About Amy Umble:
Amy Umble is health reporter for The Free Lance-Star

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If you summon the squad, help them by turning on the porch light

Dr. Michael Goeden

I smiled in recognition at two things Dr. Michael Goeden said during a recent interview. Both were about rescue squad duty. One was about taking a blood pressure in the back of an ambulance. The other concerned finding the patient’s home.

Goeden is a former ER doctor at Mary Washington Hospital and is now part-owner of Prime Care, the urgent care clinics in Spotsylvania. He’s also the only doctor in the area who’s running rescue squad calls. I talked to him recently about volunteering with Fredericksburg Rescue for a story, available here, that appeared in Sunday’s paper.

I slapped my thigh in delight when Goeden described the trouble he had hearing a patient’s blood pressure in an ambulance. He even bought a new stethoscope to replace the one he’d used for 25 years, figuring that might be the problem.

I, too, struggled with blood pressures when I ran with Fredericksburg Rescue. To be honest, I had a hard time hearing a blood pressure anywhere, but it seemed especially bad in the ambulance.

I remember asking others if maybe the sound of a blood pressure through a stethoscope was at a range that I no longer heard. The person usually answered with a puzzled look and some variation of, “Don’t worry, you’ll get it.”

I also nodded in recognition when Goeden described the frustration of trying to find a patient’s home. He said: “You’ve got your lights and siren on, and you’re going down a street you’ve never been on, trying to find a house that you’ve never seen before.”

So true.

I wish patients knew how hard it can be for the squad to find them, especially at night. Picture the dispatcher telling the crew that they have an emergency illness at “1200 Dandridge.” In a few seconds, the crew has to figure out where Dandridge Street is (It’s by the main entrance to UMW), the best way to get there, the side of the road where the house will be located, and which house it is.

I can’t count the times I wished that someone inside the house had turned on a porch light or opened the front door, or even better, had gone to the curb to flag us down. Simple things that mean so much.