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!

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?”

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!”

Fun And Games Off Duty · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact · Pre Planning Your Scene

“Social distancing”, before it was KEWL!

So, TINS ©, TIWFDASL ©, working midnights in a little ED in a little hospital, Up North. One fine day, I awakened at the crack of noon, only to find that TDW-Mark I had my afternoon planned out for me. Our little town had a poverty of grocery options, so every so often, TDW-Mark I would venture over to the next county (or two), shopping in the Mega Mart found there.

This was a sort of yin/yang experience. Yin: inconvenient drive, dragging young children along, considerable time devoted to the expedition. Yang: better selection, better prices, and Family! Bonding! Time!.

So, off we went. TDW had a list, of course, and she was mission focused. That left me to corral the kids, and prevent them from adding unauthorized items to the cart. (“No, Adam! You cannot get marshmallow cocoa sugar treats for breakfast! No, I do not care what all the other kids eat, you are not all those other kids, and your parents are ogres, who insist that you eat something in the same phylum as wholesome, when you eat!”)

As I hovered, redirecting my children, I noticed that this particular store seemed infested with bovine obliviots. I reached this conclusion after several near collisions wherein Obliviot A would nearly run one or the other child over, and then look at me irately when I intervened, and noted that striking my child with a cart would result in severe injury. To the obliviot.

Whatever. I figured it ranked up there with a “beware of dog” sign. Likely, my jury would think that I had an obligation to warn the lowing masses that there was a ravening dad about, and they might want to take suitable precautions. Before I did.

So, after several near misses, I decided that I had had enough. Most of the traffic went this way up this aisle, and that way down that aisle, a fact that I capitalized upon. I settled myself, straddle gaited, in the very middle of the aisle, upstream from my wife and children. Yes, I effectively blocked the entire aisle. That, was, in fact, my “plan a”. My intent was that, succeeding in “plan a”, I would not have to implement “plan b”, which would be accompanied by shrieking and blood, both emanating from the inattentive obliviot who succeeded in striking, and hurting, one of my children.

So, there I stood, colossus like, and, of course, one of the bovine meandered down the aisle. Finding me in her way, she spoke. (surprise!) “You are blocking the aisle!”

I smiled, a smile that in no way reached my eyes. Indeed, most of my teeth showed. “That is correct.”

She advanced, as if to strike me with the cart. I smiled wider. “You have to move! I cannot get past you!”

“Yep! That’s sort of my plan!”

She was not taking in the entire picture. “But, you have to move!”

More teeth on my part. “Well, ma’am, why don’t you just move me? If, that is, you think you will survive that encounter, uninjured?”

Unwilling to take that bet, she continued her protests. I glanced over my shoulder, noted that my charges were rounding the corner, and clearing this aisle. I waved, cheerily, and made my way to the next aisle, which I then blocked.

Soon, TDW-Mark I asked me what I was doing. I replied, “Have you noticed the folks who nearly struck the kids with their carts?”

“Yes! That is so rude!”

I agreed. “Yep. Do you know what is successful in preventing that?”

“No, what?”

“My convincing them that, yes, I am crazy enough to put a beat down on them, should they successfully strike my children! It turns out, if I look crazy enough, they shop in some other corner of the store, and my children are not gonna get struck by an idiot with a shopping cart!”

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

Caught in a Snowbank with Marielle.

One schedule Doug rotated onto days, and I found myself working with Marielle. In keeping with usual practice, we rotated driver vs medic duties. One snowy night found us en route to a “heart attack” in the East Side projects. We arrived on the scene, so advised dispatch, and trudged to the indicated door. Things progressed as per usual, and our patient and Marielle seated themselves in the module.

While we were taking care of business inside, the snow had continued to fall. In addition, I had elected to park the ambulance in a snowdrift. Generally, no big thing, either drive our happy ass out of the snow, or rock things a few times, and off we go. As it happened, our truck had settled, snow had fallen in job lots, and, well, rocking that big ass truck was not about to extract us from that snowbank, at least, not tonight. I radioed dispatch to share this fact with them, requesting apparatus meet us with a wrecker. No go, they were at the scene of a multiple alarm fire across town.

Marielle and I discussed this revelation, and tried to brainstorm an escape from our snowy parking spot. I tried to rock us out, several times, and accomplished just about nothing. While I was allowing the tires to cool down, and contemplating my next move, I was startled by a knock on the driver’s window.

The gentleman who had knocked, evidently a resident of the projects, once I rolled the window down, asked me if I was stuck.

I admitted that, indeed, we were stuck. He noted that this might interfere with our transporting this patient to the hospital. (remember her? She was kind of the reason (a) we had jobs, and (b) we had come to find ourselves stuck here.) My new friend admonished me, “Don’t go anywhere!”, and I thought that I had that pretty much covered.

Minutes later I realized why he had so admonished me. This gentleman, and around a half dozen other residents gathered around our ambulance, and everybody picked their own piece of bumper, and commenced to heaving. We moved, briefly, until everything settled again, refusing to move any more.

I tasked Marielle to maneuver the vehicle, and I joined our block club meeting at the rear of the ambulance. Another maybe six or seven souls had exited their nice, warm homes, and joined us in the knee deep snow. At night. And cold as a politician’s heart (should such an organ actually exist!)

As it developed, the bumper was taken, so extra folks tugged on door handles, pushed on their fellows’ backs, and so added perhaps 12 “citizen power” to our efforts at movement.

Slowly, jerkily, gradually, the truck moved closer to the roadway, and eased out of the parking lot. Soon, we were in the middle of the street, and able to move under (the manufacturer supplied) our own power. I effusively thanked the gathering of neighbors, recognizing their irreplaceable efforts, and we set off to the hospital.

Nearly 40 years later, I remember those folks. When I hear smack talk about inner city residents, or residents of public housing, or people-who-don’t-look-like-us, I realize that, perhaps there is less sunscreen sold in those precincts, but Children of God are Children of God. Some are vermin, some are saints, and most simply want to pay their bills, raise their children and love their families, and make it from one day to the next.

Not altogether different from me.

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

Ham radio at Fort Custer State Park.

So, TINS©, TIWFDASL©…well, Ok, I wasn’t, really. TDW-Mark 1, our kids, and I were away on vacation, camping in Custer State Park, in South Dakota. TDW-Mark 1 had planned on a drive across the northern tier of states, culminating in a visit to Mount Rushmore, The Crazy Horse Memorial, and generally seeing the sights of Not The Un-Named Flyover State. So, there we were, cleaning up after dinner, and the air got surprisingly still, and felt, well, “heavier”. There had been thunderstorm warnings earlier in the afternoon on the broadcast radio, and I figured that a little visit to Ham Radioland was in order.

I turned the car on, powered on the amateur radio, and set the radio to one of the several Ham Radio repeaters in the area of the park. TDW-Mark 1 wandered over to see what her husband was up to.

What I was up to, was taking notes on the “weather net” in progress. There were reports of rotation on the observed thunderstorms, and occasional reports of funnel clouds. TDW-Mark 1 decided that it would be clever to get all the clean up done, and everything put away. She corralled the kids, and set them to work.

One of the other campers wandered over, likely thinking that I had found “The Game” on the radio, and appeared surprised that I did NOT have the broadcast radio on, in my vehicle.

“Whatcha listening to ?”

“The local radio amateurs are weather spotting, and calling their reports. Some of them have seen funnel clouds, others have seen rotation in some of the thunderstorms that they have seen.”

“What’s that mean?”

“That it is very likely that one of these storms may touch down, and the folks near there will have a tornado to call their very own!”

“That sounds like it could be bad!”

“Yep. That could be very bad.”

Right around this point in the tutorial on Weather Spotting In America, And Amateur Radio’s Role Therein, TDW-Mark 1 returned, both to inform me that our campsite had been battened down (or, as battened down as a pop-up camper was going to get, anyhow), and inquire as to what was my brilliant contingency plan in the event that all our little family was to be offered a trip to Oz, by Thor himself.

I had noticed, upon our arrival, that the bathrooms appeared to be very substantially built. Fine brick structures seemed well suited, in my estimation, to the task of sheltering my family from the storm. I so instructed TDW-Mark 1. “If it appears that we are going to get heavy weather, we will hit the showers, select a toilet in the middle of the building, and call it home for as long as necessary.”

“Any sign that things are heading our way?”

“Presently all the funnels, and all the rotation are to our east, and northeast, so we are unlikely to catch any of it. If they close the weather net in the next several hours, we ought to be clear.”

The other camper, overhearing all this, began to turn his head, just like at a tennis match, goggle eyed at our seemingly tranquil acceptance of the potential of holing up in a toilet against some tornado or other. “Aren’t you guys scared at all by this?”

TDW-Mark 1 had his answer. “What good would that do? He’s a medic and ER nurse, I’m an ER nurse, he’s keeping an ear on the weather for us. Tell you what: keep an eye on our campsite. If you see us scurrying to the bathrooms, gather your family and join us, because it is unlikely that we all will catch the trots simultaneously!”

The look on his face was nearly priceless.

Even better? The fact that we heard the Skywarn Net stand down, around a hour later.

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

The Bat Story

It must have been around 3 years ago: the animals are now due for their rabies booster.

So, TINS©, TDW-Mark II and I were lolling around in the living room, she was watching some program or other, I was reading. She nudged me, at one point, and directed me, “You ought to see what it is that has your fat cat running! You know that he never runs!”

She was referencing one of my two cats, that I had acquired as kittens, brothers, and had attached themselves to me. They would, of an evening, begin to direct me that it was time to go to bed, by sitting in the middle of the doorway to the bedroom, and yowling. If that failed to direct my attention where they wanted it, one or the other would sit on my lap, and head butt me, meowing plaintively. The one, Laurel, was, well, “calorically enhanced”, let us term it, and not the most active feline in the neighborhood. His brother, Hardy, well, he would direct me that it was time to play “fetch” wherein I would toss a yarn ball off a ways, he would retrieve it, dropping it at my feet, and then sit as if waiting for me to toss it again.

The night in question, once my Darling Wife had directed my attention from my book and towards my environment, I did, indeed, note the heavy galumphing footsteps of Laurel. She was right, he rarely ran for any reason. I got up, and found him and Hardy settled in, as if pointing, with their attention directed at a small brown furry thing huddled in a corner of our bedroom. Once it moved a bit, I saw the wings, and realized that we had a bat in our house.

I had been an ED nurse for decades at this point, and had the opportunity to administer RIG (Rabies Immune Globulin: an antibody rich solution, to arrest the ability of the rabies virus to infect you), as well as Rabavert (the vaccine, which allowed your own immune system to produce antibodies to prevent developing the disease. The protection provided by RIG is short term, only). I was familiar with the experiences of the patient receiving these medications. In most cases, an unprovoked attack by a dog “that was acting strangely” was the precipitating event. The rest were folks who had handled, been bit by, or had been asleep/intoxicated/helpless in the room with a bat.

Therefore, there was no way I was going to handle any bat for any reason. I left to retrieve my shop vac.

Upon my return, both the bat and my cats, now joined by TDW’s dogs, were collected in a different corner of the bedroom, with TDW providing over watch. I realized that KNOWING where the bat was, would considerably enhance our efforts at containing him, and so I retrieved my inspection camera. This is a camera on the end of a fiber optic stalk, such that you can twist it into a corner not readily visible, to see what is there. I had previously employed it to find, and avoid, wiring and pipes in the wall I was fixing to hammer a nail into. Now, it was my (sorry…) Bat Scope!

The animals appeared to be congregating around one end of our baseboard hot water heating radiator, so I peeked in there. With the scope. Yep, there he was! I handed the scope to TDW, and attempted to entrain him in the air the vacuum was sucking up, but no joy (for me…). I suggested that she poke him with the stalk, to see if he’d move, lose his grip on whatever he was clinging to, and wind up in the vacuum.

Well, once she did, he snarled.

THAT was unexpected!

She was ready to draw down on him, and send him to Bat Heaven on a 9 mm carriage, but I wondered if exchanging an intact (and possibly rabid) bat, for a haz mat scene of scattered bat bodily fluids, each droplet potentially rabid, was really any sort of improvement, at all.

She did not think so, either, after a moment’s reflection.

So, she poked the bat, again.

Of course, he snarled, again, but, this time, he was dislodged, and sucked into the vacuum.

Realizing that this was a good thing, I unplugged the vacuum, sealed the end of the hose with a baggie and duct tape, and secured our unwelcome guest out on the porch. In December. In The Un-Named Flyover State. Where it was around 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

The next morning, I was off, and we took the critters (the ones we wanted to keep, that is!) to the vet. He listened to the story, and agreed that updating rabies vaccination was a good thing. He asked, “You did not handle the bat, at all, did you?”

“Nope!”

“You certain?”

“Yep, damned certain.” Then I regaled him with ED nursing experience on this very topic, and my lack of enthusiasm for recreating it in my own household.

“Do you have the bat?”

“At an undisclosed location, yes.”

“Can you bring it to me, for testing?”

“Yep. See you in an hour!”

One hour later, he returned from his back office, and regaled me with his assessment of things. “It’s a good thing you sealed the end of the hose, because I found him, frozen, about halfway up the hose, as if he was trying to escape.”

The bat was sent off to whatever lab The Un-Named Flyover State employs for this sort of testing, and, shortly thereafter, Things Got Interesting.

I received an anxious phone call from TDW, on the office line (because I shut off my cell phone at work), relating the fact that she had been the recipient of NUMEROUS phone calls from the state Dept of Agriculture, the state Health Department, the Local Veterinary University, our county health department, and those were simply the ones that she had written down the number for.

All these folks were evidently quite concerned that our friend, The Bat, had turned out to be, indeed, rabid, and every one of these folks asked, multiple times, if we had had any sort of contact whatsoever with said bat. TDW had explained multiple times that, no, we had not touched the fracking thing in any way, and elaborated my clinical experience with folks who had not acted from that sort of plan.

That was all cool. What got her wound up, was one soul who had stated that her cat, the one that she had inherited when her father had died, would have to be euthanized and examined for rabies, because she, TDW, did not have vaccination records at hand for this cat.

TDW explained that this cat was NOT going to be euthanized. The caller then directed that the cat would have to be quarantined for six months (or some such). We could do that, keeping the cat indoors (no problem, she was an indoor cat in any event, not going outside at all).

Nope, said TDW’s correspondent, said cat would have to be quarantined at the vet’s office. That meant boarding the cat, for six months. Lessee: that’s six months, at, say, 30 days each, leading to 180 days of boarding. Boarding a cat costs $30/day in our neck of the woods, so that would mean spending (lessee: carry the ‘nought, ‘nought goes into ‘nought, square root of eleventeen…) !!5 thousand, four hundred dollars!!

Holy stool! I suggested to TDW that contacting the vet her father had frequented might be a pretty good idea, long about RIGHT FREAKING NOW!, and seeing if vaccination records could be forthcoming.

She got right on it.

The Patron Saint Of Inherited Cats smiled upon us, as not only did TDW find her dad’s vet, said vet had vaccination records, and said records included vaccination for (Ta-DA!) rabies. Our vet received the records, The Inherited Cat got updated rabies vaccination, and we all breathed a sigh of relief.

I subsequently called a Bat Guy, seeking extermination (er, I mean, REMOVAL!) of all bats from my domicile. When I explained the urgency of the query (ie, RABIES!), I was told that “bats never pass rabies from one to the other.”

Rreeeaaalllyyy? So, bats do not groom each other? (uh, they do) Leaving behind spit? (uh, how would they avoid doing so?) And, saliva does not carry the rabies virus? (uh, THAT would be how humans acquire rabies from bats, ya know! Bat saliva into an open wound of any sort.) Therefore, he wasn’t worried about it.

Nice. That would be one of us, not him, developing rabies.

So, nobody developed rabies, animal or human. No further bats have been seen hereabouts.

Yet.