Pieces of 8-Tracks for Music Pirates

Friday, November 19 2004

Last night I Learned Stuff. I always enjoy it when that happens, and especially when the things I learn are not textbook things. Medic show-me’s are always good, but People Lessons, such as those I got last night, are always appreciated.

Especially when those People Lessons are Me.

I do not think, especially, that (God, Ghod, Roscoe, “The Ceiling”) is necessarily providing lessons – methinks one gets ’em if attention’s paid, and a little thought and alternate perspective applied.

At OWL we’re issued pagers on which our call information is displayed – this helps gobs when you can’t hear the dispatcher properly. You can read the address from the text page, refer to it whenever you wish without seeming a fool on the radio (“Uh, Dispatch, what was that address again? I dropped my notebook…”)

We were dispatched at 02:30 in the morning to respond to a second-due area for “gum pain“. Somebody had a toothache and called 911. Go FRICKIN figure, I thought to myself. Once again, I was “lead” and would have to deal with… but here we were.

The medic (!) arrived thirty seconds ahead of us. They exited the house as I instructed one of my thirds to remain with the driver and help her move the vehicle off the unlit, curvy two-lane road. As my remaining third and I approached, our patient stumbled out of the home and collapsed onto the front porch. He was clutching what looked like a sweatshirt to his face and sobbing. The medics looked at me, I at them.

“Well, what’ve we got here?”.


“You guys want us to transport?”

Palpable relief. “Yeah – if you’re comfortable with it.”

Hmmm. Just thought of that – was this some sort of dig? Well, anyway, transport we did.

This is where A Lesson came in. Normally, one thinks: “Toothache. Okay, dude – either do not call 911 and use your personal vehicle; if you do not own or cannot drive a personal vehicle, a Friend will do nicely (there was an SO, Friend, or Other Person Type in the house, so that would have been an option). A Taxi can be Appointed For You. Especially at this hour!”.

I admit to thinking these sorts of things all the way from the bunkroom to the unit, once I’d read the page; all the way from the station to the scene; and while helping the patient from his home to my unit, too.

But then here’s my patient, who began to violently strike their own head with closed fist, such was the pain. Right then and there it occurred to me. Whoa, hang on here…

If you are a professional in EMS, you don’t give a damn about what the person was doing, or why, when they were injured – you treat ’em. I remember reading some time ago of an off-duty medic in Israel who was driving home, came on a sniper picking off people from a hilltop. He pulled his personal weapon, snuck up behind the sniper, and put a few rounds in him. Then ran back to his car, got his aid bag, and ran back to treat the guy…

I had here my patient. Did what I could, stopped bitching (it was never more than internally, but it was there) about whether the timing was convenient, about whether I thought the problem was too small to activate 911…

And you know, the receiving hospital knew the guy, a frequent flyer – but for some reason that didn’t bother me. I didn’t get the “Oh yea? Shit.” I believe I normally would have. I have no idea what, but Something clicked with this patient. Maybe beneath all the hoopla I sensed that what we really were transporting was some kind of psych… much more difficult to treat.

Anyway, I suppose I can add “No Job Too Small” to the logo on the bus.


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