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

Blazing Saddles and A Philosophy of Life

After another run on a person who was unhappy, yea, verily, unto such depths that he had an abundance of unhappiness to share with everybody in the community, us in particular, Doug was owning his frustration. That might have sounded like bitching and complaining about ungrateful, bitchy, asshole, ignorant layabouts who verbally abused those unfortunate to be trapped into serving them in any capacity whatsoever. But, of course, noble Saviors Of Lives, and Defeaters of Disease, such as Doug and myself, would never, ever, bitch, moan, complain, whine, grouse, pout, sulk, grumble, carp, kvetch, squawk or otherwise gripe about our lot. Oh, no! No, no, no! Not us!

Well, Doug was inspired tonight, and was waxing eloquent about the character deficiencies and general life failures afflicting our service population in general, and Medic 19’s area in particular.

After several minutes of admiring his eloquence, and noting the fact that he did not repeat one swear word, one time, he paused to draw a breath. I jumped in. “Ya know, you sound like you’re frustrated by folks.”

He agreed. “Yep. A more foul hive of scum and villiany, never has a medic unit covered!”

“Doug, I’m not sure you really have the proper perspective on our peeps, here.”

“What do you mean?”

I warmed up, channeling my inner Gene Wilder, as I consoled my metaphorical Cleavon Little partner. “Doug, you have expectations that simply are not going to be met. You have to understand these folks. These are the common sort, with the common touch. They are the folks who chose to move into this district, to drown their lives in drugs, alcohol, and a myriad of other bad life choices. They see themselves victimized by the choices that they make, again and again, every single day. It is as if they awaken each morning, draw in a breath of fresh, morning air, blink in the sunshine of a brand new day, and say, ‘I think I’ll fuck up my life, even more than I did yesterday! I’ll alienate everybody in my family, piss away every opportunity to take a different path, and ever more closely associate myself with other losers, in hopes that they will one day look at me, and sigh, ‘Damn! I wish my life was as fucked up and useless as that guy’s”.” I paused, taking in a breath. “You know, Doug, Morons!”

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Fun And Games Off Duty · Fun With Suits! · Life in Da City! · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact

PRE REQUISITE OF THE MONTH CLUB AT BHSU

As I had mentioned previously, I pursued, and earned, my BSN some time ago. Oddly enough, THAT is another occasion for one of my stories.

Living in Da Blue Hive, I elected to attend Blue Hive State University, here in The Un Named Flyover State. They had a nursing school, and, indeed, I, myself was a nurse! How convenient! In addition, I lived a mile or three away from the campus.

I therefore hied myself to the admissions office, applied, got accepted (with none of that “we don’t allow our nursing students to work” idiocy), and picked up a copy of the prerequisite courses for starting my journey to BSN-dom. Easy-peasy, I signed up for a class.

Having completed that class, I signed up for the next on my list, secure in the “knowledge” that I was making progress towards my goal. Then I attended some meeting or other that was required for prospective BSN students.

Once there, I picked up a copy (another copy, or so I thought) of the prerequisite list. Idly perusing it as the speaker droned on about whatever, I noticed a course on the required list, that I did not recall being on that list previously.

Once home, I dug out my old list, and compared the two. Yep, sure enough, the list had changed. Indeed, one of the classes that previously (like, 4 months prior) had been required, was now elective.

Fast forward a year, another two classes in my repertoire, and another “prospective nursing student meeting”. To my disappointment, there was ANOTHER evolution in the required list, and, indeed, one of the classes that had been required, that I had indeed taken and passed, was not on the list at all, any longer.

I made an appointment with the dean of the Nursing school. The secretary inquired as to the topic I wished to discuss with the dean. “Career counseling” was my reply. “I’m considering earning my BSN, and I want to discuss it with her, please.”

Okey-dokey, appointment made.

I showed up at the appointed hour, introduced myself, and made my opening conversational gambit. “Ma’am, I’m presently a medic with Da City’s EMS. I’m considering earning a BSN, or else earning a bachelor’s in chemistry. I’d like you to help me make that choice, please.”

“What sort of things are driving you to one election or the other”, she inquired.

“Well, ma’am, I enjoy science, and like knowing how stuff works. On the other hand, I enjoy health care, and seem to pretty well at it.”

She asked, again. “So, what drives you to chemistry as a major?”

“Well, ma’am, one of the attractors is that it appears that chemistry pre-requisite course list is static, in contrast to the seemingly dynamic, changing-every-semester nature of the nursing pre-requisite list.”

She pulled a catalog or something off a shelf, flipped through it, and mused. “It appears that we have changed our list a couple of times in the past couple of years. How is that a problem for you, Mr. McFee?”

“Well, this past week I learned that one class that I took last year, as a required course for entry, is no longer required. Now, I don’t really care one way or the other about your pre-requisite list. What would be very helpful would be a static required course list. Maybe something like, ‘Here’s our required list. If you start on this date, and complete the list by that date, you will be held to this list, right here, for entry to our program’. Because, to tell you the truth, the next time you folks change the pre-requisite list, I’m going to become a chemist.”

I sooner or later completed the required coursework, with satisfactory grades, and completed the program at Blue Hive State University, being awarded my BSN, and living happily ever after, fighting disease and saving lives.

And our school cheer was “Buzzzzz!” Even before marijuana legalization.

Fun And Games · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Life in Da City! · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact

The Fellow Who Would Not Go

A long, long time ago, in a Blue Hive not so very far from here (In truth, not nearly distant enough!), I was a nursing supervisor. This one time, TINS©, TIWFDASL©, and I received a phone call from one of my nursing floor charge nurses.

It developed that one of our physicians had written discharge orders for this one gentleman, let us refer to him as “Mr. Man”. Mr. Man was apparently of the opinion that our physician was mistaken, and that he, Mr. Man, was not sufficiently recovered to return to his home. I responded, spoke to the nurse, and then spoke to Mr. Man. He pretty much recreated the report that I had heard from the nurse, culminating in his ultimatum: “I’m not going anywhere, and you cannot make me!”

I phoned the physician and relayed my conversation. This doctor asked me a few questions, corroborating his assessment of the patient’s clinical circumstance. Having done so, he reiterated his plan of care: “Mr. Man does not meet the criteria from the insurance company, who is paying for his hospital stay, and they are not going to continue paying for his stay. He is discharged, I have written prescriptions, and arranged a post discharge office visit. If he has issues, we can discuss them at that visit.”

I relayed this to Mr. Man, and he again indicated his determination to remain. I returned to the nursing station, and invited my friend the security supervisor to show his smiling face, so that we could confer. My friend the security supervisor had no new input, although he sent a couple of officers to stand by the floor, in case Mr. Man decided that some interpretative dance, so to speak, would make his case more effectively.

Shortly, the med nurse was passing by, surprisingly enough, passing her afternoon meds. I stopped her. “Do you have any meds for Mr. Man?” She consulted he med book. “Yep, he has (whatever) due at 2 o’clock!”

“Hand it to me. I’ll take this one over from you.” I placed the meds securely in the med room, and returned to my chat with security. Sure enough, as I had expected, Mr. Man put on his call light, shortly after he noticed the med nurse pass by without stopping. I answered his light (security dawdled just down the hallway).

“Yes, Mr. Man, what can I do for you?”

“I am supposed to get (whatever) around this time. I just saw the nurse pass me by.”

“Why, yes you did, sir. You see, since the doctor has discharged you, you are no longer a patient here, you are now a visitor. It is not our practice to administer medications to visitors, and so the med nurse did not have any medications for you.”

“How am I supposed to get my meds?”

“Discharged patients usually obtain their medications from a pharmacy.”

“I bet you think you’re smart! You cannot make me leave! I’m staying right here!”

“Yes, sir, I understand what you are saying. Is there anything else?”

“No. Go away!”

With a smile, I departed. A couple of hours later, supper time arrived. I removed Mr. Man’s tray, and sent it back to dietary, with the admonition that he had received orders for discharge, a therefore would not require meal service. Indeed, shortly he noticed the aides passing supper trays, and, again, he engaged the call light. Again, I responded.

“Mr. Man, what can I do for you?”

“You could serve me my supper tray!”

“Oh, sir, I’m sorry! We do not feed visitors. You have been discharged, and therefore are present here as a visitor.”

“How am I supposed to get something to eat?”

“A lot of people find that a grocery store is helpful in this regard. Other folks find restaurants to be more to their liking.”

Again, I was dismissed.

In our facility at that time, visiting ended at 2000 hours. Our switchboard operator announced this fact, and bade all visitors a good evening. I popped my head into Mr. Man’s room, and reinforced this message. Security, this time in the person of the security supervisor, accompanied me.

“Sir, you will have to leave soon.”

“I dare you to throw me out!”

Security responded. “Sir, our usual practice is to ask folks to leave. Those who do not depart, are trespassing, and we ask Da City Police Department to handle that. I imagine the responding officers will ID such a person, run a LEIN check, and either walk that person out, or, if somebody were to have outstanding warrants, arrest that person, and lodge them in jail”

Mr. Man again indicated that our audience with him had come to a conclusion.

Outside the room, we heard one sided conversations as of telephone calls, and, from what we could discern, seeking transportation. Again, shortly, we were summoned by the call light. Mr. Security and I responded, and I (again) asked, “Mr. Man, what can I do for you?”

“I don’t have my prescriptions, and my ride will be here in a couple of minutes.”

“Yes, sir, I’ll get right on that!”

I secured his prescriptions and discharge instructions, and Mr. Security and I returned to the room, where I delivered the instructions and prescription, and then the security supervisor and I wheeled Mr. Man to the door, where he sprang from the wheelchair, entered a vehicle, and exited our lives. Whew!

Fun And Games Off Duty · Gratitude · Life in Da City! · Sometimes You Get to Think That You Have Accomplished Something!

Splinting a Cat, And the Lesson I Learned….(Not What I Had Expected!)

A long, long time ago, in a Blue Hive not so very far from here, I was a street medic for Da City. (Gasp, NO! Say it isn’t so! I…I..never suspected!) I was working nights, attending nursing school days, and attempting ti triage my weekends between school projects, studying, sleep, and having a social life. Oh, yes. AND working.

So, TINS©, TIWFDASL©, and, having concluded a rollicking night of same, I entered my apartment. The building in which I lived had been built circa 1910, and had seen sporadic maintenance since then. This is particularly relevant given that I observed my cat, imaginatively named Mr. Cat, seated at my front window.

It was summer, and I had left my windows cracked. My cats had taken to lounging in the window, both to take in the scenery as well as to bask in an intermittent breeze. This was OK, until in one particular window, in which Mr. Cat had been loafing, the sash cord, which held the window open, failed, sending the window crashing closed.

Mr. Car’s “catlike reflexes” were sufficient to enable him to avoid being entirely trapped by the weight of the closed window, but he wasn’t quick enough to entirely extricate himself. His one front paw was held as if in a bear trap, and he greeted me with a look as if to say, “I say, old man, could you assist me? I appear to be stuck, and it is becoming tiresome.”

The cat-length semicircle of destruction spoke to his efforts to resolve his problem on his own.

I opened the window, and he promptly removed it, and began to clean his paw, as if dust were the only problem. When I observed that he did not appear to want to walk on it, I corralled him, sat down, and began my secondary survey.

I could not palpate any discontinuity in his bones in the affected paw, but he was very reluctant to have me confirm that appraisal with a repeat examination. His breath sounds were clear, and his heart sounds were rapid, but regular with no murmur. (Of course, how much “rapid” was kitty baseline, versus pain versus irritated cat, was difficult to discern.)

He continued to limp, and so I gathered up materiel, and set to fabricating The McFee Cat Splint. I cut out cardboard from a box, wrapped it about the injured limb, and secured it (or so I had thought) with roller gauze.

He, unimpressed, shook his injured limb until the splint went that-away, and he went this-away, and he limped off. Sigh.

I re-corralled him, and we wrestled him into The McFee Cat Splint Mark II. This version featured several wraps about his torso, so as to slow the shake-this-thing-into-next-week response that he demonstrated once I had released him. Good news? It did not head off into a far corner. Bad news? Well, howzabout YOU attempt to explain the concept of “no weight bearing” to a cat, and let me know how well that works?

Sigh.

So, we collaborated (for certain values of “collaborated”, particularly if those include one handedly immobilizing a non-compliant cat, placing a New! Improved! McFee Cat Splint Mark III upon said cat, and then, again, single handedly, securing same upon the same non-compliant cat) in splinting his foreleg, again. This version extended beyond his paw, so that, crutch like, the weight that he would usually place upon this paw was transferred to his chest wall/”armpit”.

Kinda like rodeo, without the clowns. Unless you included me, that is.

I began to put my crap away for the morning, but he persisted in not bearing weight upon the formerly trapped paw, and I soon determined that it was time for an assessment by someone who knew their way around a cat. Against Mr. Cat’s protestations, off we went to the veterinarian.

I had not, in all the excitement, changed out of my EMS uniform that morning. So, there I was, once I had registered Mr. Cat, and requested a “walk in” visit (“Be patient, no telling when a slot will open up.”), seated in one of the chairs, cat in lap, uniformed, sleepy (although, that was kind of my ground state in those days), next to a grandmotherly Black woman at the vet.

She asked me what had happened to my cat, noticing the splint he still wore, and (score!) pretty much as I had designed it. I told her the tale, truncated a bit for the waiting room retelling, and she made sympathetic noises. We conversed a bit about pets, and how they fare in our absences, and so forth, passing the time.

Her name was called, and she looked at me, and at the vet tech summoning her, and then she performed a no shit act of Christian charity. She said, “His kitty has been injured, please take him before me, I can wait a bit longer”.

If you have read more than a couple of my posts, you likely realize that I am generally a cynical bastard, a curmudgeon. I commonly have low expectations of people, and they commonly fail to meet them. This tale took place something on the order of forty years ago, and, retelling it now, I am tearing up. This woman, who I had never met, showed herself to be more giving, more compassionate, than I was. She showed me that individuals can be beacons of community, of respect, of sympathy, for folks that do not look like them. She took pity on a white guy, and his cat, because she could.

Because she was capable of empathizing with another, not of her “tribe”. And, being capable, did so.

My cat recovered from what the doctor determined to be a sprain, and lived a long and (cat) happy life.

I moved out of Da City, married, got divorced, remarried, watched my children grow, and have families of their own.

And, today, I offered a prayer on behalf of that woman, my neighbor-in-fact, who bathed me in her compassion, and for whom, today, I cried.

Ma’am, thank you for that lesson.

Fun And Games · guns · Life in Da City!

“Doc, am I gonna die?”

 

So, TINS©, TIWFDASL©, and we caught a run for a shooting. Being full of excitement, because, gosh, THIS was an opportunity to, ya know, SAVE A LIFE!, we coded our happy way to the scene, there to meet the police. They pointed out the named patient, who, to our surprise, was NOT hovering at death’s door. Rather, he had sustained a small caliber gsw to his lower leg, had intact pulses downstream of his injury, and no evident bony injury. We walked him to the rig, buckled everybody in, and set out for TSBTCIDC.

We had dressed and bandaged his wound, and I was busily documenting same, along with the vitals we had obtained, when he asked me a question.

“Doc, am I gonna die?”

I looked at him, and shook my head no.

“Doc, really, am I gonna die?”

Sighing, I tucked my pen away, and addressed him. “No, you are not gonna die from this wound. You may not even be admitted to the hospital overnight.”

Hearing no further inquiry, I turned, again, to my charting. But, it was not to be.

“Doc, really, I can handle it. Am I gonna die?”

Some people, and one track minds. “Sir, you are not gonna die today, and not from that wound. Really, I’ve seen hundreds of shootings, and your injury is in no way life threatening. Okay?”

He nodded, as if in understanding. I (attempted to) return to my charting.

Shortly, he spake again. “Doc, really, I can handle it. Tell it to me straight, Doc. Am I gonna die?”

I was about over the “Doc” idiocy. “Sir, I’m not a physician, I’m a medic. And, do you really think you can handle the truth?”

“Yeah, I can handle it! Give it to me straight?”

“You sure you can handle the hard, icy, no bullshit truth? Because, if you are really, really sure, I’ll tell it to you straight! No punches pulled, no bullshit, no evasions. Is that really what you are looking for?”

“Yeah, Doc! Tell me the real deal!”

(Ah, well, it appeared that ‘listening to and following directions” was not at the very forefront of my friend’s skill set.) I rubbed my forehead, as if confronting some weighty ethical dilemma. I looked skyward, as if seeking Divine Guidance. I gazed at him, and delivered my response.

“Ok, if you’re sure you can handle it, here’s the real deal! You are not going to die! Do you know why, you are not going to die?”

“No, Doc, why?”

“Because you are not going to live that long!”

The rest of the trip was in blessed silence, as he endeavored to make sense of my revelation.

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 · 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 · 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.