So, this one time, at band camp…..no, wait. That’s not quite right.
So TINS©. There I was FDASL©, detailed out to Medic Five from my home house. It appeared that I had offended the Patron Saint Of EMS and Street Medics, grievously, because I arrived to find Cletus, grinning widely, awaiting me. Shit.
I asserted The Prerogative of Seniority, and drove, leaving Cletus to medic. (Remember that. File under “Things That Come Back To Bite Me in The Ass”) The day passed pretty uneventfully, runs came in, patients got transported, and we, of course, fought disease and saved lives.
Now, at that time, nearly 40 years ago, Medic 5 was out toward the western margins of Da City. The firehouse called home was on Bliss Road, close by to the Western Expressway. Western suburbs included Gardenia and Westworld. Our hospital choices included a couple of small hospitals of the plethora that (at that time) dotted the city, or a couple of respectably sized facilities in those selfsame suburbs.
So, somewhat later in the afternoon dispatch invited us to respond to a “heart attack”. This took us nearly to the city limits. As we pulled up, there was a figure hopping around on the porch, arms a-waving, feet a-tapping, directing us to that dwelling. (Uh, you mean to tell me that every other house, lacking front porch frenetic interpretive dance performances, are NOT the scenes to which we were called? This is my shocked face!)
So, of course, Cletus bought into the pandemonium, whole hog. He leapt from the rig, just about as soon as I brought it to a stop, and beat feet into the house, leaving me, the handheld radio, and every other thing (except the medic bag) behind. I placed the ambulance in park, shut off the beacons, and radioed in to dispatch that we were on the scene.
I turned on the handheld radio, and followed him into the house. As the occupants opened the door, I was struck (nearly literally) by the pall of gunsmoke that wafted out into my face. Asking about my partner, I was directed into the rear of the house.
I reached the end of the hall, and, in the bedroom to my right noted my partner bending over a supine soul. I announced myself, and CLETUS TURNED ON ME, SNUB BARRELLED REVOLVER IN HAND. Of course, he was pointing the barrel at my belt buckle. I swept his hand over my head, removed the handgun from his hand, and asked him what the…er, fenomenon he thought he was doing.
“She had it in her hand, as I entered the room.”
“Uh huh. What else is up?”
“Howzabout you find out?”
As he turned to assess this lady, I figured that having a loaded gun, on my scene, and not in my control, was A BAD THING. I wasn’t about to remove it from the scene: that seemed to me to be very like tampering with evidence, so, instead, I opened the dresser next to me, opened the cylinder and dumped the bullets into one drawer, slammed that drawer shut, and tossed the revolver into another drawer, which I also shut.
I turned back to Cletus, and saw him reaching for the BVM (bag-valve-mask), as he evidently had determined that this soul was arrested. Hmmm. Trauma code. Kinda expecting a malign outcome.
I handed him the prep (handheld radio), asked what else he thought he would need, and ran to the truck for the cot. We wrestled the patient onto the cot, trotted from the house, and set Cletus up for a restful episode of solo CPR in the back of a moving ambulance. Yeah, totally.
I called to dispatch, asking the location of and directions to the nearest trauma center (it wasn’t my house, wasn’t my district.) I reported , “Medic Five, Code One, Westworld Hospital. GSW Chest, cardiac arrest. Notify police, no scout at scene.”
Sometimes, you can hear the double take over the radio. “Medic 5, did you say GSW?”
“Affirmative. GSW chest, cardiac arrest.”
“Medic 5, are you sure?”
“Yeah, dispatch, kinda sure. My partner retrieved the pistol from the victim’s hands, I tossed it into the dresser drawer next to her.”
“Very good, Medic 5. We’re calling the hospital now.”
So, I navigated the Tie Fighter that is an ambulance running code, through the suburban traffic. I was (pleasantly) surprised to see traffic moving aside, as if I were Moses at the Red Sea, as the siren and beacons made known our intent.
We arrived at Westworld Hospital, and turned our patient over to the ED crew who, unsurprisingly, called the code after a brief attempt at resuscitation. Cletus and I cleaned up the truck, and completed the trip sheet.
We were just about to head out, when dispatch called us, directing us to phone them.
Once I had done so, I was directed to phone another number, because the detective wanted to talk to me. Once I had identified myself, he launched into his inquiry.
“You the medic on the scene?”
“Yeah, me and Cletus.”
“So, this was a shooting, right?”
“Yep, gunsmoke and all.”
“So, where is the pistol?”
“I dumped the cartridges into the dresser drawer, and tossed the gun itself into the top drawer.”
There was a pause. “You know, you have messed up my scene, and tainted my chain of custody.”
I contemplated this for a moment. “Well, sir, there was no officer on the scene I could turn the gun over to, and I was reluctant to leave a loaded, unsecured, firearm floating about on my scene. I did not think it would be clever to (a) remove a gun from a likely crime scene, (b) have in my possession a firearm that had been implicated in a likely crime scene, or (c) carry said firearm into a hospital with me. So, I did not identify any better option, at that time and on that scene.”
Life Lesson Number One: Sometimes, you have to extemporize.
Life Lesson Number Two: to quote John Farnam: “You may be killed when you take decisive action. You may likewise be killed when you do nothing. Either way, dithering is toxic. Indecision and delay will prove fatal. So, size-up the situation quickly. Hit the “go” button. Don’t look back.”
http://defense-training.com/2018/who-dare/ (datelined 14 May 2018)