Working at night – a good idea?

Since I’m currently working in a job that requires shift work, I’m doing mostly night shifts. This had a few disadvantages, as most people would immediately agree.  However, it also has some advantages:

  1. A little extra money.  Night shifts attract a little extra bonus pay compared to morning and afternoon shifts.
  2. Longer shifts means fewer shifts.  In my current job, night shift is 10 hours compared to 8 hours for the other shifts.  So full time work is 4 days (or nights) per week, leaving 3 days free for other things, including overtime.
  3. Less workplace politics.  Night shift is not free of office politics, but it tends to be limited, partly because the audience for troublemakers and stirrers is limited so they gravitate towards the daytime.
  4. I can be at home to take my children to school, and pick them up from school.  My sleep time is the six hours in between, plus an hour or two in the evening before work if I’m lucky.
  5. Night shifts allow me to be home with my disabled wife during the day.  Then if she has a fall, or needs help with showering, I can attend to her.  Otherwise she’d be alone during the hours that the children are at school and I’m at work.
  6. I can plan my days around knowing that I’ll either be working at night or on leave or days off.  So if a courier parcel is expected, I know I’ll be home to receive it.
  7. Many colleagues dislike night shift, so it improves my popularity when I volunteer to work at night.
  8. At night there are less doctors around, so I am often able to practice my Nurse Practitioner skills.  The reduces the waiting time for patients and reduces the workload for the night duty doctor.  And I enjoy the challenge and the extra responsibility.
  9. When you work a significant amount of night shifts, you get a bonus seventh week of paid annual leave.
  10. Attending staff meetings and inservice events is easy, as I know I won’t be working.  I just have to juggle my sleep requirements, which is usually not too hard as these events tend to occur close to when I get up to collect the children from school anyway.
So that’s a few reasons why I like night shift.  What’s not to like?  Well, let’s make that the subject of another post …

Forewarned is fore-armed, or is it?

Sometimes in the Emergency Department we get warning that a seriously unwell person is arriving, and this allows us to prepare the resuscittation room.  Other times, we get little or no warning.  Does this mean we’re not ready for the patient?  At first glance it would seem so, but in reality it doesn’t make any real difference.  I think this is because we always have the resuscitation room ready, even when we don’t have anyone expected to use it.  Sure the drugs aren’t drawn up and the chest drain pack hasn’t been laid out.  But it only takes a few seconds to do that anyway.

During my career in emergency healthcare, I have noticed that the main effect of a long prior warning time before receiving a seriously injured or unwell patient is that some staff have time to have nightmares.  They get anxious about what to expect, and try to second-guess everything. My own approach is to be prepared for the worst at all times, so that whatever comes in the door I can deal with it.  Doesn’t always work, but I don’t often ‘lose the plot’.

I remember one shift in a busy regional ED where I was Team Leader.  We had more patients coming through the door than we had spaces to put them, so I had to allocate staff and cubicles to deal with the most urgent.  If I had stopped to think about it, I don’t think it would have gone very well, but at then end of the shift, we had coped pretty well with the workload.  Because I kept calm and seemed in control, the rest of the team were able to cope with the pressure.  Contrast this with a similar shift where a colleague was Team Leader, who had a tendency to second-guess decisions.  By the end of the shift we were all frazzled and fed-up.  And we didn’t even have a patient in the resuscitation area!

So why am I going on about this?  Well, a colleague was recently overheard complaining that the ambulance service hadn’t phoned through that they were bringing a fitting patient to our ED.  My opinion, for what it’s worth, is that when you are Team Leader, you always have a contingency plan in the back of your head.  Then you don’t need to be forewarned.  In fact, if you rely on being forewarned, there’s a risk that you become complacent until the phone rings.

It’s a bit like relying on the oil pressure warning light to come on before you get your car serviced.  Far better to plan some preventive maintenance.  OK, OK so it’s not a perfect analogy, but hopefully you get the point.

That’s it for now.

ARB air compressor a disappointment

I finally got around to dismantling the ARB air compressor mounted under the bonnet of the Landcruiser.  Sure enough, the exhaust valve has failed, again.  Last time it failed, I got a new one from ARB for about 70 cents plus $5 postage.  This time is was informed that the old compressor is no longer supported by ARB, and hence I can’t get a new valve for it.  They say that they supported it for 3 years, and now I have to buy the new model.  Since I paid $360 for the old one, and hardly had any use out of it, I’m a bit annoyed that I have to discard it for the sake of a 70 cent piece of plastic. 
ARB really should have recalled the old compressors and replaced the flimsy nylon valves with brass or stainless steel, rather than turning their backs on customers who bought their poorly-engineered product. So I’m researching a new air compressor to go in the Cruiser, and chances are it won’t be from ARB!!

Landcruiser upgrade

The upgrade on the 80 series is coming along well.  I have completed the replacement of all suspension bushes.  The castor correction bushes were an excellent addition, as they cured the slight wandering tendency arising from the 2-inch suspension lift.  I have replaced a rear universal joint, as I found it to be worn when I was under the vehicle doing the suspension bushes.  It’s a case of looking for one problem and finding another!  Anyway, the new uni-joint was on the shelf in the workshop, so it was only a few minutes to make the repair.
When I went to replace the handbrake shoes, I found that Toyota altered the specs in August 1992.  Therefore the new shoes I bought for the previous Cruiser (a 1991 model that got written off by a drunk driver in Alice Springs) don’t fit my current vehicle.  So I’m awaiting the arrival of new handbrake shoes in the mail…
What’s next?  There’s a brand new brass and copper radiator in the workshop, but I think that can go in with the engine swap in June.

Lowlifes on the loose

We had two bicycles stolen from our yard last week.  Apart from the feeling of violation, and the self-recriminations about not locking them to the verandah post, it’s the inconvenience that really rankles.  Because we live in a remote town, we cannot easily replace the bikes. We’ve had to order new ones online, and now we await their delivery.
This event has left us $1650 out of pocket, half of that from my 15 year old daughter replacing her bike that she bought out of her part-time work after school.  Perhaps the most frustrating thing is that my bike had a mounting bracket on it to connect my 6-year-old’s tagalong bike.  This bracket is no longer available, so unless I can fabricate one myself, we may have to also replace the tagalong bike.
If we find out who stole the bikes, a quiet discussion using a tyre lever may be in order.  I’m not an advocate of violence, but this has got my blood boiling.  If the lowlifes just get away with it, why would they ever see the need to change their behaviour.  If their behaviour leads to a few broken bones, maybe the behaviour will change?  Anyway, I’m just dreaming, because the reality is that we won’t see the bikes again, and the perpetrators will get away with stealing them.  That’s life, and we’ll make sure we keep the new ones locked up, even when they are hidden in our enclosed yard.