Life in Da City!

Let’s Be Friends

So, in the late Seventies/early Eighties, there was This Thing, called “Punk Rock”. At that time, the aficionados of this genre of music favored spiky hair, boots, torn jeans, and what might be charitably be characterized as “a bad attitude”. Surprisingly, venues favorable to hosting this sort of entertainment, did not tend to run to the country club zip codes, rather, the neighborhoods seemed to be more of the druggies-in-the-alley-and-hookers-on-the-corner sort. That meant (ta-Daah!), Downtown Da City!

So one night, there we were, TINS ©, TIWFDASL ©, and I was working my schedule at Medic 17. For some reason, Da City had just gotten new ambulances, replacing the second generation of 100,000 mile relics from the Dark Ages. Medic 17 had been blessed with a new ride. Athos had just waxed the floor of the patient compartment, and Porthos and I had checked equipment, washed the exterior, and generally spiffed up our home for the next 12 hours. A couple of hours into the shift, half a dozen runs, nightfall, life was good.

So, having casually followed the news, more to laugh at just how many ways they could mis-report the runs that I myself had personally been on the scene for, I was aware that there was some sort of punk concert that evening. The details were hazy, but the location part of the story became clear as we caught a run to The Michigan Theatre, for an assault.

DBCPD at that time had a special detail colloquially called The Big Four, with three (huge!) plain-clothed officers, and one uniformed officer. This unit was special called to scenes where general jakiness suggested the need for reinforcements.

The Big Four was there, on the scene, as we arrived. The uniformed officer pointed out one sullen lad, who appeared to have been on the receiving end of one enthusiastically applied, Mark 1, Mod 0, butt whooping. The officer explained that Our New Friend had exited the show, along with his three friends,and had evidently determined that it would Be A Good Thing should they expectorate upon passing residents.


It appeared that these fine young specimens of enthusiastic youth had finally encountered The Wrong Resident upon whom to expectorate, for he had pasted Spitee Number One most vigorously. We invited the young gentleman to enter our ambulance, to assess him and offer him care.

Our New Friend sat upon the cot, and Porthos returned to the driver’s seat, while Athos and I saw to our patient. Athos began the litany of questions our trip sheet demanded, and sought the “History of Present Illness”. (ie, “what happened to you tonight?”). For some reason, he was not providing an abundance of details, and finally spat a collection of bloody glutenous mess onto the floor of the rig.


Athos handed him a wad of gauze, and invited him to “Wipe that up, eh?”. Mr. Spit appeared not to take it in the spirit in which it was intended, and drew back his right arm, balling the fist.


I was NOT about to watch this asshole punch my partner, and so, with my right hand, I released and unlimbered my heavy flash light, tensing up to hit a line drive with his left eyeball.


Then, inspiration struck. I really did not want to smack this joker (notwithstanding the fact that half-a-dozen police officers would in all likelihood establish in their notes that Mr. Spit had possessed these very same injuries prior to our arrival). Dunno where it came from, but I launched into some street theater.


I ducked beneath his right arm, placed my left hand on his right shoulder, and began to babble. “Noooo! Don’t be like that! We’re friendly little guys! Let’s be friends!”, followed by an idiot grin.


He looked at me, as if he had only now realized that I was crazy as hell, and had not recently taken my meds. I glanced at Athos, and he looked at me, similarly surprised, but looking a bit disappointed that he was gonna be deprived of the opportunity to thump a fool. I looked back at Mr. Spit, idiot grin still pasted large across my face, and waited for him to make a move that appeared to be a punch.


One of the officers became curious, long around this point in the performance, about what our hold up was, and poked his head into the rig. Seeing Mr. Spit with a balled up and drawn back fist, and me and my bat-sized flashlight coiled up for the right field fence, he determined that Our New Friend was not all that needful of medical attention, so much as a little continuing education on Proper Deportment When In The Ambulance. He grasped Mr. Spit’s collar, and, WHOOSH!, he was gone.


The next I saw of him, Our Friend was sprawled across the hood of a patrol car, and a Very Large Officer was whispering into his ear. While laying atop him. Didn’t look too comfortable.


The uniformed officer poked his head into our module, and we exchanged car designators, and he waved goodbye. “We have everything under control here. Your friend just refused care.”


Another night of saving lives, in Da City!

Life in Da City!

Moving Targets

So, some background. I have spent some time in urban EMS, as perhaps you had determined from both the title of the blog, as well as my tales of rollicking good times. I have noticed a few things.

Thing The First: Typically, EMS service populations are not drawn preferentially from what might be termed “life’s winners”. Indeed, for some reason, the log books skew towards the underachievers, the disenfranchised, the unsuccessful, and those who, generally, actively choose the stonier path upon which to direct their lives. Thus, the Donna Reed Quotient is kinda low. Clean cut? Not so common. Well spoken? Again, um, no. Conversations revealing polish, education, and familiarity with The Classic Works of English Literature? Nope. Preventive, or any other sort of, maintenance in evidence? Uncommonly. Not of the dwelling, not of the vehicles in the yard on blocks, not of the furniture, not of the persons of the folks you meet.

There are, of course, exceptions to this observation. Among the impoverished portion of the community, there are folks who are clean, polite, energetic, hardworking, and who try to make that which they do have, last, and their households and persons reflect this effort. Their children can be seen, when you are on the scene, quietly, out of the way, watching you perform your EMS magic, when they are not completing their homework, or accomplishing chores about the home. But, these folks are outliers.

Thing The Second: There is a well nigh unitary correlation between what might be considered Dumb Life Choices (drug use, intoxication on a regular basis, failing to pursue an education, to name a few high profile such choices), and poor hygiene and poor housekeeping. Again, there are contrary examples, and I see within them a spark of potential for redirection of self into paths perhaps more life enhancing, but (1) they are exceptions, and (2) folks have to make these transitions themselves, because they value these changes, and will not do so because I am so freaking perfect, and think that they should. Because, for one, I’m not.

Thing The Third: There is a similarly high correlation between squalid domestic settings, and infestation with vermin. Deer hunters know (And, after all, I live in rural Michigan, and deer hunting is One Of The Eight Sacraments) that, if you want to attract deer (or any other game species), you provide those things that they seek, and they will come. Food source, shelter from wind, water, protected lanes of travel between these things? Set up your blind, the deer will come a’calling.

Similarly, if you want roaches, provide them with water (check your pipes), food (which we spell g-a-r-b-a-g-e), shelter (cracks in your cabinets, walls, or the openings for electric outlets).

As you can infer from the foregoing, dilapidated housing, with inattentive folks (because stoned/drunk/other), and a failure of the concept “take out the trash! Wash your dishes every several days! Remove/reduce the clutter everywhere that provides shelter for vermin!”, well, you get, at the least, bugs.

As attractive as that sounded to me, and as fun as it looked as well when in these houses, well, I was reluctant to form my own “Wild Kingdom” to enjoy in my very own home. I developed the habit of shifting my weight from one foot to the other, regularly, in hopes of at least providing a moving target for the insect life present in the biome. Kind of a common tic among my colleagues, at that time.

So, TINS ©, TIWFDASLIDC ©, and in the course of doing so, my partner, Doug, and I transported a soul to TSBTCIDC. Of course, this soul originated from, let us say, a domicile that would NOT win a Good Housekeeping Award, although Merck might be interested in seeking new antibiotics there. We arrived at TSBTCIDC, and I was giving report to Mallory. I was winding my tale up, about to deliver the epilogue, when she interrupted me.

Do you have to go to the bathroom?”

(Me, shifting weight from left foot to right foot, rhythmically and repetitively) “uh, no. Why?”

(Her, looking skeptical) “Because you’re doing the potty dance.”

I looked at my feet. Looked at her. Looked at my feet. Looked at her. “Nope, I just got into the habit of doing this, so as to make it harder for the roaches to hitch a ride home.”

Just so you know, that is not a particularly successful pick up line. For some reason, the women do NOT find that insight alluring.

Who knew?