Back In The Day, as you may have surmised, I worked for Da City as a medic. In those misty days of yore, we were dispatched by voice, our dispatchers contacting us on FM radio channels, on the VHF High Band. (that means that there were these things like cell phones, only way, way larger and heavier, and they weren’t dialed. Instead, like one of the old fashioned telephones, there was only one “line” and that “line” connected us with dispatchers who would tell us about emergencies that they had learned about via their telephones. And, ours had no wires. These “radios”, for that was what we called these things, used radio waves similar to those in your parent’s cars, right around the sorts your parents use to listen to their old, old music.)
Now, the radiotelephone devices we used were, to be charitable, NOT “high fidelity”. Sometimes, it was listening to a conversation in a crowded and noisy room. In addition, not every one of our dispatchers were blessed with voices and diction that reflected well on the musical qualities of the English language. Indeed, some sounded as if they were practicing their Demosthenes Imitations, dispatching around mouths full of river pebbles.
So it came to pass that one dark and stormy night, my partner and I were dispatched to a run someplace in Da City, for a person with, and I swear to Crom that this is what I heard, “rectal breathing”.
Now, there was generally a random correlation between what we were told, and the actual nature of the run. Several occasions featured runs for “sick person”, who, it developed, had noticed that they were suffering from lead poisoning, likely right around the time that the last gunshot finished echoing. Another featured a run on a “shooting”, which, once we were on the scene, featured nobody shot. As soon as it was clear that the jackwagon complaining of “sinus problems” was the source of the call, we departed, telling the nominal patient, “Gotta go, somebody hereabouts got shot, and we gotta go find him!”
So, we chalked it up to extraordinarily bad diction and a low fidelity radio system, when we found our patient complaining of “rectal bleeding”.