An unknown problem at a house. Which begs the question: how does the caller not know why they are calling?


We pull up right in front of the engine, and we all make our way towards the door. We can hear the gurgling from outside.

Inside, we find a lady who is obviously in the throes of death, laying in a hospital bed. She has that open-mouth look that healthy people don’t have.

Someone who looks like she might be a nurse of some sort is anxiously standing in the shadows, clutching what looks like a home-health folder.

“What’s going on?”

“She has anemia” says a guy who looks like he could be her husband.

Meanwhile, this lady has one foot through the pearly gates.

The fire dudes are doing their thing, getting vitals, and trying to put in an OPA, which is complicated by her wide-open mouth.

“Okay. She has anemia. What is going on today? How long has she been this sick?”
“She has anemia. That’s what’s going on.”

Obviously, I’m getting nowhere. “Okay then, why is she in the hospital bed?”

“Because she has anemia.”

Newguy has now decided to sink a tube. This lady has almost no blood pressure, and her heart rate is in the forties.

“Does she have any other problems besides anemia?”

“I don’t know.”

I gave up.


  1. Flash Larry says:

    See, when you get a dispatch that is “unknown problem at a house,” it doesn’t necessarily mean that the caller doesn’t know what the problem is; it’s that the dispatcher doesn’t know what the problem is.

    After reading this, I can understand why.

    Possibly, they could have dispatched it as, “Patient has anemia,” but that wouldn’t have made you any happier.

    If you find me in such a condition, with a bunch of fools standing over me, just, you know, make me comfortable and let me go. Except, my wife is no such fool.

  2. I usually just take the folder away from them and find what I need. Problem is now our home health nurses have laptops intead of folders. They tend to miss those more.

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