Author needs background info
I'm Steve Pease from Colorado. During the day I'm an Intelligence Officer at Air Force Space Command. After, I think I'm a mystery writer.
I'm researching the background for a mystery novel series set in 1963 LA. My main character is currently working at a "receiving/police" hospital (pre-emergency room) in downtown LA and he has a background as an HM. His corpsman history isn't in the stories directly (in the first book anyway), but, like real people, he's influenced and maybe haunted by that history. My problem is this: I contacted a retired nurses association with experience in a major hospitals around 1963 and they somewhat arrogantly said he (a male) could never be more involved than as an orderly in a civilian hospital, ie a no education/no experience minimum wage guy pushing patients around in wheelchairs, changing soiled sheets...
This guy, in my mind, has 8+ years (HM2?) as a front-line corpsman, with the FMF in Korea, later in Naval hospitals in Naples and then Long Beach. (do FMF and Naval Hospital careers cross like that?) He's been tested under fire and he has the medical credentials to do a lot more than empty bedpans, I think. I want to get his history right to justify my choice to have him now working as much more than a minimum wage orderly. And I'm a little frustrated after hearing from the retired nurses....
I want this guy working emergency cases resulting from crime, mayhem, and accident, to have contact with LAPD cops, murder, gambling, sex and booze in a Noir LA 1963.
So I'm looking for someone to look at the history I've built for him and to validate/correct a few things. Then, I'd love to talk to former HMs who left the service in the 60's/70's to pursue a civilian medical career in a hospital. Did you work in a large city hospital system?
Steve Pease, writing as Michael Chandos
Black Forest, Colorado
I think you should pay attention to the information provided by the retired nurses.If the timeline was after 1970,you might have a valid senario.The only valid medical creditials in 1963 he could have at that time would be some type of nursing degree,otherwise mopping floors,cleaning bedpans,etc.
Even now you dont get outside credentials without persuing them. I'm a corpsman but wouldnt even be a PCP or CNA without aquiring the nationaly accredited lisences. We went through the EMT brady book and can treat practicly anything without any thought of it but arent even eligable for the national test because of the lack of specificly accredited hours. He could persue the job afterwards inspired by his experiences but there would have to be a time gap for a nursing degree
My thoughts on this would be to investigate LA Fire instead as possibly working on a squad or with a private ambulance company to make more use of the skills and situations you would like your main character to be exposed to. I don't know if LA Fire was running ambulances or squads [mini squads with paramedics started in 1970] but some sort of rescue services had to be in operation. If I remember correctly, the White Papers (?) and then DOT set up the EMT program in 1966 which is slightly past your timeline but still feasible. This would get you a chance to have him working on his education and meet your requirements.
Maybe you could change your time frame to the mid eighties where your HM could have been in Beirut or mid nineties after the First Gulf War. This would be easier to research history wise and give you more opportunity for EMT certification with Fire or EMS agencies plus maybe as an ER tech (most are paramedics) in a hospital.
Last edited by dvldocjoe; 03-16-2011 at 21:55.
Reason: additional thoughts
Thanks for the brain stimulation
ER's didn't appear until after Viet Nam - the first ER Residency was in something like 1979 - in Ohio maybe. In the LA of the 50's and 60's (and earlier) they had "Receiving" hospitals. Most LAPD major stations had an ambulance assigned, with a mini-receiving clinic perhaps in the station house, with major Receiving Hospitals as destinations for critical traffic injuries and other emergencies. You hear the Georgia Street Receiving Hospital in downtown LA referred to constantly in Dragnet radio episodes. Robert Kennedy was taken there after he was shot, not to an ER. You have an excellent idea about the ambulance service. Each station house had one, with a couple roving around LA, each truck with at least two crewmen (men), one driver, one attendant, but both critical care qualified - I have some of those details and will go refresh myself. Might be a good place for a medic.
Is it reasonable for an HM to go FMF early in his career (Korean War), but later (after the Korean War armistice) to go ashore to a hospital? Can he go directly to FMF or only after 2 to 3 years of service? I could place him on a Hospital Ship to build up his experience handling stressful combat injuries. I want him to have met his Lady Macbeth wife in Naples and to end his enlistment at the Long Beach hospital around 1956.
Workable? What you have now is too much fantasy and TV drama.
There were designated Emergency Rooms before the Viet Nam War Era.
RFK was transported to the nearest facility,it was a matter of time and nothing else.
Ambulance crews only had Red Cross Advanced First Aid certification,their abilities were very limited by state laws.They were not critical care qualified at todays standards.
NHSD 1970 era,ambulance crew was civil service driver(no medical training),one or two HM's.There was a radio,but the only contact was with civil service dispatcher at motor pool.
I was a corpsman between 1965-69. I was FMF for 13 months during the Viet Nam war. Years later I worked as a Burn Tech and ICU Tech based on my corpsman experience. During this period I went to nursing school and became an RN. If I can be any help, let me know.
This idea is a fascinating one, if only you can figure out a way to make it work. I would lean more toward a position change for your protagonist and not a time-period swap. The allure of the setting is the noir atmosphere and you lose that if you go any other time-frame. It's a downer that he couldn't be accredited legally, because it's not as though he spent his earlier days installing air filters or something...he has FMF and Naval Hospital experience. You do, however, need to listen to the advice of those in the know. You might consider the possibility that his connections with the police are based on respect and not exactly what you might call "above board". Maybe they give him information or let him in on certain things because they respect his experience more than accreditation. Keep us up to date on this.
Last edited by DanM; 09-23-2011 at 17:00.
Can he be FMF and then work in a hospital? yes. He could of also been assigned to a ship, maybe a sub? Maybe look into the IDCs, or their predecessors? Maybe he was involved with a special operations unit and as such received better medical training than a normal HM of his time? Maybe he started as a HM and then became a doctor, but has never forgotten his roots or better yet- He is scarred by his experiences and tries to forget them, and/or learn from them?
It is not surprising that nurses said that- Nurses are a pretty tight bunch, and they hate anything that can threaten their livelihood. First was Male nurses, and today is Paramedics. Though I am not hating on nurses i have been witnessed to nurses abusing EMS crews or worse ignoring them with the patient being the one who really suffers from it. Good luck on your project!
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