Over the past year I have spent a few hundred, possibly thousands of hours traveling the highways of Saskatchewan (Hwys 1, 4, and 7 repeat). A big part of my paycheque is thanks to inter-facility transfers. Basically we scoop up our patient at a hospital or care center in one place and transport them to another. The reasons are endless: patients in need of higher level care, continuing care, specialty care, etc.
I see a lot of roadkill.
Those of you that know me well know that I am a huge animal lover. If someone says they have a dog we are going to have a very detailed chat about breed, characteristics, appearance, funny stories- anything they are willing to share. Even if I’m a complete stranger. I’m one of those brats that if you bring your animal within arms reach I’m going to ask if I can pet them and say hello. IT’S SOOO FLUFFFFY!
I’ve never intentionally killed something in my life, save mosquitoes. In my teaching days, if I found a spider or beetle in my classroom I’d find a way to safely transport it outside (to the wondrous delight of my students).
So far on my EMS tours I have killed two birds and at least one snake. For me, these were each soul crushing incidents. I have also witnessed the death of two other birds, a deer, and a prairie dog (what the heck he was doing inner-city is beyond me but I’m sure his family is concerned about him).
Hitting an animal while transporting a person is a bizarre exchange of lives. It’s almost sacrificial. I guess I place this sort of meaning on it in order to stay sane.
I would never risk my patient or partner with dangerous maneuvers to avoid hitting something. I’ve seen some pretty devastating results of these quasi-heroic acts. BUT- if you hear me say “hold on!”…well, it’s safe to assume I mean it. If I see an animal get hit by someone else, girly screams are also likely to ensue. Try not to panic.
Spring thaw is the worst. As the snow melted dozens of broken legs and mangled carcasses began to thrust their way to the surface. The highways are long- they take a while to clean up. When you have to drive by the same roadkill every day, some of the smashed creatures become landmarkers. I know exactly when I’m going to see them. I anticipate them. And because I’m slightly dark and morbid, I watch for them. I notice how they change as they return to the earth or become something else’s meal. One day as I passed a familiar roadkilled deer I caught myself thinking, “Oh ya, there’s Arnie.” Who the heck names roadkill Arnie? This gal without enough coffee.
I have a lot of time to think on these trips… hours, and hours to be specific. I am acutely aware that I carry a knife. I also drive a heavy machine capable of crushing skulls. I’ve wondered if I ever hit something that horrifically DIDN”T die, would I have the guts to put it out of its pain and suffering?
What you are “supposed” to do is notify the local authorities. They have guns, and training. It makes sense. But on other occasions I’ve called to notify them about impaired drivers on the road, and they usually have time to get around to it the next day. They are busy. I get it. But it’s not exactly the quick and humane solution to a horrible situation I’m looking for.
I’ve also seen two dead moose lately and can’t help but wonder… why not save the meat? At least the tragedy wouldn’t be such a waste. (Imagine the look on my patient’s face as a I tried to stuff a dead moose in the back with of the ambulance so I could clean it in my apartment?) Really though…
I won’t even get into the scenarios I’ve imagined where road hazards actually resulted in injury to someone on board my unit. My imagination: a blessing and a curse.
I think being a huge animal lover can actually help make you a better driver. I am hyper vigilant, always scanning for glinting eyes or movement in the ditch. (It annoys me how many little road signs can look like eyeballs at night.) I always have a plan should a creature find itself on my blacktop path. Unfortunately some of the best laid plans are thwarted.
To be honest, roadkill kind of exhausts me.
Watch out for the kitties,
For more EMS related info on inter-facility transfers check out this post on EMS1… http://www.ems1.com/ambulances-emergency-vehicles/articles/1578920-Interfacility-transport-choreography/