Fun And Games Off Duty · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important!

Revelations

Recently TDW-Mark II was perusing Facebook, and noticed that Number Three Son, and his wife, had posted a couple of pictures. In the first, he was dressed in a nice suit, she in a nice red dress, posed all nice and proper.

In the second, SHE was in the suit, HE was in the red dress, and they were, again, posed soberly and portrait like.

TDW-Mark II called this to my attention, allowed me a couple of seconds to deliberate over this vignette, and then opined, “He loves his wife way more than you love me! You would never do that sort of clothing swap with me!”

I considered this, and observed, “Well, now you know!”

Fun And Games Off Duty · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important!

Drinking in the Heat

When my boys were young teens, they were scouts. I was the assistant scoutmaster, and the troop required two adults to accompany the boys to camp. Since I worked weekends and off shifts, I could finagle a string of days off, and, therefore, I could take the time off for scout camp.

Being of the medical bent, I was de facto medical officer. Therefore, the scoutmaster and I (the only fellow, ever, who was more conservative, politically, than I!) got up early the first day, and, observing the hot, humid nature of the morning, and the weather forecast promising even more of the same for the day, assembled the boys for the morning briefing.

I observed that it was hot and humid. (for am I not, after all, a man gifted with a firm grasp of the obvious?) I next observed that this provided an opportunity for some preventative medicine, to whit: DRINK! DRINK! DRINK! If you (the scouts) are under the misapprehension that you are drinking enough water, you are wrong! When you stop, drink water. When you are moving, drink water. If you are wondering if you might be drinking too much water, drink water.

There appeared, among the boys, some skeptical looks. The Scoutmaster, Tom Swift, admonished the troop, that I had schooled my self for a long time, and delved ever so deeply into the mysteries of the functioning of the human body. Therefore, I likely I knew whereof I spake, and they ought to attend to my counsel.

We broke up for the day’s activities. I lingered in camp, being “on vacation”, until I roused myself to wander the camp. I eventually caught up with my partner Tom, and the gaggle of our scouts. One of these worthies appeared unfocused, with a bit of a bobble to his walk. One of the scouts took note, and directed my attention his way. I poured this scout a tall glass of ice water, and commanded him, “Drink up!”

He demurred, reporting that he was not thirsty.

“I do not recall asking if you were thirsty or not. Drink up!”

He did so. As I poured him another glass, I asked him, “How much have you had to drink since breakfast today?”

“Uh, not much?” Another scout, who had followed this scout’s schedule, chimed in, “I did not see him drink anything today!”

Finishing the glass, another poured. “Drink!”

He had just about polished off an entire liter at that sitting, and Scoutmaster Tom and I conferred. Our scout still appeared unfocused, and so we elected to change venues to the first aid cabin, wherein he could benefit from air conditioning, as well as a place to lay down.

As an oasis, the first aid cabin certainly fit the bill. Kevin, the tottering scout, appeared to like it, and slurped down several popsicles under the camp nurse’s supervision. An hour of hydration as well as temperate environmental conditions certainly seemed to perk him up.

That evening, we held a review of Heat Injuries, And The Scout Population. Using Kevin as an object lesson, for some reason the boys appeared considerably less skeptical than they had that morning.

Weird.

Fun And Games · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Life in Da City!

Dumpster Diving

This one schedule, Doug had elected to rotate onto day shift. Likely something about a wife, family, and wanting to spend some time with That Bright Thing all up in the sky, while he was awake, might have figured into his calculations. In any event, TINS©, TIWFDASL© on night shift at Medic 14 (let us say). I was partnered up with Johnny Wadd (not his real name), who was, even among the collection of characters that made up the crews of EMS in those halcyon days, a character. He was book smart, street wise, quick on the uptake, head on a swivel, and, despite a very crusty persona, good hearted.

So, this one time, at band camp….uh, wrong story. So this one night we were cruising around between runs, and, as commonly happens in my “sea stories”, well, we caught a run. In the misty distance of all these years, I cannot tell you what the nominal nature of this run was. I do, however, remember (a) that the police were NOT dispatched to this run, and (b) once we arrived, and began to understand what the happs were, well, item “a” began to appear to be a big, big mistake.

So, we arrived on the scene to discover not a light on in the alleged address. Calling on the scene, we verified that the house number on the house before us, was, indeed, the address dispatch wanted us to report to. Check!

I knocked upon the door, while Johnny looked around the front of the house. As he reached the edge of the house adjoining the driveway, he heard something from the back that caught his attention. We meandered back to see what was up (notifying dispatch, on the way, of our explorations).

The sounds Johnny had heard were moans, and they were emanating from a wheeled trash bin. That made sense, as my flashlight illuminated two legs protruding from the top thereof. Johnny peered inside, and beheld a gentleman curled up inside, much the worse for wear.

We figured that any conversation to be had, would be had with greater clarity should our new friend be extricated from the trash bin, and so we began to attempt to lift him by his legs.

BAD PLAN! At least, in his view. He screamed, convincing us that this was NOT the course of action we desired to pursue. I ran to the truck, and retrieved the cot, a backboard, and backboard straps. Johnny and I then slowly levered the bin onto it’s side, and tried to gently place Mr. Trash Bin onto the backboard so as to remove him from his nest with minimal discomfort (to him) as we could manage. In his opinion, we were not particularly successful.

Once he was out in the light, such as it was (MagLite light, it was!), we could discern from the angulation of his thighs that he had sustained two fractured femurs. Further evaluation revealed a couple of gunshot wounds, as well as several stabbing wounds.

We determined that further time on the scene, with our basic life support asses, would be unprofitable, and so secured our guest onto the board, strapped him onto the cot, loaded him up into the truck, and coded our happy way to TBTCIDC.

Once we had turned him over to the ED crew, and they were poking, prodding, needling, radiating,

IV-ing, and generally getting to know him far, far better than anyone else in his life ever had, we cleaned up and restocked the truck. Johnny turned to me, reflection written deeply in his eyes.

Ya know, Reltney, I wonder if someone, somehow, got a little angry at our guy there! Somebody does not seem to have had his very best interests in their heart!”

Fun And Games · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Life in Da City!

Night shift lost the medic bag, a fact we discovered *AFTER* we caught a run!

So, TINS©, TIW©, all psyched up to FDASL©, chatting with the off-going crew, with my partner Doug. I had just about completed dropping my bookbag full of nursing school homework on the desk, when the phone rang with a run. Unaccustomedly, we were on day-shift, this being summer and my class load being light.

Of course, our very first run of the morning was Not a “sick person”, was not a “stomach pain”, no, indeed, it was an arrest.

It was Doug’s day to drive, so I settled into the passenger seat, buckled up, and we were away.

It was the custom, in those dark days of antiquity, to gather our immediate aid materials in a “mussette bag”, generally mil surp, olive drab, canvas. With a capacity of around six liters, we could carry several roller gauze bandages, a dozen or more sterile 4 x 4 dressings, several 5 x 9 ABDs (variously translated out of acronym into English as Army Battle Dressings, or ABDominal Pads), tongue blades, plastic oral airways (NOT endotracheal tubes: in those days, we were running an entirely basic life support operation), and, most relevant to Today’s Lesson in Life In Da City, a bag-valve-mask resuscitator.

Mostly, Da City bought the Laerdal brand of bag-mask, branded as Ambu, Therefore, of course, we referred to these as “the ‘Bu”.

You may wonder why I am assaulting y’all with these details of my far gone workaday life, amirite? Well, ya see, on this particular day, on this particular “cardiac arrest” run, as I settled my bony ass into the passenger seat, I did NOT have to step around the green bag. This caused me to look around, as we sped to the run, and NOT find the bag. I twisted around, and gazed into the module from my seat, and, again, did NOT! See our bag.

This was not encouraging.

Shortly, we arrived on scene, and, fortunately (for certain narrowly defined values of “fortunately”), our named patient was not only arrested, but, also, in rigor mortis.

Please recall that “narrowly defined values of ‘fortunately’” thing, cited above.

This soul was not going to benefit in any manner from CPR, ventilation or any other intervention in our (missing) bag of tricks. Therefore, we pronounced him on the scene, called dispatch for a scout car to take report, and went in service.

Returning to the firehouse, we examined the log entries from night shift, listed several likely locations of our errant bag (and I retrieved my personal bag from my vehicle, so, in the interval, we would not face performing mouth-to-mouth on some unlucky stranger). Then, we went visiting.

On our second or third stop, a pleasant lady answered the door. “I was wondering when you fellas were going to come back. Them nice fellas last night were in such a hurry that they left this on our living room floor!” And she handed us our bag.

I asked how her husband was doing, he being the subject of night crew’s visit last night. “Oh, he’s staying in the hospital. The doctors said his belly pain was from his appendix, and he’s gonna have an operation today, but they say he’ll be fine!”

Doug and I applauded this news, thanked her for holding our equipment for us, and bade her farewell.

And, boys and girls, THAT is why I forever afterward placed my own green bag in the ambulance, for the duration of my days on EMS!

Protect and Serve

A different view on policing, from the prevailing media narrative

Against my will, I have been aware of the news reports of many, many protests over the circumstances surrounding death of George Floyd.
Against my will, I have been subjected to the noxious virtue signaling malarkey from many quarters, braying about how anti racist they are (“acta, non verba!”).
Again, against my will, I have been subjected to the chant of racist, violent police being The! Single! Greatest! Threat! to black men, In! Da! World! (notwithstanding the 24 fatal shootings in Chicago just the weekend of May 30-31)
( see https://chicago.suntimes.com/2020/6/1/21275944/chicago-weekend-shootings-most-violent-weekend-2020-may-29-june-1)


I request that we all keep in mind that we are all fallen, all imperfect, all in need of improvement. Police are part of that set. And, like some of our neighbors, some officers do felonious things. Mr. Chauvin appears due to get his day in court, which, should things work out as they are supposed to, will bring to light evidence supporting, or refuting, the cloud of assertions surrounding these events.

Tl: DR summary: Lotsa heat, little light, Facts will come out, and theories and bullshit will be tamped down.

Now, that I have stepped off of my soapbox, let’s hear a story of “Protect And Serve Policing”, of the sort that I have seen repeatedly myself.

Observant readers will note that this is a re-run.

Patient Care Is Everywhere!  (small town life)

I had the opportunity, a couple of years ago, to speak with an police officer who personified the
 “Protect and Serve” mindset. An elderly, very confused gentleman, with a baseline mentation 
deficit, was brought in to the hospital at the instigation of the officer. Having been dispatched 
for a "welfare check", he found this soul confused, and in the officer's estimation, "looked sick."
 We evaluated the patient, and tried to (start to) fix his medical issues.  While waiting for the lab
 results, the officer and I chatted. The officer related to me that he was an officer, “not for the 
attorney with a 150,000 dollar car and a nice house: he doesn’t need me. That guy, over there: 
he depends on me to do the right thing. He is why I took that oath.” 

Once we had finished caring for the gentleman, and were ready to discharge him, another 
officer from this same (yeah, rural) department came and took him home, seeing him safely 
into his apartment.

Another occasion, same rural police department, same officer. This time he  accompanied an 
EMS transport. This soul was in custody, so the officer parked himself outside the room, to 
keep an eye on his charge. During their stay, in the room across the hallway, was a child, who 
was very dubious about the entire "going to the hospital" thing. This officer was approached by 
the fearful child, who momentarily had his fears overcome with curiosity about a live-and-in-
person police officer. This officer was very engaged with the child, producing wide eyes 
interest as the boy lectured the officer on the ins and outs of frogs, and minutiae of their lives in 
the wild. He (the officer) offered a few frog insights of his own, and the two of them had an 
animated conversation there in my ED hallway. 

The rest of my encounter with the boy was made considerably smoother, when the officer 
asked the boy, "Are you behaving for my friend Reltney?  Yeah, he may be a doctor (well, a PA
 at this point, but, ya know...), but he's pretty nice.  Give him a chance, wontcha?"

My point? There has been come conversation of “Officer as social worker” becoming part of the
 police toolbox. This theme is not new, although it used to be called "walking the beat, and 
knowing your beat". Some officers, who are each a credit to their profession, have been 
employing that tool for a long time. And, in some regards, to steal a phrase from the American 
Nurses' Association, "Patient Care is Everywhere!"  Some of the practitioners are not formally 
licensed in health professions. And, some of us simply see it as being a good neighbor. 

			
Fun And Games · Sometimes You Get to Think That You Have Accomplished Something!

Bradycardia and The Cough

TINS©, TIWFDASL©, nursing in the ED of this community hospital in Northern The Un-Named Flyover State. A gentleman arrived, somewhere in his forties, and he told his tale of chest pain. He shortly thereafter sported the latest fashions in IVs, EKG monitoring, oxygen, and much blood drawn and sent to lab for analysis.

Two things you should know about me. I am a bottomless well of generally useless trivia, for one. For example, the relevance of which will become apparent shortly, I read a bunch of stuff, including a report, years and years and years ago which asserted that individuals undergoing a cardiac catheterization would be instructed that, should they be commanded to do so, they should cough vigorously and repeatedly. This would, or so the article asserted, increase pressure inside the chest, compress the heart, and thereby expel blood from the heart. This was important because occasionally the catheter, introduced into the heart, could produce irritation sufficient to produce fibrillation. (an uncoordinated trembling of the heart, which produces no blood flow. A Bad Thing.)

Once they drew in another breath preparatory to coughing once again, the negative pressure inside their chest so produced would encourage their heart to again fill with blood, which would be expelled with the next cough. This could temporarily produce enough blood pressure to keep things idling along, until the cath lab staff could intervene and set things right.

The other thing about me, is that I am somewhat chatty. (“No! Say it isn’t so!”). Okay, very chatty. So, there I was, chatting with this gentleman, and noting his cardiac rhythm and heart rate as displayed upon his cardiac monitor.

I noticed that his heart rate, originally in the 90’s, was trending downward. (normal is around 60-80). Once it dropped below 55, I stopped congratulating myself on wonderful patient care, and began to worry.

He began to report feeling dizzy and weak. I directed him, “When I tell you to cough, do not ask any questions, simply do it!”

He, of course, asked me why, but at that point his heart rate had dropped below 30 (Very Not So Good!), and I was a bit terse. “Stop talking, and cough!…Cough!…..Cough!….”

I repeated myself at about one second intervals. Now, I am sure that the other nurses heard me, and wondered what variety of insanity had afflicted me. Once they came in to investigate, and I waved my hand at the monitor, continuing my coxswain like commands of “Cough!….Cough!….Cough!….”, they noted his very, very slow intrinsic heart rate. That, coupled with this guy, eyes fixed upon me, coughing every time I commanded him to do so, told them everything that they needed to know, and things got considerably more active in short order.

He soon received a temporary external pacemaker and and an ICU admit.

And we all lived happily ever after!

Fun And Games Off Duty · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important!

Duck Butter

So, TINS, there I was, sleeping my ass off, and NOT saving lives, because my employer had laid me off due our low (read: nonexistent) census. As had become my routine, I awakened promptly at the asscrack of noon, and stumbled to the kitchen, blearily admiring the Hot! Coffee! Pot! That TDW-Mark II had whipped up. As I was preparing my offering to Saint Arabica, Patron of the Sleepy, she was saying something, probably related to planning for activities later in the day. I was not paying much attention, grunting affirmatively from time to time, when a lull in her soliloquy indicated the need for some sort of response from me.

I had completed mixing my coffee and replacing the fixings, when she observed that she had included on her list, and I swear that I am not making this up, “…and we need some duck butter, so that’s on the list.”

THAT captured my attention. “What? Duck butter? Why do we need duck butter? What is duck butter, anyway?”

As is likely no surprise, she gave me “THAT LOOK”, the one learned in wife school, and generally displayed when the husband displays some new peak of stoopid.

“Duck butter? I said ‘cat litter’! How on earth can you get ‘duck butter’ from cat litter?”

I deliberated on this question for a moment. “I dunno. Squeeze it really hard?”

Protect and Serve

What is this “Memorial Day”?

While my blog is commonly about lighthearted things, irritants, and such like fluff, occasionally I have to pause, and honor better folks than I. This post, which I placed last year, is here again.  Haerter and Yale are emblematic of those who go in harm’s way, on behalf of their buddies, on behalf of  people that they will never know. 

Those MEN (and, nowadays, WOMEN) need to hold a place in our hearts.  

This is Memorial Day 2020.  This the day set aside, to contemplate, to remember, those who have stood in harm’s way, have said to Evil, “you shall not pass!”, and have died so doing.

Today we recall those immortalized in Francis Scott Keyes’ fourth stanza, opening,

“Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!”

I want to repeat a story.  I first encountered it on the “Never Yet Melted” blog (https://neveryetmelted.com/). I’ve re read it multiple times, yet it still moves me to tears. Here’s the source: https://www.businessinsider.com/john-kellys-speech-about-marines-in-ramadi-2013-6

 

Contemplate the picture, above.  

 

Then, read the story. Lifted directly from Business Insider. This–THIS–is how MEN face DUTY. I pray that, should the need arise, I can be worthy to stand in their presence.  Corporal Jonathan Yale, Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter. This is what we remember, on Memorial Day. 

via Marines Magazine

Five years ago, two Marines from two different walks of life who had literally just met were told to stand guard in front of their outpost’s entry control point.

Minutes later, they were staring down a big blue truck packedwith explosives. With this particular shred of hell bearing down on them, they stood their ground.

Heck, they even leaned in.

I had heard the story many times, personally. But until today I had never heard Marine Lt. Gen. John Kelly’s telling of it to a packed house in 2010. Just four days following the death of his own son in combat, Kelly eulogized two other sons in an unforgettable manner.

From Kelly’s speech:

Two years ago when I was the Commander of all U.S. and Iraqi forces, in fact, the 22nd of April 2008, two Marine infantry battalions, 1/9 “The Walking Dead,” and 2/8 were switching out in Ramadi. One battalion in the closing days of their deployment going home very soon, the other just starting its seven-month combat tour.

Two Marines, Corporal Jonathan Yale and Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter, 22 and 20 years old respectively, one from each battalion, were assuming the watch together at the entrance gate of an outpost that contained a makeshift barracks housing 50 Marines.

The same broken down ramshackle building was also home to 100 Iraqi police, also my men and our allies in the fight against the terrorists in Ramadi, a city until recently the most dangerous city on earth and owned by Al Qaeda. Yale was a dirt poor mixed-race kid from Virginia with a wife and daughter, and a mother and sister who lived with him and he supported as well. He did this on a yearly salary of less than $23,000. Haerter, on the other hand, was a middle class white kid from Long Island.

They were from two completely different worlds. Had they not joined the Marines they would never have met each other, or understood that multiple America’s exist simultaneously depending on one’s race, education level, economic status, and where you might have been born. But they were Marines, combat Marines, forged in the same crucible of Marine training, and because of this bond they were brothers as close, or closer, than if they were born of the same woman.

The mission orders they received from the sergeant squad leader I am sure went something like: “Okay you two clowns, stand this post and let no unauthorized personnel or vehicles pass.” “You clear?” I am also sure Yale and Haerter then rolled their eyes and said in unison something like: “Yes Sergeant,” with just enough attitude that made the point without saying the words, “No kidding sweetheart, we know what we’re doing.” They then relieved two other Marines on watch and took up their post at the entry control point of Joint Security Station Nasser, in the Sophia section of Ramadi, al Anbar, Iraq.

A few minutes later a large blue truck turned down the alley way—perhaps 60-70 yards in length—and sped its way through the serpentine of concrete jersey walls. The truck stopped just short of where the two were posted and detonated, killing them both catastrophically. Twenty-four brick masonry houses were damaged or destroyed. A mosque 100 yards away collapsed. The truck’s engine came to rest two hundred yards away knocking most of a house down before it stopped.

Our explosive experts reckoned the blast was made of 2,000 pounds of explosives. Two died, and because these two young infantrymen didn’t have it in their DNA to run from danger, they saved 150 of their Iraqi and American brothers-in-arms.

When I read the situation report about the incident a few hours after it happened I called the regimental commander for details as something about this struck me as different. Marines dying or being seriously wounded is commonplace in combat. We expect Marines regardless of rank or MOS to stand their ground and do their duty, and even die in the process, if that is what the mission takes. But this just seemed different.

The regimental commander had just returned from the site and he agreed, but reported that there were no American witnesses to the event—just Iraqi police. I figured if there was any chance of finding out what actually happened and then to decorate the two Marines to acknowledge their bravery, I’d have to do it as a combat award that requires two eye-witnesses and we figured the bureaucrats back in Washington would never buy Iraqi statements. If it had any chance at all, it had to come under the signature of a general officer.

I traveled to Ramadi the next day and spoke individually to a half-dozen Iraqi police all of whom told the same story. The blue truck turned down into the alley and immediately sped up as it made its way through the serpentine. They all said, “We knew immediately what was going on as soon as the two Marines began firing.” The Iraqi police then related that some of them also fired, and then to a man, ran for safety just prior to the explosion.

All survived. Many were injured … some seriously. One of the Iraqis elaborated and with tears welling up said, “They’d run like any normal man would to save his life.”

What he didn’t know until then, he said, and what he learned that very instant, was that Marines are not normal. Choking past the emotion he said, “Sir, in the name of God no sane man would have stood there and done what they did.”

“No sane man.”

“They saved us all.”

What we didn’t know at the time, and only learned a couple of days later after I wrote a summary and submitted both Yale and Haerter for posthumous Navy Crosses, was that one of our security cameras, damaged initially in the blast, recorded some of the suicide attack. It happened exactly as the Iraqis had described it. It took exactly six seconds from when the truck entered the alley until it detonated.

You can watch the last six seconds of their young lives. Putting myself in their heads I supposed it took about a second for the two Marines to separately come to the same conclusion about what was going on once the truck came into their view at the far end of the alley. Exactly no time to talk it over, or call the sergeant to ask what they should do. Only enough time to take half an instant and think about what the sergeant told them to do only a few minutes before: ” … let no unauthorized personnel or vehicles pass.”

The two Marines had about five seconds left to live. It took maybe another two seconds for them to present their weapons, take aim, and open up. By this time the truck was half-way through the barriers and gaining speed the whole time. Here, the recording shows a number of Iraqi police, some of whom had fired their AKs, now scattering like the normal and rational men they were—some running right past the Marines. They had three seconds left to live.

For about two seconds more, the recording shows the Marines’ weapons firing non-stop…the truck’s windshield exploding into shards of glass as their rounds take it apart and tore in to the body of the son-of-a-bitch who is trying to get past them to kill their brothers—American and Iraqi—bedded down in the barracks totally unaware of the fact that their lives at that moment depended entirely on two Marines standing their ground. If they had been aware, they would have know they were safe … because two Marines stood between them and a crazed suicide bomber.

The recording shows the truck careening to a stop immediately in front of the two Marines. In all of the instantaneous violence Yale and Haerter never hesitated. By all reports and by the recording, they never stepped back. They never even started to step aside. They never even shifted their weight. With their feet spread shoulder width apart, they leaned into the danger, firing as fast as they could work their weapons. They had only one second left to live.

The truck explodes. The camera goes blank. Two young men go to their God.

Six seconds.

Not enough time to think about their families, their country, their flag, or about their lives or their deaths, but more than enough time for two very brave young men to do their duty … into eternity. That is the kind of people who are on watch all over the world tonight—for you.

 

 

 

Here’s what it looks like when MEN face duty, in the last seconds of their lives


I just now, again, re read this tale.  

I just now, again, teared up. 

And prayed that The Almighty grant these heroes, eternal peace. 

And smile upon their families, that their loss may be lightened. 
Fun And Games · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Life in Da City!

“Fittin To Throw Down!”

When I worked the road for Da City’s EMS, several of my colleagues were simpatico with the majority of our service population. So, the habits and mores of the folks on the street were not much of a novelty for several of my colleagues.

Indeed, one gentleman who was my partner for a schedule or two told a tale of a cousin of his who, exchanging words with another soul, found their conversation adjourned outside the bar in which they had crossed paths. Words grew more and more heated, in my partner’s telling of the tale, and the party of the second part drew, displayed, and announced his intent to employ, a handgun.

My partner described subsequent events. “Well, my cuz stood up tall, and challenged the other guy, saying, ‘Well, hell! SHOOT me!’. Which he did. My cousin did not survive the exchange.”

Tough crowd.

So, TINS©, TIWFDASL© with my regular partner, Doug, and we (of course) had our squelch open so we could hear radio chatter from other medic units. If one of them got into trouble, well, THAT might be a handy thing to know, so we could begin to sidle our happy asses over closer to their scene, to lend a hand should medical hands be required.

Over the radio came the memorable tones of Abbie Smith. He was able to recreate the richly evocative tones, rhythm, and nuance of the patois of the street. Partly this was due to the fact that he was of the street, and partly because he was an old hand on the job, and therefore wise in the mannerisms of the citizenry from that perspective as well.

So, anyhow, he drawled out his greeting: “Dispatch, this is Medic Nine!”

The dispatcher on duty that night was another old hand, who had been dispatching since Marconi had first dispatched “S” from Cornwall, England. He, in contrast to Abbie, was an old white boy, who was renowned for knowing off the top of his head where every ambulance was, and what they were doing, at any given time. When you are in a tense, hostile scene, is is reassuring to have a sort of radio bodyguard looking over you!

So, he acknowledged Medic Nine’s call: “Medic Nine, go!”

Dispatch, could we get the po-leece out here?”

Very good, Medic Nine. Why do you need them?”

Dispatch, these folks are all hot and bothered, and they fittin to throw down!”

Remember, our dispatcher was a white boy. He had not immersed himself in the vibrant, and ebonics speaking, culture of the street. In contrast, our friend Abbie, had. Dispatch sought some clarification.

Medic Nine, what are they going to throw down? And, from where?”

We could hear the sigh from Abbie, before he even keyed up the microphone. “Dispatch, this is Medic Nine! They fittin to throw down! You know, get it on! Fight!”

That cleared things up for our friend the dispatcher. “Are you involved in this fight, Medic Nine?”

Naw, we down the street. But, they gonna get to fighting pretty soon!”

Dispatch got it. “Medic Nine, clear that scene! Clear that scene! Police are on the way, repeat, police are on the way!”

Dispatch, this is Medic Nine! We clearin the scene!”

Again proving the importance of speaking, so that they can understand you!

Fun And Games · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Life in Da City!

Sleeping With a Chainsaw

A long, long time, in a galaxy not so very far away, I was working for Da City’s EMS. Since I was in school during the daytime, I worked nights.

So, TINS©, TIWFDASL©, and it was my turn to take the detail. In those days, several of the medic houses on each shift had three medics assigned. In the event that another unit had a sick call, or somebody off injured, well, “Tag! You’re IT!”, and somebody got to pack their crap up, drive across town, and work an unfamiliar house with a (occasionally) unfamiliar partner. The night of this tale, it was my turn.

EMS, in those days, was sort of a small town. There were around 160-170 personnel on the rolls, and what with shift rotations, details, and commonly running into a couple of the dozen or so hospitals in Da City, well, nobody was an unknown quantity. For example, during several of the years I was on the road, I was dating one of my nursing school classmates. She was, let us say, “of the African persuasion”, whereas I am purely white bread. One fellow, who I was acquainted with only in passing, had occasion to work with one of my former partners, and was quoted, by that partner, as inquiring as to the status of my relationship with my classmate. The exact quote was relayed to me as “Is McFee still seeing that (‘N-word’) bitch?”

(clears throat) Uh, well, ya see, (a) the pejorative referenced nowadays by the circumlocution “The N-Word”, was not acceptable among persons of education or pretense of good upbringing, even in those benighted times. (b) My girlfriend was in no way, shape, manner or form “a bitch”. Indeed, the time we shared lifted my own life in ways that, now, nearly 40 years later, I am still discovering. And, of course, (c) My partner stood up for me, inquiring of Mr. “More Mouth Than Sense”, if his mother was still employing her skills as a practitioner of The Oldest Profession. For some reason, in my partner’s report, further conversation ended right about that point.

So, nearly everybody on the job in those days either knew everybody else, or knew of everybody else. So, it came to pass that I was detailed out to work with Lonnie Evans, let us call him. He was renowned as working two, perhaps three, full time jobs. This led to his reputation as the soundest sleeper in the department. In addition, since it seemed that he was acutely-on-chronically something like 2500 hours in arrears on his sleep allotment, well, when you add obstructive sleep apnea to that recipe, stir lightly, and allow to rise overnight, you get to observe what 40-60 seconds between breaths sounds like. And, due to the fact that he snored with a sound like a tractor trailer starting up on a very, very cold morning, well, if your 8th cranial nerve was functioning, you were not going to miss it.

I had a sleepless night, with only a few runs. (talk about mixed blessings!). The next night I reported to Medic Four, and regaled my partners, Doug and Andy, with a review of my night across town. Andy had had a similar experience, a few weeks previously.

He reported, “Yeah, Lonnie snored like a chainsaw starting up, alright. That wasn’t the bad part! Every time he stopped breathing, I snapped awake, wondering if I would have to start coding him! After considering this possibility for several minutes, I decided that I was NOT going to do mouth-to-mouth on him, so I got the bag-valve-mask, an oral airway, some tongue blades, and positioned the handie talkie where I could reach it in a hurry. While I did not sleep any better, at least I knew I wouldn’t have to wind up kissing his wrinkly ass!”