Thursday, November 10, 2011


During my freshman year of college, I took a 110 hour training course to become the most basic level of a licensed Emergency Medical Technician (hi, old BEMCO friends!). When I signed up, I'd been pre-med, but so was 2/3 of the Brandeis Class of 2000, and by the time the class started, I'd moved on to economics. But I followed through with the class and licensing anyway, and used my training in a very limited way while on campus.

I knew, however, that I wasn't going to hack it as a "real" EMT when I discovered the concept of triage. Our book said the concept originated with the French, and the translation of the word was "to sort." I was horrified by the idea that I'd be responding to some major disaster and have to determine who would get help and who would have to wait, and really, who was beyond help and would have to be passed over. The idea has stuck with me, and while I'm not responding as an EMT, my life often feels like a constant triage.

Yesterday afternoon I got a call at work that Hannah had fallen and hurt her wrist badly. I quickly called Marc and the pediatrician, told my boss I was leaving and made it home on the T in record time. Marc and I took Hannah to one hospital for x-rays, then went to the pediatrician, and eventually ended up at Children's Hospital to get 3/4 of her arm casted in a bright green hue. Hannah was such a trooper - she didn't cry much after I arrived, and complied with all that was asked of her. It was a very late night, but she still got up and went to school on time today and in a good mood. She's even given Marc and me her blessing to continue on to our planned trip to Montreal this weekend.

The triage yesterday was totally obvious - Hannah gets highest priority (while still taking care of Max, of course). Work emails could wait until I got home at 10 pm. I stayed home from work today, and scheduled the follow up appointment, as well as a first visit to the eye doctor after the pediatrician confirmed yesterday that was needed yesterday (yes, I do think this is all related). And now I'm going through all of the rest of what needs to be done today, making all of the millions of little decisions that add up to a life lived.

If you ask me (and it's my blog anyway), I think I stayed remarkably calm through all of this. I think I'm pretty reliable in a crisis, even if it means my adrenaline shoots through the roof and keeps me awake for hours afterward, replaying the entire episode. I never imagined I'd think back on the triage concept as often as I do, but maybe I would have made a good EMT after all. Or maybe it was the best training I could have gotten for the life I'm living anyway.


  1. She's such a tough cookie! Glad Hannaha's alright.

  2. I hope that Hannah is continuing to be ok and that you are still remaining calm :-). The triage approach sounds like a good way to go. Take care.