I recently had an ophthalmologist appointment. I was going by ambulette, which is not my preferred method of travel. I no longer like riding on a lift into a large van, and ambulettes have creaky lifts they scare me.
On the day of my appointment, I waited for more than half an hour close to the back door. Then a transport bus got pulled in so my ambulette had no place to park. The driver came to get me and told me the ambulette was on the far side of the parking lot.
I was surprised it was a side loading ambulette. The ambulettes I have ridden in recently had a rear lift. Ambulette companies also have a lot more rules than they used to. Most drivers tell me to pull onto the rear lift facing the inside. They never wanted me backing onto the lift. But, on this day, the driver told me to back onto the lift.
I asked her why their policy had changed. I explained I had only entered their ambulettes from the rear, never from the side. Then I asked if she would stand in front of my power chair to guide me on the lift. She told me she was not allowed to leave her rear position.
So I asked her if the facility medical transportation aide could assist me. She sounded aggravated when she said consented. The facility transportation aide did not understand how I needed her to assist me. She kept telling me to hurry. I pulled back on the joystick and, unfortunately, I went too far to the right. I discovered I was stuck on the front lift plate.
The medical transportation aide ran to the building to get help. In the meantime, I asked the ambulette driver to rock my chair to see if it would come loose. It did. This time, I suggested they put my power chair in "free wheel mode" and back me on to the lift. She got me on safely.
It was a very hot day, and I was frustrated. It seemed to take an inordinate amount of time for the driver to get me secured in the ambulette and turn on the air conditioner.
When I arrived at the ophthalmologist's office, the ambulette driver began to lower the lift. Suddenly, an alarm sounded and a red light flashed. When she started to lower the lift, she discovered that the front plate, which holds the chair on the lift, was broken. She said my power chair did it when it rolled over the flip plate.
The ambulette driver could only lower the lift only by hand crank. She said she would not be able to manually raise my heavy power chair on a broken lift. She said she could not return me to the facility. The ambulance company took her ambulette out of service.
The facility medical transportation aide, who met us at the ophthalmologist's office, had to return me to the facility. I have ridden in many ambulettes since the late 1990s. But this is the first time I have had anything to do with breaking one.
Kathleen Mears is a long-time blogger who has been a nursing home resident for 21 years. She is an incomplete quadriplegic and uses a power wheelchair to get around. Her computer is her “window on the world.” This blog shares her thoughts and view of life as a nursing home resident as well as ideas of how it might be improved in the future.