When I was a precepting medic, I had a young boy as a patient. I heard a rumbling sound and my preceptor said “Look out!”
Not a second later, the boy vomited all over me.
“You’ll learn to recognize the signs,” my preceptor said, handing me a towel.
The mark of an experienced medic is their ability to avoid vomit, blood and other bodily fluids.
I recently wrote about a bloody call and the coda to the story was that neither my partner not I had a speck of blood on our uniforms, despite the scene and the back of the ambulance looking Mansonesque. “I’m no rookie” my partner said when another EMT commented on his immaculate appearance.
I ended up cutting that section to keep the focus on the benefits of whole blood administration. And I didn’t want to appear boastful about the clean uniform.
This week, I had a patient with wheezing without an asthma history, headache, and fever. For what it was worth she had no COVID contacts that she knew about and she was vaccinated. Unlike the early days of the pandemic, I wore only a face mask and gloves. I know I am not the only one who has let their guard down. I hardly ever see anyone gowned up like we used to. My bad. I hope she didn’t COVID, but you never know. At least I am double boosted, and had my mask on.
I gave the patient a breathing treatment and put in an IV, and gave her solumedrol and Zofran (she had vomited earlier). I was pushing the Zofran when I heard the rumble. I did my paramedic ballerina move as well as I could while still pushing the medicine. She vomited forcefully into the nebulizer mask, which deflected the vomit’s natural course. I felt a light warm spray on my face as the vomit was dispersed into the air, and then a second round (the mask now removed), drenched my knee.
I wiped my face and leg with a towel and continued my care, telling the patient not to feel bad. She wasn’t the first patient to vomit on an EMT. All part of the job. No worries.
I am sure it won’t be the last time I am vomited on, but I hope it is. I wonder if it was just bad luck or maybe a sign of declining skills, slowing reflexes. We can’t stay on the top of our game forever, I guess.