and said "The 99 must be on diversion and Old Tymes is accepting". Yep ... she's definitely my daughter!


  1. Linda,

    Heeheehee...pretty amusing article, but with a serious point. Good for you for getting that out there. For a minute, I was wondering what diversion had to do with your blog subject, but you managed to tie it in nicely. Keep 'em coming!

  2. Anonymous1:07 PM EDT

    Yeah, Amanda is your daughter, alright. Smart with a great sense of humor. Looking forward to our next pit stop.

  3. Anonymous9:28 PM EDT

    Yeah, Linda. I was supposed to get out of work at 8 PM that night, but instead ended up getting out at 10PM! Overtime is great, but
    I was one tired MiaDiva when I had to be in for work at 7AM the next day. Oh well, just another day in the life of EMS!


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