One of my coworkers caused the death of a patient. In layman’s terms, my coworker killed someone. There really isn’t much to discuss, or wiggle-room, or room for doubt.

That’s what happens when you act arrogant and talk a big game around veteran EMTs and Paramedics – your actions are scrutinized just a little bit more.

And it doesn’t help that my coworker doesn’t understand what she did wrong. She tries to defend it, when her actions scream negligence.

We’ve all seen the EKG. We’ve heard the report. We’ve heard the excuses. We know what happened.

A person is dead now because of the negligence of one of my coworkers. Sure, the patient may have died anyways, but my coworker assured that the patient would die.

And that lady still has a job.

And she won’t be fired.

Because she shows up to work on time.

I can’t respect management that allows that to happen.

I won’t respect management.

They are unconscionable.

Guilt trip

“You two work so nicely together.” says the dowager octogenarian, looking at Slimm. “It is nice to see two handsome young men who care so much about other people.”

“Thanks, ma’am. We’ve been together for quite a while now.”

“Oh? How long have you two been working together?” she asks.

“Going on four years now, ma’am.”

“Oh, that is delightful. You make a great team.”

“Thank you for your kind words. C and I are actually brothers, and partners.”

“I bet it can seem like you are brothers, working together for so long.”

“No. We are actually brothers.”

“But, but…you’re black” she whispers, furtively glancing around. “and, and…he’s white.”

“Yeah, well, C is adopted.”

Look here, Miss Bubbly

I get it. Your bubbly personality is part of your ‘shtick.’ Everyone understands, you were a housewife, but your husband was a meany-head, and you divorced him, and had to get a job, and for some reason chose EMS. Whatever.

And you like to make cute little jokes, thinking your personality will make up for your lack of experience or real-world knowledge. But they don’t.

Making jokes and trying to be all cutesy is just fine and dandy, at the appropriate times. But that time is not in the middle of a patient’s home while they are having a myocardial infarction. I needed a hand with vitals, IV, and meds, but you had to go pet Sadie instead.

Oh, you didn’t realize that’s what was happening?

Maybe you could shut your mouth and open your eyes. Pay attention. Look at the patient. Hell, I don’t know, maybe you could follow the cues of your paramedic partner, and the fire department medic. Our combined experience may not be exactly as many years as you are old, but we know what we are doing.

But at least the dog was happy, right?


A “person shaking and cold after having an ultrasound” according to the dispatcher and the MDT

We are going by ourselves, and a quick glance at the directions tells me it might be a 15-minute ride. Just enough time to set my fantasy lineup for the weekend.

How do we know which house it is, if we are having trouble locating? That’s right, it’s the one with all the cars in the driveway.

Four cars this time.

Sure enough, some lady is sitting on a couch, shaking. She complains of being cold, and thinks this is some sort of a reaction to the ultrasound she had earlier.

I have already checked out, but we load the nice lady up anyways, and do a full workup.

Her pressure is better than mine, 12-lead is a sinus rhythm in the sixties, blood sugar is around 100, she’s afebrile, blah, blah, blah.

So we head on over to the hospital with, you guessed it, a guy following us in his car. He’s playing it tight, too. Less than one car length behind us, and he even has his flashers on.

Instead of brood over how stupid people are, I try to decide between starting Antonio Brown or Dez Bryant in my flex spot.

Before we can get this lady out of the ambulance, the follower is all up in Slimm’s face.

“What took you so long to get to the hospital?!”

“Nothing? It took about ten minutes.”

“Why didn’t you go emergency? Use the lights and the siren?”

“Because it wasn’t necessary? Because your wife’s vital signs are all just fine.”

“Hell, I could have brought her here in less time!”


“Why the hell did I call an ambulance if I could have taken her to the hospital just the same?!”


Gotta love it when they answer their own questions.

Not even close

We’re posting. We have a new hire, and Slimm is in the back. From the sounds of it, he is in deep slumber. I’m pecking away on my computer.

“What are you doing over there?”

“Just writing.”

“Oh. What do you write?”

“I have a blog. I’m just writing some posts out.”

“Oh, you have a blog?”


“Where’s your blog?”

“It’s anonymous. I don’t put my name on it.”

“Oh. So, like, you write stories about EMS and stuff?”

This chick is brilliant. “Yeah, something like that.”

“Like, ohmygod! Are you Burned-Out Medic?!”

“Ha! Not even close.”


I don’t think my mom even reads my blog. Heck, I don’t think my mom even knows that I have a blog.


Yesterday, I wrote about how Slimm and I were discussing the definition of ‘yonder’ while on the way to a call to pick up a bossy lady.

Seriously, that’s what we do.

We suggest that everyone eschew the common, accepted definition of yonder, which can be found at dictionary.com. While it may be used to describe some “place, more or less distant; over there,” we propose a new definition:




1. further than you can throw, but not too far to walk

“I’m going to head over yonder to pee. Holler if we get a call.”

Now you know.


A lady fell in her home and hurt her hip. At least according to the MDT. Slimm and I debate the definition of ‘yonder’ on the way to her house.

We are met outside of a palatial townhouse but one of the fire gals. She is standing next to the truck with the bags and clipboard.

When one of the grunts has the clipboard, you know it is some serious bullshit.

“This lady fell ten days ago.”

“For real?”

“Yeah. Anyways…so she fell ten days ago, and went to the hospital. They said there was nothing wrong with her, and sent her home. Now she is in there demanding to go back to the hospital.”


After five minutes of moving this lady around and getting her outside her home, and onto the stretcher, then locking all the locks on the door, then getting her loaded into the ambulance, then hiding the key back under the statue of the cherub by the front door, we finally have her loaded into the ambulance, and I’m covered in sweat.

The South sucks in summer time.

“I want some water.”

“I’m sorry, ma’am, we don’t have any water in the ambulance.”

“Well, go back inside and get me a bottle out of the fridge.”

Now, normally, I am not opposed to giving patients water. Especially when I’m pretty sure there is nothing wrong with them, but one thing I am not is an errand boy.

“Ma’am, we aren’t going back inside your house to get a bottle of water. You will have to talk to the doctor when we get to the hospital.”

“Why aren’t we moving yet? Why is it taking so long to get to the hospital?”

“Because we just got you loaded into the ambulance, and then we were discussing your water request.”

“Well, if you aren’t going to get me any water, at least take me to the hospital.”


“I want you to call my doctor.”

“You can go ahead and call him if you would like.”

“I don’t have a phone, so you need to call him.”

“That is interesting. I don’t have a phone either.”

“I want them to put me on the fourth floor of the hospital.”

“That will be up to the doctors at the hospital.”

“No, that will be up to me.”

Just a few minutes later, after I call the hospital on the radio (since I don’t have a phone):

“Ma’am, the hospital says they are on diversion, and it might take a while for them to find a bed for you in the Emergency Room.”

“I don’t want to go to the Emergency Room, I want to go to the fourth floor!”

“But you have to go through the Emergency Room.”

“Take me home.”

We are literally almost there. I can smell the antiseptic, and see the hospital through the front. “What do you mean, ‘take you home’?”

“I don’t want to wait. I want to go right to a room.”

“What are you going to do when you get home?”

“I’m going to call 911 and have someone take me to the hospital.”

“Ma’am, the people that show up when you call 911 are myself and my handsome partner up front. That would just be a huge waste of everyone’s time.”

Thankfully, Slimm has been ignoring this lady, and has pulled up onto the ramp already. But she is still at it:

“I want you to call my son.”

“Ma’am, I will make sure to get you a phone when we get inside.”

“I don’t know his number!”

“Okay, I’m sure that you can call Directory Assistance, and they will help you find his phone number in this city of several million people.”

We wheel her inside and put her against the wall while we wait for a room assignment. The charge nurse looks over my shoulder and sighs.

“Oh crap. This bitch again?”

“So you’re familiar.”

“I took care of her like, last week. Wouldn’t quit bossing people around.”

“Sounds about right.”

“Put her in triage.”

“She is going to raise a big stink.”

“I don’t care. You need me to sign something?”

English major

A call for a “person in pain” about two blocks from our local hospital.

I decide to go ahead and finish my game of Mahjong on the computer while we are driving to the call, while Slimm opines on the situation awaiting us.

“Man, twenty bucks says she just walked out of the hospital, and wants to go all the way downtown.”

Knowing that our bets never involve the actual exchange of money, I accept.

“What’s going on?”

“I’m hurting everywhere.”


“I want to go to the hospital.”

“Good for you, there is one right over there,” as I point to the hospital, about 100 yards away.

“No, I don’t want to go there. I want to go downtown.”

Slimm wins. Again. “Why don’t you want to go to that hospital right there?”

“They are mean to me. I just left there. I don’t want to go back.”

“Okay, then. Hop up here on the stretcher.”

Downtown is at least a half an hour away, so I have plenty of time for more Mahjong on the way. I’ve also started listening to Handel on the Law podcasts, and enjoy a brief show while I match tiles on the computer screen.

The radio report is made, and it was one of the best ever.

I wish you could have been there to hear it. I felt like such a hero.

“Umm, did you have to tell them that?” asks the person on the stretcher.

“Tell them what?”

“That I just walked out of the other hospital?”

“Well, yeah. It is kinda pertinent to the current situation.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means it is relevant, or germane.”

“Who is Jermaine? I don’t know nobody named Jermaine.”

Bad decision

A middle-aged male calls 911 because he doesn’t feel well. We find him sitting in a chair in his bedroom, looking terrible. Pale, cool, diaphoretic, cyanotic, and in obvious distress.

What my father would call “looking like death eating a cracker.”

He had a CABG a few years ago, and has high blood pressure. His wife says he has never had a heart attack though, and only did the CABG after an abnormal stress test.

He’s having one today though.

The 12-lead shows a big anterior infarct, with lateral involvement, and with lots of ectopy on the continuous ECG. His blood pressure is low, too.

Lots of bad things are going on.

“Sir, let’s get you on to Local Hospital.”

“No, I want to go to Southside Hospital.”

Southside Hospital is thirty minutes and two counties away. And this guy doesn’t have thirty minutes.

“We really need to go to a closer hospital, and Local is only five minutes away.”

“I will not go to Local Hospital. Take me to Southside” he says between breaths.

“Sir, you are having a heart attack. Southside is half an hour away, and that is just too far. We need to go somewhere a lot closer.”

“I don’t care. I am NOT GOING to Local Hospital.”

Slimm was wise, as usual, and had the patient sign a refusal form on which Slimm wrote ‘Patient refused closest hospital.’

I hated to take a firefighter so far out of the county, but I really didn’t have a choice. We told the other guys on the engine that we would bring him back. I really don’t like to take riders, but I felt like something bad was going to happen, and I would need the help.

Something bad happened, and I needed the help.

About six minutes after passing Local Hospital, the patient went into v-fib. Even though my defibrillator pads were already on, and it took about 5 seconds to deliver the shock, it didn’t work. After Amiodarone and two more defibrillations, he was in asystole.

Slimm diverted us to Local Hospital, and the patient never came out of asystole.

If he would have gone to Local Hospital, the outcome would likely have been the same, but I can’t help to think that it might have been different. If he would have listened to the advice of the providers on scene, he might have survived. But he made a bad decision.

Someone once told me something very wise.

“People have the right to make bad decisions.”

It’s like a Hollywood script

Finally, Slimm and I are back together. This will be our first time back on a truck together in what feels like years, but has really only been about one year.

I have to wake up 5 hours earlier than I am used to, but I think it’s worth it.

We hugged in the parking lot. It was a brief hug, but it was a hug nonetheless.

Then we got breakfast.

And our breakfast was interrupted because some guy fell out of bed. Now my gravy is going to be cold, and nobody likes cold gravy on their biscuits.

“Radio Med One.”

“MmmmGohead” I reply sleepily.

“Caller is advising agonal respirations.”


I turn to Slimm. “I hope the caller is just stupid.”

“Me too, bro. Me too.”

“Radio Med One”

WHAT?! “Gohead”

“Caller advises full arrest. They are starting CPR.”


This sucks. The sun isn’t up yet, and neither am I.

Sure enough, it’s a full arrest. The fire guy recognizes me.

“What’s up, C?” he asks as he’s doing compressions. “You pick up an extra shift?”

“Naw, man, I’m back on the truck with Slimm again. Whatcha got?”

“Glad to hear you guys are back. Wife woke up and found him here about ten minutes ago. AED says ‘no shock,’ Bubba got the LMA in, and Chester is about to start the IO.”

I feel around this guy. I don’t see any obvious trauma, but his skin sure is cyanotic. And cold. I mean, remarkably cold. Most people I have felt this cold before have either had lividity or rigor, but he has neither. He is in asystole, and his pupils are dilated and fixed.

Basically, he’s dead. But not dead enough to stop working.

“C, you want us to stop, or keep going?”

“Nah, keep going, let’s move him out into the kitchen, and we’ll work him there. We have more room there.”

Somebody gets the IO, and I see Slimm putting together the bicarb and epi. He looks over at me. “We going to do the two rounds then call it?” he asks.

“Nah, buddy. We’re gonna get him back.”

I wink. Just joking, of course.

But we did.

Five minutes later he had a pulse, was breathing on his own about ten times a minute, and had a blood pressure of 130/90.

“We have to stop doing this.”

“What? Getting people back?”

“Not that. But doing it so easily.

“They should make a movie about us.”