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!

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Fun And Games Off Duty · Pre Planning Your Scene

My Youngest Son Gets Dunked (or) Why I Will Never Be Constipated

We were living in An Un-Named Bedroom Suburb of Cohoville, and discovered Road End Parks. This capitalizes upon the fact that the county/township right of way extends into the lake bed, and therefore, an area roughly 25-50 feet wide continued along the roadway into the lake, and belonged to the township/county. When you have some property that wide, you can park a couple of vehicles at “the curb”, and fence off maybe 50-75 feet of the easement, and you have a nice little parklet, which the fudgies are unlikely to know about. If your idea of summer fun does not run to drunken aquatic revelry, well, you are all set.

I was working nights at Erewhon Community Hospital (“Both Nowhere, AND Backwards!”), years and years ago. The Plaintiff, in her pre-Plaintiff days, worked days. Therefore, summer days provided an opportunity for me to Be The Dad, and bundle our brood off to the lake for fun and sun.

If you have read my tales of rollicking good times, you know that I have plenty of experience with The Prophet Murphy, and his laws. Having worked the street,  I  feel well prepared for minor childhood misfortunes. Before setting out on our beach trip, I had carefully checked the contents of my personal medic bag, placed a lifeguard style whistle on a lanyard around my neck, set my truck’s amateur radio to readily access the local 911 center (this was in pre-cell-phone days), and waited the usual complete hour after lunch.

Arriving at the beach, we reviewed the McFee Family Immediate Action Drills, carried picnic gear and loads of whatnot to the beach, and so began our casual, layback day of fun and sun in beautiful Northern Michigan. The big kids played in the water, keeping well within earshot, and the little boys had big fun scooping sand and splashing away.

This worked out alright, at first, as the older kids waded some distance out into the lake, and the little boys stayed within ten feet of the beach. I settled there, toes in the sand, camouflaged with a book that I really had no intention of even looking at. I even began to relax. BIG mistake.

The local lake, in Michigan’s Northern Lower Peninsula, is not really deep in any meaningful sense of the word for quite some distance out from the shore. I had assumed that, keeping eagle eyed watch from the beach, nothing could develop that I couldn’t handle. Two year old David, Number Three Son, was having Big Fun with his brothers and sister, navigating just fine in the knee deep (to him) water. Next thing I knew, a wavelet from a distant boat lapped at his knees, and he fell, face first, into the water.

He immediately came back up, only to go back, face first, into the lake.

Police officers who have been in exchanges of gunfire report that time slows way down in life or death situations. Boy, have they got that business right! One second, I’m fat, dumb, and happy, soaking up sun at the beach, the next second my two-year-old son is floating inert, face down in the lake. The second immediately following found me with my feet wet, almost before I became aware of Number One Son, 11 year old Adam, at arms length from David, calling “Dave? Dave? Dave?!?”

Adam knew this was not right, but had not yet sufficiently organized himself to act upon this insight. I directed him to “PICK DAVE UP!” all the while reviewing these sort of videotapes running in my head. First Edition, I would pick David from Adam’s hands, race to my truck, call the Paramedics (“Paramedics? I want a Freaking Helicopter!”) on my Ham radio, while beginning resuscitation of my youngest son there on my truck’s front seat. Second Edition, I would snatch David from Adam’s hands, begin resuscitation right there on the beach, call EMS from my handheld radio (“Where are the goddam first responders?”), while directing Adam to collect the other children, and send eight year old Beverly to retrieve my medic bag from my truck LIKE RIGHT FREAKING NOW!

That day, Adam excelled in Listening To and Following Directions (Thank you, Adam!). The “light bulb” went on over his head: he picked his little brother out of the water, and handed him to me after a few steps. The “videos” went on playing in my head, as I weighed the efficiency of each action alternative, and quickly evaluated improvements to each generation of The Plan. I sat Dave down next to me, back on the beach, and began to ask him “Dave, are you alright? Dave? Dave?…”

Once Adam had picked him up, Dave began to look around with this sort of “Whoa! Way Cool!” look on his face. After I had asked him if he was alright for the hundredth (well, okay: maybe only the seventh) time, he looked at me as if I had lost my mind, and said those magic words: “Yeah, Dad. I okay.”

Tapes stop. Breathe again. Tremble. Call in other children. Closer look at Dave. Realize that I will, never in life, require therapy for constipation. Acknowledge the Attentions of a Merciful God. Request no lapses, again, in His attention like unto that just completed.

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.

Fun And Games Off Duty · Life in Da City! · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact · Pre Planning Your Scene

The “Heimlich remover” in Song and Legend

 

So, TINS©, TIW(after)FDASL©, having been asleep for a couple of hours after another fun filled, exciting night of EMS in Da City. I was just about hitting my sleep stride, sleeping my ass off, when a commotion on my front porch awakened me.

I had bought a two flat in Da City, and lived in the downstairs apartment, renting out the upstairs to a fellow we can think of as The Clod. The Clod had roommates, who seemed unsavory. This appraisal developed as I noted one of these folks to have what we used to call, on the street, “lobster claws”. This alludes to the fact that IVDAs (pronounced as it is spelled, “iv-dahs”), or folks who spend their recreational time injecting street drugs intravenously, develop sclerosed veins, from the damage those veins sustain from the chemical irritation of the drugs, crappy needle technique, and repeated infections of the veins due to nonsterile injectate. It tuns out that the lymphatic circulation simply is not up to the task of returning all the fluid delivered by the uninjured arterial circulation, and so fluid collects in the downstream portions of the limbs, and the hands swell. When this process has advanced sufficiently, the hand(s) resemble the claws of a lobster, hence the appellation.

Now, some folks have stated their appraisal that my years on Da Streets have left their mark upon me. Indeed, my very own cherubic, innocent daughter, aged 20 something and mother of the sweetest, most wonderful children in North America, reports that I am “the most cynical human being that I have ever known.” (I can only hope so!) So, I had taken note of the fact that unusual sounds, seldom presaged Good Things in Da City. Therefore, awake, I put on some pants and a shirt, tucked a revolver into my pants, and laid my shotgun against the wall next to the door. Then, I peeked out the window to see what was transpiring.

My peek revealed an excited disturbance, featuring several folks unknown to me, and The Clod. I slowly opened my door, hand near revolver, and asked The Clod, “What’s happening?”

All a-twitter, he announced that “Luigi (not his real name) has swallowed a sandwich! Do you know the Heimlich Remover?”

Sheesh! The Heimlich Maneuver had been taught in every CPR class I have ever taken, since Desoto himself was in short pants and wondering why the pretty lights sparkled on top of the emergency truck. I moved closer, and noted that Luigi was coughing pretty vigorously, but, since he WAS coughing, it seemed pretty clear to me that he WAS moving air. This was not something I felt particularly enthusiastic about remedying, so I kept an eye on him, and asked, “has anybody called 911?”

I was dazzled from the glare of the metaphorical light bulbs illuminating over every head on that porch, all at once. The Clod noted that this was “A great idea!”, and bounded upstairs to make the call, leaving Luigi, and me, and Ghawd alone knows who else these bastards were, on the porch. Shortly after The Clod’s run up the stairs, Luigi stopped coughing, which I thought was Not Good. I asked Luigi if he could talk, to which he shook his head negatively. Not noticing any air moving in spite of his energetic attempts to do so, I elected to perform the Heimlich Maneuver.

He was sort of crouched over, which worked well for me. I reached around him, clasping my one fist in my other hand, and, planting the thumb of that fist into his stomach (just below the xyphoid, just above the umbilicus), I briskly lifted him off his knees, and settled him back down. I repeated this gesture several times until he coughed again, and produced a glob of half chewed sandwich about the size of my fist.

At this, he began to gasp and wheeze. The crowd started to thin out, as the sirens approached. Soon, it was The Clod, Luigi, and me left on the porch.

The responding EMS crew was a couple of guys I knew, and the one chatted with me while his partner checked Luigi, and obtained his signature refusing transport.

How long have you been working here?” I was asked.

What do you mean?” was my response.

Well, we all figured that this was some kind of adult foster care, because every time we drive past, there’s always a bunch of these guys hanging out. We figured that the residents had to get out of the house during the day.”

FML. Just what I wanted to hear.

 

Fun And Games Off Duty · Pre Planning Your Scene

The Electrician, The Waitress, and Making Snow Angels.

 

So, TINS, TIWFDASL…..OK, well, not so much. Long after I had left EMS in Da City, and was off FDASL in other climes, Da Darling Wife (before she had transformed herself into The Plaintiff) decided that family would take a trip, to Sault Sainte Marie, Ontario. In March.

For those who are unaware, Sault (pronounce it “Sue”) Sainte (abbreviated “Ste.”) Marie is just about as far north as you can go in the US, if you never visit Alaska. Winters are…remarkable. Typically, there are feet and feet of accumulated snowfall, and it gets mighty freaking cold, particularly if you are from, say Tennessee or that latitude, and your idea of “Oh! My! Ghawd! Cold! is, like, 35 degrees Fahrenheit (2 Celsius, for our European friends.) Yeah. In “The Soo”, as Michiganders call it, 35 degrees, in March, is nearly tee-shirt-and-shorts weather.

Our Canadian Friends and Neighbors have a railroad service, north (imagine that!) from Soo, Ontario, and it is called, surprisingly enough, “The Snow Train”. The Algoma Canyon Railway runs excursion trains during the winter, and travelers can admire winter beauty, clean running rivers and streams, and do so from the comfort of heated railway coaches.

At each end of every railway car, where it opens to a platform admitting one to the next car, is a sign, warning passengers that they are not to stand upon the platforms when the train is in motion. This seems particularly important at the last car, where the platform looks out on nothing but Nature. We were, all six of us, in the car that initially was right behind the locomotive.

The excursion arrives in Agawa Canyon, over a hundred miles north of Soo, Ontario, after something like 4 hours of travel. There, the locomotive switches ends, and, after a layover, begins the return trip. And, while the locomotive switches about, there is time to wander about the station and frolic in the snow.

So, there is a bar car, on this train. And, there were high spirited post adolescents aboard. Who had found the bar car.

Once the locomotive switch had happened, and the wandering-around-the-platform time had ended, everybody was summoned back to the train. We resumed our old seats, now at the rear of the train. Our kids admired the view from the platform, and returned. The post-adolescents likewise admired the view, and were still doing so when the train crew walked thorough, admonished the spectators to return to the carriage, and not return to the platform, and moved on.

Once the crew had departed, the youths returned to the platform. I gathered the children together, and motioned their mother closer. “Now, look through that door, at those geniuses, standing on the open platform of a soon to be moving train. What do you suppose is likely to happen when the train jerks into motion?”

13 year old Number One Son identified the problem promptly. “One or more of them are gonna topple over that low railing, into the snow or onto the track. That’ll leave them behind, and it’s kinda cold for walking back to The Soo, right?”

Their mother responded: “That, and/or somebody will smack their head, hard, onto the steel rails. Now, once the young geniuses are making snow angels, remember: I’m a waitress, and your dad is an electrician. Got it?”

The younger kids had not “got it”. One protested, “But, Mom, you’re a nurse, and Dad is a medic, right?”

“Not today, we aren’t. Remember, I’m a waitress, and Dad’s an electrician!”

The oldest boy, bless him, was quick on the uptake today. “Yeah, do you think mom and Dad want to mess around in the snow, treating people too stupid to follow directions, and who break their heads because of it? And, like, hundreds of miles from the nearest hospital? If Mom and Dad are busy doing that, who’s gonna watch us kids?”

Clever lad.

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)

Knives · Pre Planning Your Scene

Why do ER staff frisk patients? This is why!

TINS©. Once I had left Da City’s EMS, I was an Emergency Department nurse in , surprisingly, Da City. Now, this was in the depths of the then current round of the nursing shortage, and so (a) they put me in charge (BIG mistake!), and (b) we had rent a nurses working with us. You might imagine, folks who have spent their careers working in the hospital may not be entirely as cynical as I am, and so might have a different level of urgency regarding, say, frisking a patient, than I do. Remember that thought.

So, one soul, a frequent flyer at our department, was brought in by the local fire department. This municipality was entirely within the border of Da City, but had stand alone police and fire services. These firefighters also provided EMS for the community. This particular wintry evening, they brought us an intoxicated fellow, who wanted to misbehave. Prior to my arrival, the evening staff had placed this gentleman in a vest type restraint, and settled him into a corner with a couple of blankets, and an admonition to take a nap.

So, once things had pretty much cleared out, I figured that a walk through, and placing eyes on my charges might be useful, and so I set out.

As I cleared the curtains surrounding our friend (mistake number one), I noted that he was fiddling with his vest. Closer inspection revealed that he had secured a knife (frisk fail, mistake number two!), and appeared to be attempting to cut his way free, presumably thereafter to make his escape. Acting prior to thinking this all the way thorough (mistake number three!), I grasped the hand with the knife, and extended his arm over the top of the bed, bending it, and securing it, and the knife within, with both hands.

That gave him the opportunity to consider the advantages he might enjoy, by popping me in my face with his off hand. Having considered, he tried to act, and so there we were, me holding onto the knife hand with both of mine, bobbing and weaving to avoid punches directed, drunkenly, my way by our guest, and calling for assistance.

One of the agency nurses walked over to see what the fuss was about. She stood there, motionless, for a long moment, until I suggested, “Ya know, if you could get some security in here, right stat like, that would be wonderful!”

I shit you not: she pivoted in place, and bellowed, “Security Stat To The ER!”

Sheesh! I amended my suggestion. “That was very nice. Now, if you were to open that door over there, and go out in the hallway, where our friends from security actually are, and tried it all over again, it might be just a little more helpful!”

She did earn bonus points for “Listening to and following directions”. Shortly, our friends from security piled into the room, relieved Mr. GottaGo of his knife, replaced his restraint, and frisked him, thoroughly this time. I frisked him, myself, because, well, reasons. I found no surprises. This time.