A Stretcher Fiasco: A Guest Post
Krystal is a funeral director in the Niagara Region. Five years licensed, and her passion to help families, embalm and direct funerals is just as strong as the day she began her journey in the death care profession. Aside from working full time in the funeral home, she is a full time mom and wife!
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Six years ago, I was a funeral service student braving the almighty internship. I had been on transfers with funeral directors, but never alone. A new call came in and there was a release at the general hospital. What a perfect opportunity to send both of the interns on their first transfer.
Off we went! Looking good in our snazzy new suits (skirt too, might I add) and our classic grey hearse.
Luckily, the morgue was discreetly tucked away from the public eye. I backed the hearse into the narrow alley. I walked through the hospital to first pick up the Medical Certificate of Death (and I didn’t get lost!), and then back to the morgue entrance to meet security.
So far everything is good. My partner in crime and I were let into the morgue. We look around noticing there were four people in total resting in the morgue.
All were about small in size.
Sure enough, that was our person. We estimated approximately 250+ lbs. As the security guards watched, they were a little surprised to see us gracefully complete the transfer from hospital gurney to our stretcher. We wheeled the stretcher out to the hearse and proceeded to try and get the stretcher into the back of the hearse.
The first attempt was a fail. As well as the second, third, fourth and fifth.
Each time we tried a little more pressure and speed. The first set of wheels collapsed but not the last two. After a half hour of frustration, sweat and one bad rip in my nylons, we managed to get the legs to collapse to the middle level, but not all the way.
That was good enough! I was on one side and the other intern was on the other. We lifted the deceased into the back of the hearse. The stretcher was on a 50 degree angle but at this point we didn’t care we just had to get back to the funeral home. We started to drive off and just before we got to the hospital’s parking lot exit, I realized we needed a parking token to get out.
I cursed my way out of the car back into the hospital and to the security desk. When I got to security, all three of the guards were laughing (sitting beside their video surveillance tv). No words exchanged, the one security guard gave me the token, I half grinned and turned to walk away. As I started to depart, one of the the guards commented “That’s quite the run” (referring to my nylons). I said thanks, and walked away shaking my head.
Eventually, we got back to the funeral home with the stretcher still on the angle (which looked funny looking into the hearse window). We mentioned to the other directors that the stretcher was broken. They said, “Oh just park it to the back of the garage. “.
A year later, our new intern went on a transfer with that stretcher and had the same problem. However, my colleague was not so lucky because a Nun (head Sister too) saw the intern struggle and then called the owner of the funeral home saying how disrespectful the ordeal was. (This is where I feel so lucky no one in the public saw my fiasco).
Eventually the funeral home staff had to go through Stretcher Class-101. And when the manager tried to show all the staff how to use the stretcher he realized it wasn’t the operator, it was the junky stretcher. And yes, eventually we got a new replacement stretcher.