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.

Fun With Suits! · Life in Da City! · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact

Accident Letter

So, TINS, TIWFDASL, and responding to some sort of emergency or other. It was my day to drive, and I was merrily coding along. Approaching The Major North Bound Thoroughfare as I headed west bound, light and siren flashing and a-wailing, I slowed and observed cross traffic (who had the green light), stop on the rain slicked street.

That appeared encouraging. I began to accelerate through the intersection, when, lo and behold!, I beheld a driver swing into the center lane, pass all the stopped traffic, and proceed to strike the ambulance aft of the driver side dual rear wheels.

He had built up to fair clip, because he rocked the modular ambulance pretty good. Indeed, given my own momentum, the aft of the rig slewed to the right, and we entered a skid.

I corrected, steering into the skid, and noted in passing a pedestrian on the northwest corner determine that he did NOT want to remain standing where it appeared I was going to roll over, and so he started stepping lively toward the south.

Remember that “I corrected my skid” thing? Yeah, about that. It turns out that correcting a skid, in a, oh, let’s guess 5 ton truck, is not a fact, it is a process. So, when I had corrected our slewing-sideways-towards-the-northeast skid, we NOW had a slewing-sideways-towards-the-west-southwest skid. Less off axis, so there was that as an improvement, but our friend the pedestrian (remember him?), last seen high stepping to the south, did not think much of this as it portended his own immediate future. He demonstrated this understanding, as well as outstanding situational awareness, as he skidded to his own stop, about faced, and accelerated north.

I had noticed that we were skidding kinda sideways, in a west-southwesterly direction, and so, once again, I corrected, steering into the skid. Once that had been accomplished, we were merely proceeding catty-wampus, in a more or less northwesterly direction, and, it appeared, tracking our poor increasingly frazzled pedestrian friend as if we were a pedestrian seeking missile. With target lock.

Fortunately on several levels, all these gyrations had bled off considerable speed, and I was able to come to a complete, and rather abrupt, stop, short of squashing the pedestrian.

My partners were uninjured, as we had vicariously experienced many, many motor vehicle collisions, and had scant desire to recreate the experimental results we had witnessed. We were all buckled up.

While I was attempting to determine if my SVT (supraventricular tachycardia: an accelerated heart rate running around 150-200 beats per minute) was self limiting, or my new normal, Doug figured that (a) we were not completing this run, and (b) this might be a nice thing to share with dispatch. He did so.

We checked the other driver (who was fine), and awaited the police, city wrecker, and the inevitable chat with The Lieutenant. Fun times ahead, indeed.

The officer taking the report only had about 7,000 questions, and, once he was done, dropped us off at apparatus. There, we got to switch from our rig, into a back up rig. Back up rigs were too rickety to be in front line service, but not so obviously rattletraps that they could not serve as interim ambulances until our rig was repaired. Which in our case was likely to be sometime around the heat death of the universe.

We returned to quarters (with Doug driving!), where we awaited Lt. Evans. Once he had arrived, he directed me to write a letter (standard practice) detailing the events that had led up to our nice new truck getting bent up.

At this point I was the union’s chief steward, and was familiar with the contract. One of the provisions thereof was that any member, facing potential discipline, had the right to consult with a steward prior to making any official statement. I figured that, hashing this out with another steward might allow me to avoid talking myself into (harsher) charges (than I already faced for the collision).

Another peculiarity of Da City’s system, was that it appeared that the algorithm for assessing fault ran as follows. (each yes answer advanced you one more round) “Were you driving?” (Y/N) “Were you driving a city vehicle?” (Y/N) “Was that vehicle involved in a collision of any sort?” (Y/N)

“GUILTY! GUILTY! GUILTY!”

No shit: on one call, I had parked the ambulance in the street, four way flashers flashing, beacons in operation, I and my partner were IN THE REAR OF THE AMBULANCE, when some jackhole decided that, as IMPORTANT as he obviously was, he could not wait for us to roll off, and had to depart NOW! In the course of snaking his way out of the parking spot right next to us, he nudged the ambulance bumper, causing the vehicle to rock on it’s springs.

Like a dummy, I reported it. To my astonishment, it took the Accident Review Board SIX FREAKING WEEKS to ascertain that I was NOT at fault.

So, with these lessons in mind, I was reluctant to make any sort of official statement without at least having another steward tell me I was doing it wrong. I said so the Lt. Evans, and said, “So, sir, I officially request that I be allowed to speak with a steward prior to making an official statement, as guaranteed in our contract.”

He gave me the stink eye. “You’re the chief steward, right?”

“Yes, sir.”

“So, go chat with yourself , and write my damned letter. Now would be good.”

“Uh, sir…?” I began.

“Mr. McFee, I am making that an order. Do so, at once!”

“Yes, sir!”

I therefore drew up a piece of Fire Department letterhead, and composed the following letter:

“TO: Superintendent of EMS

From: Reltney McFee, EMT

Subject: Collision involving Medic 23 this date

Date (date)

Sir: Lt. Evans ordered me to write a letter regarding Medic 23’s collision this date. I requested the opportunity to speak with a union steward prior to making any official statement, and Lt. Evans ordered me to write you a letter at once.

This is that letter.


Respectfully, Reltney McFee EMT, Medic 23”

I pulled it out of the typewriter, placed my carbon copy in the desk, and handed it to Lt. Evans. “Here’s your letter, Lieutenant!”

He looked at it for a minute, and glared at me. “McFee, this is unsatisfactory. Write this letter, all over again, and this time do it right!”

“Yes, sir!”

I assembled another set of letterhead and carbon paper, and captioned the next letter as before.

My opening line was as above. I asked the Lieutenant, “Sir? What do you want me to write now?”

He said, “McFee, I’m not going to tell you what to write!”

I typed in, “Lt Evans told me to write, “ ‘McFee, I’m not going to tell you what to write!’ “

“What’s next, sir?”

“Goddammit! Stop that! Just write what happened in your accident!”

My next line of text was, “ ‘Goddammit! Stop that! Just write what happened in your accident!’ “

“Yes, sir? What is next?”

He glared at me. Again. “McFee, get up from that chair. Do not type another word!”

I stood. He asked me, “McFee, what do you think you are doing.”

“Well, sir, you ordered me to write a letter about an accident prior to my having the opportunity to speak to a steward about a matter that might result in my being disciplined. I complied with that order, and wrote a letter citing everything that I was willing to say at this moment. You did not find that satisfactory, and ordered me to re do it. I was rewriting it to your specification, when you abruptly stopped providing me directions. Sir.”

Again, with the glare. “It is now 1300 hours. You will have that letter, and I mean the letter that you KNOW you have to write, in my hands no later than 1700 hours today, without fail! Am I making my self clear?”

“Perfectly, sir!”

He stormed out.

I got his letter to him, after a phone consult with another steward.

Oh, yes, And I got a written reprimand for my role in the collision.

Fun And Games · Life in Da City!

Suburban Community Hospital (or) Be Careful What You Ask For!

Another time, with dispatch whimsically sending us on a scavenger hunt all over Da East Side of Da City, we had occasion to transport sumdood to Suburban Community Hospital. This was a fairly sizable establishment, even by the standards of the day, and the ED was pretty busy upon our arrival.

We handed Mr. Dood over to the nurses, gave report, and began to prep the cot for the next lucky contestant. One of the nurses ambled over, and engaged us in conversation.

“How come you guys only bring us drunks? We can handle anything TBTCIDC can handle!”

Doug spoke up. “Uh, Ma’am? That’s kind of the majority of what we bring to TBTCIDC, ya know? Most of our runs are sick folks and drunk folks.”

She wasn’t gonna let this go. “Aw, c’mon! How come we never get any good trauma! I know you guys take all the trauma to TBTCIDC! Howzabout occasionally bringing us some of the stuff you always are taking to TBTCIDC?”

We mumbled something that maybe could have been taken as assent, and she meandered off to fight disease and save lives, or something.

As Kharma sometimes deigns, our next run was not too far from Suburban Community Hospital. Indeed, the Grin of Kharma must have been epically large, as the next call was for a very drunk, very loud, very combative inebriate.

Once we had him restrained and in the truck, we conferred. Consensus was, we were about to return to Suburban Community Hospital. After all, they had ASSURED us that they could handle ANYTHING that TBTCIDC could handle.

Well, to paraphrase Bill Engvall, “Heeerrreee’s yer patient!”

When the nurses began to chastise us about our patient selection, as well as our destination selection, our refrain was, “Well, you told us that you were perfectly capable of handling anything TBTCIDC could handle! This fine young man, right here, is completely typical of their patient population!”

And, then we scurried away……

Sometimes You Get to Think That You Have Accomplished Something!

Crash of a Small Plane

So, TINS©, TIWFDASL©, working a mid city house, “Power Shift” (1400 to 0200) with Doug and Ed. It was one of those shifts wherein dispatch seemed to feel compelled to send us on a magical tour of Da City. We transported folks to hospitals that I had never expected to see in person. East side, west side, all around the town, as the song goes.

So, we were SNR’d on our latest run (SNR= Service Not Required. In this case, because the nominal sick person wanted no part of going to the hospital, and was only too happy to sign the waiver and bid us goodbye.) Since we had been out to the east side of nowhere that shift, well, I figured the Patron Saint(s) of EMS wanted us to head east.

There we were, motoring northwest along Alternate Main Drag Road, when Ed, looking out my window, saw a column of smoke. I wheeled north on Major Northbound Roadway, and, paralleling the airport, radioed in to dispatch, inquiring if there had been a report of a working fire in our vicinity.

Nope, they hadn’t heard a word.

Being inquisitive sorts, we continued northbound, until, coming to the roadway that formed the northern perimeter of the airport, we turned west, since the column of smoke was indeed to our west.

We found it, two blocks over, and turned onto the street in question. I pulled up in front of the house next door to the involved structure, thinking that our friends the firefighters might feel the need to place their engines adjacent to the burning structure. I noticed a light airplane sticking out of the roof of the burning structure, and supposed that the two were related.

I had no idea of what street we were on, so I called to the civilians milling about, asking for the name. They provided it to me. Then, I paused. I could see the house number of the house I had parked in front of, but had no idea of the house number of the involved structure.

Yeah, you’re right. After 2-3 seconds of reflection, it struck me that, if I could identify the burning house from my location, the highly trained, very experienced, thoroughly professional firefighters likely could replicate my feat of high level cerebral functioning.

I radioed in to dispatch, “Medic (number) on scene of a fully involved house, aircraft crash, casualties noted in the yard. Please send fire and additional ambulances.”

Then I unassed the rig. Ed had already pulled one fellow, laying in the driveway between the involved structure and the neighboring one, around the uninvolved structure and out of the radiant heat pouring from the fire. Doug was just getting to the other patient on the ground, and we pulled him, also, into the lee of the neighboring house and into their fenced in yard.

Once relatively safe, we conferred: Ed wanted a couple of backboards so we could rapidly splint these guys and get the hell out of dodge. I hopped the fence, grabbed the requisite materiel, and tossed it over the fence.

Doug and Ed rapidly backboarded the one guy, set the head of the board on the fence, and then one of them hopped the fence, he and I finished the lift, and trotted him to the rig.

We returned, helped Doug complete boarding the second guy, and back to the truck we went.

Once both were strapped into the ambulance, we were off. Coincidentally, the first engines were about set up and beginning to flow water as we departed.

I do not remember the run to TBTCIDC. I DO remembergiving report, and the smoke smell we tried to clean out of the ambulance.

Funny thing. A couple of months later, I was visiting my brother in Alexandria, VA. Since he was working, I played tourist during the day. Now, this was 1983, around a year after the plane crashed into the 14th street bridge. The very bridge I had to cross into DC. As The Fates would have it, an aircraft– a big passenger jet– was landing as I was crossing the bridge. I don’t want to say it was close, but….I could count the rivets on the bottom, as it passed over my head.

Yeah, I didn’t break out in a cold sweat, or anything. Except, I did.

Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Life in Da City! · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact · Pre Planning Your Scene

MAST Trousers

A long, long time ago, in a galaxy not so far away….no, wait. That is not quite right.

So, TINS©, TIWFDASL©, with my partner Doug, and we caught a run for a stabbing. This was a bit out of the ordinary, inasmuch as the preferred mode of interpersonal interaction (based exclusively upon my skewed sample of EMS patients in Da City) was labeled as “a GSW”, or less cryptically, “a shooting”.

In any event, we arrived to find a gentleman who was talking, kinda sweaty, but able to tell us the chain of events that led to our meeting, along with niceties such as his allergies, medications, and previous medical history. Oh, yes: with a solitary stab wound in his chest, just left of center, and around 4-6 cm removed from his sternal margin. (Yep, that means just what you suspect that it means).

We packed him up, after Doug, thinking ahead, had laid out the MAST trousers on the cot.

So, back in the mists of time, shortly after the demise of the horse drawn ambulance (I kid! I kid!), there was this tool, based upon the fighter pilot’s “G Suit”, called the Medical Ant Shock Trousers, or MAST Trousers (Yep, that does, indeed, stand for “Medical Anti Shock Trousers Trousers”. Go figure.) The principle was thought to be that, when you inflated bladders in the legs, and overlying the lower abdomen, you would increase venous resistance, and thereby minimize the amount of blood remaining in the lower extremities, and thereby increase venous blood return to the heart. Since that would increase pre load, and preload is one component of cardiac output, the thinking was that, if we could increase preload, we could increase cardiac output, and that would increase blood pressure. Generally, within certain limits, increased blood pressure in a trauma/shocky patient is held to be A Good Thing.

We were coding merrily along to TTBTCIDC (For those of you keeping score at home, that would be “The Third Best Trauma Center In Da City”). Mr Stabee and I were having a lovely conversation, after a fashion, until he got really quiet. Concerned, I checked his pulse and breathing, finding a considerably weaker, and faster, pulse than previously, along with diminished rate of respirations.

I hollered to Doug that our new friend was circling the drain, and both more alacrity on his part, as well as a heads up to the receiving facility might be really appreciated.

I wrapped him (the patient, not Doug) up in the MAST trousers, and inflated the bladders. Now, we had a protocol of inflating the bladders to pressure “X”, re- assessing the patient, and then either holding there, or adding more pressure. In the spirit of Spinal Tap’s Derek Smalls, I bypassed the intermediate steps, and inflated the bladders, metaphorically, to 11.

To my surprise, out stabbee awakened, and began to converse, asking “What happened?”I obtained a new set of vitals, and wrote them down, as we stopped at TTBTCIDC.

We trotted our friend to the trauma room, and, as I wheeled the cot out of the room, I heard the physician order, “Take those things off of him, now!”

I started to offer our valves and suchlike, in order to wean the pressure off of the bladders, rather than precipitously deflating them, but the sound of ripping velcro was my reply.

Shortly afterward, the code was called, and everybody who had not crowded into the room, now entered.

Before we were done cleaning up the truck and restocking our medic bag, the code had been called. Unsuccessfully.

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

“Hey, look! I’m fine!”

Winter in Da City is a special time. The snow, late enough in the season, covers up the litter in the gutters, the layabouts tend to lay about indoors, and generally you can almost convince yourself, if you squint just so, that there is hope for, and in, Da City.

And, then you meet people. Kind of an occupational hazard of being a medic for Da City’ fire department. Most of us held to the TRUTH! Of the aphorism that “sick people suck”. Daily (or nightly- kinda depends on your shift, amirite?) we encountered folks who, well, sucked. Both as people, and at life. Because, after all, the lottery winners infrequently phoned 911 to regale our dispatchers with tales of wonderfulness. Face it: nobody calls the fire department, to gush about he/she just now met The Love Of Their Life, and how this soul brought sunshine into their every day.

So, with that thought in mind, TINS©, TIWFDASL© one lovely wintry afternoon and we (Doug and I) caught a run for a man with a broken leg. Arriving on the scene, we noted the usual choreography of the “He’s In Here!” dance, oh so very popular in Da City.

We entered to find a gentleman on the sofa, ethanol fumes emanating from his every pore. One of the (more) sober bystanders informed us that our guest had fallen while shoveling snow, and broken his leg. I turned to the named patient, and he obligingly illustrated the point by waving his (no shit, notable from across the room, articulated in an unnatural spot between his knee and ankle) leg in the air, declaiming, “Hey! Look! I’m fine! There’s nothing wrong!”

As you may have already surmised, he likely had already been well anesthetized. Then, there was the question: if he broke the shit out of his leg, as he manifestly had, how, and why, had he made his way into the house? And, what parts of this tale remained untold?

I attempted to orient him to current events. “Uh, sir? It sure appears like you have broken your leg. We would very much like to take you to the hospital, to get that fixed up for you!”

“Naw, I’m fine!” was the reply, accompanied by more broke-the-shit-out-of-it leg waggling.

The citizens on the scene were ever so helpful. Or, not so much. They contributed, “He broke his laig! Y’all cain’t leab him here!”

Thank you, Dr. Schweitzer, for your orthopedic consultation. Certainly gonna have to factor that into our clinical decision making!

I looked at Doug, and he looked at me. He handed me the handie talkie, and went to the ambulance to retrieve the cot and assorted helpful goodies. I attempted to elicit something along the lines of allergies, medication and medical history information, figuring that sort of information would be kind of mission critical to our friends in anesthesia. I was certain that a tour of the OR in the presence of the orthopedist was in his future. Oh, and vitals. Vitals would be nice.

Once Doug returned, and I noticed that he had preplanned the upcoming goat rope, including a long backboard, backboard straps, and plenty of roller gauze.

We approached out new friend, and pinned him to the sofa. Doug bandaged his arms…yeah, THAT’S the ticket! Bandaged, not restrained! Once he was hindered from “lending a hand” to the festivities, well, we rolled him onto the spine board, secured him with straps, and, laying a nice wide rigid splint between his legs, secured bandaged them as well.

The foregoing accomplished a couple of things. First, he quit flapping that grotesquely fractured leg around. Secondly, he was a considerably more stable package to carry out to the rig. Finally, all the citizenry was placated by how thoroughly their friend had been splinted. Everybody won!

Once we arrived at TSBTCIDC, and debussed Mr. Leg Fracture, well, the nursing staff couldn’t help but unsecure him, since they simply HAD to evaluate the fracture. That set off an entirely new round of protestations that he, the patient, “was just fine!”, accompanied, again, with the semaphore wig-wagging of the demonstrably unfine fractured leg.

Cool story. I finished my trip sheet, and completed and signed a “Petition for Involuntary Hospitalization”, citing my new friend’s manifest unconcern for a clearly broken leg, documenting his inability to comprehend his need for hospitalization.

All in a day’s work!

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

The Leviathian Comes Alive!

So, one time we got dispatched to an unconscious person run on the east side. We arrived to see a number of police officers from DBCPD standing around. One of them pointed out a large slumped soul, leaning up on the steps on a rear stairway of some house.

He was not entirely flaccid, and he WAS breathing on his own, both desirable attributes from my point of view. Even so, leaving him to metabolize towards mobility appeared to be a bad plan, so Porthos and I attempted a hold-him-under-his-arms walking assist. It worked, sort of. Well, it appeared to be working well enough that we could maneuver him to the truck, and thence to TBTCIDC, where he could indeed metabolize to freedom, under the loving and watchful eyes of the TBTCIDC Emergency Department nursing staff. For bonus points, he would then not be our problem.

Porthos and I were making progress, of a sort, toward the ambulance, and the police were doing their police type stuff, when I got the bright idea that perhaps a whiff of an ammonia capsule might energize our guest.

Now, with the wisdom that comes with hindsight, THAT might have a good idea to, ya know, DISCUSS with my partner. That discussion might have elicited several beneficial outcomes, like problem solving IN ADVANCE, and anticipation of ways in which this brainstorm of mine might have turned horribly wrong, for example.

As might have become evident, I did NOT discuss this little plan of mine with my partner, and simply retrieved an ammonia cap from my pocket, snapped it, and allowed Mr. Leviathan to breathe deeply of the healing aroma.

He abruptly, and I mean RIGHT FUCKING NOW! Became considerably less stumbling, and way, way more energetic, shaking loose of my grasp on his arm, and turning on my partner.

This might be a good point in my tale to note that our guest was tall, and big, and outweighed me, as well as Porthos, by a considerable margin. If he should commence to some wrasslin’, well, whichever one of us was the object of his affections, would not enjoy being so objectified.

Porthos had noticed our guest’s reanimation, although he was a fraction of a second slower than I in so noticing, and so King King, our newly energized patient, was advancing upon my partner, hands outstretched, and backing Porthos rapidly into a corner.

I realize that things happen quickly, and it appears that time stands still, nevertheless those officers sure appeared to be statues, while this shambling wreck of a man-mountain was advancing, cornering my partner, presenting a clear and present danger of laying hands on him.

I found my Mag Light in my hand, and advanced, on my toes, behind him. My flash plan was, once he had indeed grabbed Porthos, well, I was going to go for that line drive, featuring his head as the baseball.

So, Ninja like, I was advancing upon Leviathan, Leviathan was advancing on Porthos, the cops were unmoving, and I, catlike, managed to step on his foot.

Good news: he forgot about Porthos.

Bad news: he figured that I was oh, so very much more deserving of his attention than my partner. He began to turn on me, so as to show me some love. Of some sort.

Good news: whatever was the source of his previous lethargy, it slowed his synapses, and so the insight that he would rather be thumping on me, rather than Porthos, took him a not inconsequential amount of time to process, and then to act upon.

Good news: Porthos took that opportunity to zig to Mr. Leviathan’s zag, and begin to beat feet to the truck.

Good news: I accelerated to warp speed promptly, and so managed to arrive at the ambulance about the same time as Porthos.

Good news: our officer friends were, themselves, in motion, and they converged on Mr Leviathan, and dissuaded him from pursuing any further laying-on-of-hands ceremonies.

Indeed, they were so persuasive, that they elected to transport our new friend to TBTCIDC, themselves.

Porthos and I had, well, I suppose you might consider it “a teaching moment” once we were back in service. My ears stopped burning after a couple of hours.