“Hey guys, whatchagot?”

“Ah, hey, man. Looks like a whiteout.”

“Alright. Simple enough.”

“Numbnuts is over there starting an IV, we’re about to hang a bag of D10.”


“She, uh, fifty-two. Takes insulin. Took it last night, but didn’t eat. Husband says she won’t wake up. He’s in the kitchen making her a sandwich and getting a beer.”

“At five in the morning? Classy.”

“Yeah, man. You know the territory.”

“Yup. Vitals good?”

“Oh, yeah. Better than mine.”

“Sweet. What was her sugar?”





“Yeah, man, seven.”

“Interesting. Our glucometers don’t read lower than thirty. Thought we had the same ones.”

“Yeah, we do.”


“Here. Check it out. Hit that button right there to recall the last one.”




“You had it upside-down. That says ‘LO’.”

“Nah, man, it says ‘zero-seven.”

“Turn it around.”


“Son of a bitch…”


Some gal had a seizure at a bagel shop. Which is too bad, because we are hungry and it’s generally frowned upon to buy breakfast while a patient is having a medical emergency.

Of course, there’s no shortage of unhelpful bystanders on cell phones, and for some reason, the fire guys are wearing their turnout gear.

There’s too many people crowded around this college-age looking gal lying on the floor, so I’m hanging in the back. I guess the stripes on my sleeves make me look important, as another lady who appears about the same age, and shoves a phone in my face and tells me her father is on the phone.

“Yes, hello? This is C with the ambulance. How can I help?”

“Hi, this is Dr. Duckman. I’m her father. Can you tell me what happened?”

“Well, sir, it appears that she had a seizure. The bystanders describe a grand-mal seizure that lasted approximately one minute, but she’s coming around now.”

“Is she hurt?”

“It doesn’t appear that way, and my partner is taking good care of her.”

“Is she going to the hospital?”

“It looks that way, since they’re getting her up onto our stretcher right now.”

“Well, which hospital is she going to?”

“To Local Hospital, right up the road. Do you need the address?”

“No, I know where it is. Could you have the ER doctor call me? And make sure she doesn’t have any X-rays or CAT scans or MRIs?”

“Uh…I’ll pass the info along, but that will be up to the physician at the hospital, If you’d like to come to the hospital you can -”

“No, I can’t, because I’m in Connecticut. Can you hand the phone back to her roommate?”

We find out later this girl has been having seizures for several years, but has never seen a neurologist. Her father, who called himself a physician and a doctor, had been treating her (against all sorts of ethics rules). Get this: he has been treating her with adjustments because he “doesn’t believe in pills.”

He’s a chiropractor.


We took a girl to the hospital today because she had a bad dream.

She’s 16.

Mom and dad followed in their car. After having grandma come sit with their 14-year old.

Patient went to triage.

Where she went back to sleep.

Life saved.


Ducks everywhere

Smokey and I saw a sign outside a house today.

“Holistic Chiropractic Care”

Is that like a double quack? A quack quack?

It turns out oils and adjustments won’t stop epilepsy.


He’s alert

Some guy had a seizure. Or syncope. Or something like that.

A lot was “lost in translation,” as they say.

The house smells of strange cooking and there is fancy looking artwork and sculptures all around.

This guy was visiting some family, and just got to the States a couple of days ago. He’s from Angola, according to the passport handed to me.

We’re the second unit on scene, and the fire guys are busy trying to do an assessment. From all outward appearances, the guy is fine, but he doesn’t speak much, if any, English. They’re trying to determine his level of consciousness.

“Are you hurting any where?”¬†one guy yells at him, as though increased volume makes it easier to understand your foreign language.

His translator repeats the question and the patient’s answer: “No.”

Fire dude number three reports the absolutely normal vital signs.

Translator says the patient doesn’t want to go to the hospital.

“Sir,” fire dude number one continues to yell, “I’ve got some strange questions I have to ask you.”

We all wait, impatiently, for these potentially pertinent interrogatories.

“Can you tell me what year it is?”


“Can you tell me what day it is?”

“Uh, Thursday.”

“Can you tell me who the President is?”*

“Jose Eduardo dos Santos.”

“Can you tell me how many quarters are in a dollar?”**

“I have no idea.”

“Well, sir, we are going to have to take you to the hospital, it seems that you are sorta confused, and you might need to get that checked out.”

I’m too busy checking out these cool ass paintings, but that’s when I hear Smokey chime in.

“Nah, he’s good.”

The fire dudes look at him with befuddlement. “But he’s confused. He doesn’t know who the president is, and he doesn’t know how many quarters are in a dollar.”

“He’s not from America, and according to his passport, he came to the United States on Tuesday, through LaGuardia. The president of Angola is Jose de Santos, and their currency isn’t the dollar, it’s the Kwanza, so he’s probably never heard of a quarter.”***

They look crushed and impressed at the same time. Later, Smokey would tell me he hit up the Wikipedia page for Angola while the fire dudes were yelling at the patient. We got the refusal.

He was alert.


*this question rarely, if ever, matters, and more often than not elicits a response that is unnecessary.

**this question is just as dumb.

***I prefer “What’s your name? “Where are you?” What day and year is it?” and “Can you tell me exactly what happened for us to be called here?” when getting a refusal. But hey, to each fire dude their own.