Fun And Games Off Duty · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Pre Planning Your Scene

Are We Ever, Really, Off Duty?

Are you ever off duty?

I had spent some time praying at The Altar of The Overtime Fairy, and with the proceeds had decided to take The Long Suffering Wife on a cruise. Now, one of her idiosyncrasies is that she is allergic–VIOLENTLY, anaphylaxis, throat swelling, red faced allergic, to tree nuts. Remember that. It will return to feature prominently in this “war story”.

The cruise line we selected had gotten our business previously. The personnel are unfailingly pleasant, professional, attentive, and on their game. The food is excellent, the accommodations are pleasant, the cabin stewards are magicians who ghost in and make the beds and change the linen without our seeing them. There are reasons that we are repeat customers.

We select the formal dining room each time. There are large tables, so we get acquainted with fellow cruisers, the food is outstanding: as good as, and generally superior to our own home cooking. On this cruise we joined two folks from Minnesota, a contractor and his girlfriend, and two other couples, the men both volunteer firefighters from a small town in Canada.

Firefighters are part storyteller, as am I (surprising, no?). It develops that our other two companions were storytellers, as well. So, mealtimes were fun, great food, round robins of telling tales, and no workaday cares.

Now, it seems that, for some reason, we had failed to make clear to the serving staff my wife’s allergy to nuts. (likely, because we had failed to, ya know, TELL THEM!, or something.) So, one evening, when my wife took her first bite of the chicken that she had ordered, she chewed it for a moment, then spat it out, turning to me with a peculiar look on her face.

I asked her what was the matter, and she told me, “I don’t know, but my mouth is burning as if I had just eaten a nut.”

From the corner of my eye, I noticed our firefighter companions in still life, forks immobile in mid air, as Mrs. Stretcher Ape and I had our conversation. I asked her how her breathing was, and she told me that was fine, but that the burning was concerning. I agreed.

She keeps an epi pen in her purse, which, of course, presently was in our cabin. She did have benadryl on her person, and I directed her to take two, right now. She did so, and we all watched her for a moment. I then directed her to give me a third capsule of benadryl, which I opened, and poured onto her palm, directing her to “lick that up, now!”

One of the firefighters shuffled his chair back a bit, as if clearing for lift off, and asked me if I needed any help. Our contractor friend, with whom we had gone on shore excursions, observed that I was an ex medic, ex ED nurse, and presently a Physician’s Assistant. I looked at the firefighter,  perched on the literal edge of his seat, and his partner, similarly (not so very) relaxed, and said, “It looks like things are OK for now, but I’m anticipating the possibility of that changing. Let’s give it 20 minutes to see how things develop. Thanks for the back up.”

I turned my attention back to my wife, and pasted a fake, but encouraging, smile on my face. “How you doing, Honey?”

She thought for a second, and answered, “OK so far.”

The waiter had noticed our diorama like table, and the absence of conversation, and walked over to see if he could assist us. I briefed him on the foregoing, and our suspicion that the chicken may have been cross contaminated with some sort of nut in some manner. Alarmed, he told us he’d look into it and be right back.

He was. Along with the Maitre D’. Both assured us that there were no nuts whatsoever in the recipe for my wife’s selection, although it was possible that there were some nut oils remaining on the surface upon which the chicken had been prepared. Effusively, they both asked after my wife’s well being, and apologized for this occurrence.

By this point, she reported that the burning was receding, and no swelling nor shortness of breath, as well as no itching was present.

I noticed that everybody else at the table, finally, resumed their meals.

Once I was convinced that her symptoms were, in fact, receding, and appeared likely to continue doing so, we retired to our cabin for the night. She, and I, thanked our companions for their vigilance, and reassured everyone that it appeared that her reaction was on the way to being resolved.

So, the question: are we ever REALLY off duty?

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Fun And Games Off Duty · guns · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Pre Planning Your Scene · Sometimes You Get to Think That You Have Accomplished Something!

I Hate Late Night Phone Calls

Many years ago, I was working midnights in a small ER in northern Michigan. One night, around 0300, the phone rang. I answered it to find my wife on the other end. Her opening conversational gambit certainly caught my attention.

“Honey, it’s me. Don’t panic.”

Sounded like good advice to me. “OK, I’m not panicking. What might make me consider panicking?”

“Well, when you hear on the scanner that the sheriff is sending a car out here, I thought you’d get worried.”

Hmmm, the hospital still has coffee. Why would the sheriff send a car out to my home, populated by my wife and (presumably) sleeping children? I asked, “Why is the sheriff on the way out there?”

She responded, as if telling me about the dog getting into the trash, “There is a guy on the porch.”

Remember the guy-on-the-porch story I told y’all recently? Yeah, I certainly did. I was beginning to very much NOT like the direction this conversation was taking, so I asked her, “What gun do you have?”

“I don’t.”

This required remedy. “I’ll wait while you fix that.”

My normally clear thinking bride seemed somewhat slow this morning. “Huh?”

“Go get a gun, right now. I’ll wait.”

“What? Why would I get a gun?”

“Because I think it would be a good thing if you had something more compelling than your girlish good looks and winning personality should Mr. Porch decide that now was the time to enter, and lay hands on you and the children. Go. Now.”

Evidently Mr. Porch had decided that he did not, really, need to enter THIS house on THIS night, because this porch guy had elected to wander off before the sheriff’s deputy arrived, and before The Darling Wife felt the need for a little show-and-tell. No loud noises, nobody got hurt, Score! Score, and SCORE!

Fun And Games Off Duty · guns · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Pre Planning Your Scene

The Disturbed and Unruly Pedestrian

Nearly fifteen years ago, we lived four miles outside of a small town in the northern reaches of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. It got really dark at night, and there were only 3 or 4 neighbors in the mile on either side of us along our curving country road. It is there one night that my family and I met a strange soul.

It was middling late at night, after the children had gone to bed, and my wife and I were watching television and talking quietly. The home we had at that time was a raised ranch, with the living room approximately 6 feet higher than the entry hallway. We heard a knocking at our door, and, being the reasonable and prudent ex Da City street medic that I am (read: untrusting), I dressed appropriately prior to answering the middle-of-the-night knock. I placed my Browning High Power into my belt holster on my strong side, and secured a .357 revolver in a crossdraw holster on my weak side. Both were hidden beneath the sweater I was wearing that chilly autumn evening. I placed a 12 ga pump shotgun at the top of the stairs, and handed my wife the AR 15, and my second revolver, with the direction to wait by the telephone, also at the top of the stairs. Then, I went to greet our guest.

Through the closed (and still locked) door, I asked what I could do to help him.  In the course of my greeting, it struck me as peculiar that, chilly as it was outside, he was barefooted and shirtless.  He asked to come in to use my telephone, which I was not about to allow him to do.  I offered to call somebody for him. That was not, it seemed, satisfactory. He repeated his (now) demand that I let him inside, and I again declined. He began to catalog my character flaws and personality shortcomings, and at about that point my wife determined that the time had come for a Law Enforcement Consult. She called 911, and began to explain to the nice dispatcher how much we would enjoy the presence of a deputy.

Our visitor was escalating, and growing more creative with his appraisal of my social skills deficits, and at last announced that he would simply kick in my door, lay hands on me, and then use my phone. I noted that that was a strategy not calculated to enhance his long term, high level wellness (that’s just the nurse in me, coming out…). He looked at me, surprised, for a moment, and repeated his threat to violently enter and assault me. Changing tack, I told him that I would kill him, if he should act on this plan.

Perhaps I ought to note that I am not any sort of physically imposing specimen of burly manhood. In fact, I’m more of the Walter Mitty with bad eyesight type. Ok, heavily armed Walter Mitty with bad eyesight. Our guest seemed to doubt that I could indeed stop him, and asked me how, possibly, I thought I could do so.

Sensing a Teaching Moment, I told him “I kind of think that this Browning here on my belt will stop you”, to which he replied, “You don’t think a puny 9 mm will hurt me, do you?”

Reasonable thought. I responded reasonably: “I don’t know about that, but I’m pretty sure that it will distract you, while my wife empties the 30 round magazine from that AR into your soon to be dead ass. It seems to me that if you play your cards wrong, the nice deputy will never hear your side of things. You probably ought to simply wait on the porch, and tell him all about what an asshole I am, once he arrives”.

It seems that our new friend not only knew my mother, but the deputy’s mother as well. (at least to hear him talk, he seemed to think so). Fortunately, he seemed so focused upon reviewing my mother’s poor life choices, that he failed to implement one of his own, remaining on my porch for this little lecture series. After several chapters of this analysis, he finally felt the time had come to move along, and so he wandered off into the night.

Maintaining a vigilant posture, we waited for the officer to arrive. Mr Congeniality did not make another appearance, and, as I saw the patrol car enter our driveway, we secured the firearms, and greeted the officer. The officer asked, reasonably enough, where we thought our guest had gone. I pointed out the edge of the pool of illumination our yard light provided, and stated “Right about there”. The officer said he’d look around the area for our late, unlamented guest, and see if anything was up. We never heard anything more, but I was glad I had something more compelling than my boyish good looks and sunny personality to greet Mr. Happy when he demanded to be let in our door.

Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Sometimes You Get to Think That You Have Accomplished Something!

Haldol “Seizure”

 

While I was in my two year RN program, I was working for Da City, on EMS. Once the program director had made sufficiently clear to me that, no, I could not skip lectures, and, since it was, ya know, spelled out explicitly in the program rules that I had to show my fuzzy butt up for all classes and suchlike, well, I showed my fuzzy butt up as directed.

Of course, this meant that I was acutely-on-chronically sleep deprived. I figure that, by the time I graduated, I was on the order of 2,000 hours short on sleep, maybe more. So, entertaining things happened.

Fer instance, TINS©, one day I had arranged for one of the day shift guys to arrive at around 0530, instead of 0700, because I had clinical at 0700. Imagine my disappointment when my friend did not arrive at 0530. or 0600. I called him, he apologized effusively, and rolled in around 0630. I, of course, unassed the fire house, and beat feet towards clinical.

I probably was going around 55 when I passed the patrol car in the 35 mile an hour zone that was East Vernor. He hit the lights, and initiated a traffic stop. I, no surprise, stopped.

At this time, this was the Seventh Precinct. I had caught a run with one of these crews, probably a couple of weeks prior to this close encounter with law enforcement, for a “seizure”. My partner, we’ll call him Johnny, was medic-ing that particular night. As we pulled up, one officer was excitedly directing us to “Hurry Up! She’s seizing!”

Once we made our way into the residence, there was, indeed, a woman on the floor who appeared very much like someone in the middle of a grand mal seizure. Johnny went to work, getting vitals, and I headed off to see if there were any medication on the counter, or other indications of what might be going on.

To my surprise, as I passed her head, her eyes tracked my movements. Startled, I knelt down, and asked her, “Ma’am? What’s going on?”

She spoke (surprising, as this does not happen in an individual having a seizure), saying, “I’m having a seizure!”

Since this was my semester in psych, I had been studying (again, surprising) anti psychotic medications and their adverse reactions. Therefore, I asked her, “Are you taking medicines for your nerves?”

Yep.”

Any new ones?”

Yeah, on my counter over there.” (still tonic-ing and clonic- away). I retrieved a nearly full bottle of haloperidol, and asked her, “Is this the new medicine?”

Yeah, that’s the new stuff.”

I looked at Johnny, and we nodded. “Ma’am, we’ll get you to TBTCIDC, and they will fix you right up! Some cogentin, and you ought to be as good as new!”

The cops looked puzzled. I explained. “Sometimes this sort of medicine causes this sort of reaction. There’s a shot to reverse it, and the doc will either change her dose, or her medicine.”

For the rest of that schedule, the officers in that precinct thought I could walk on water. This was A Good Thing, as I put on my 4 way flashers, put the car in park, and exited the car, hoping to make a rapid explanation, and skedaddle so I would not be too, too late for clinical.

Once I was clear of the car, still in my EMS uniform, the officer driving the car stood up, waved me off, and said, “Oh, it’s YOU. Go on, just slow it down, willya?”

Yessir, Officer! Will do! Tenkyouberramuch!”

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

“Mister, I never seen anyone fall asleep standing up, before!”

 

So, TINS©, TIWFDASL©, and running on around 2 hours sleep a day, between work, school, studying and etcetera. One night, I was driving and Doug was medic-ing, and we caught a run for a sick person. Now, in Da City, it gets cold in the winter. In addition, in Michigan, in February, there’s this thing, the locals call it “snow”, all over the place. It’s cold, and, once it gets all over your socks, your feet get wet, and, being February in Michigan, they get really, really cold.

I had imagined that folks who lived there, would have figured that out, after a winter or three. I was mistaken. So there we were, in somebody’s living room around oh-dark-hundred, and folks were scrambling to find shoes, and coats, and ID, and medical cards, because, nobody had figured out, going to Da Hospital entailed exiting their warm, dry home, walking through the snow to the curb, and, once EMS had delivered you the Da Hospital, identifying yourself and providing such insurance documentation as you possessed.

Seemed like a new concept to these folks.

So, while the scramble happened, I found a nice cozy doorway, and leaned up against it, and went to sleep. Standing up. On a scene. In DaCity. With my partner next to me.

The next thing I knew, Doug was nudging me, and demanding the keys. “Why?”

Because I’m driving.”

Why are you driving?”

Because you are too sleepy to drive. Here’s the trip sheet.”

I don’t know the information to complete it.”

I completed it. While you were sleeping. Standing up.”

Recognizing when it was useless to argue (particularly when he was right), we settled the patient in to the back of the truck, I buckled myself in, and I tried to get my eyes to focus enough to make sense of the trip sheet. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed my patient, an elderly grandmotherly type, looking at me peculiarly.

Can I help you, Ma’am?”

Mister, they must work you folks awful hard.”

Well, Ma’am, it gets kinda busy sometimes, Why do you ask?”

Mister, I ain’t never seen nobody fall asleep standing up before!”

Ma’am, it’s kind of a novelty to me, too!”

guns · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Life in Da City! · Pre Planning Your Scene

Medic 5 Heart Attack

 

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?”

“I dunno.”

“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)

Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Life in Da City! · Uncategorized

History Lessons

Long ago, and far away, I was FDASL © in Da City. On EMS, when I was partnered with Doug, things were generally smooth, as he was a great partner, had his head in the game, and we worked well together. In addition, he was a genuinely nice guy.

We took turns medic-ing, and driving. One night, Doug was driving, and I was doing patient care. Well, TINS ©, Doug and I were out on a scene, with a gentleman who was some variety of sick. For some reason, now lost in antiquity, this soul felt compelled to deliver an oration on the subject of The History Of Oppression Of People Of Color (such as himself), By The Blue Eyed Devil (that would be me).

He had pretty much completed the review of Prehistory, The Roman Empire and Oppression, and was beginning the preliminary discussion of Black Folks Being Oppressed In The Middle Ages, when he stopped for a breath. Turning to my partner, himself of The African Persuasion, our patient invited him to participate in my education. “Ain’t that right, Bro?”

Doug looked at this person, as if he had just discovered a new species of insect, and responded. “Sir, ya know, if I were you, I’d speak a little more nicely to my partner, here. Me, I think you’re an asshole, and just as soon as my partner has had enough of your shit, well, we’re out of here.”

My tutor turned to me, goggle eyed. I smiled, and (just as if I really meant it) I said, “Uh, sir? Weren’t you just about to tell us what sort of sick you were, and whether you wanted us to take you to the hospital?”