No case for you

No sir, I am pretty certain you can’t sue the manufacturer for this injury.

Yes sir, I can see that you are in a precarious situation, what with that body part all stuck in that orbital sander.

I am really interested in hearing how in the name of all that is holy how you managed to do that, but really, you are going to have to stop screaming like a smitten schoolgirl first.

What was a guy living in a million-dollar home doing using an orbital sander, anyways. Sanding baseboard molding? Don’t you have money to pay someone to do that for you? You probably paid a handsome sum to have those ugly ass paintings over there done.

I hope your wife looks better than that painting, by the way.

Seriously, dude. Quit screaming. No, I don’t have Propfol, nor do I have Novacaine. Plus, neither one of those would help anyways. Well, one of those certainly would help.

Help me at least.

Please shut up. This is awkward enough as it is. What exactly are you going to tell your wife, anyways?

Okay, I’m really tired of hearing your screams echo off these cavernous walls. This is going to hurt really bad. You can cry now. Yes, yes, like a big boy. It’s over now.

Hospital time, sir. Here, have a seat. Yes, you have to go to the hospital. We need to get a specialist to take a look at that.

Really? You want to sue the manufacturer? You’re kidding, right? Dude, you just told me that you left this thing plugged in to the wall.

Pretty sure it says somewhere in the owner’s manual to unplug it before doing any type of work on it. And I’m pretty sure that isn’t normal.

Good luck with your case, dude.


“Don’t deliver babies in the back of an ambulance” they say on the first day of EMT school.

“Either at the patient’s home, or the hospital,” they say.

“Make sure you can make it all the way to the hospital before the patient delivers.”


I’ve been a pretty good judge of impending delivery so far in my career. I’ve assisted deliveries in bedrooms, on couches, in a shower, in the back of a minivan on the side of the interstate in rush hour traffic, and even in a doctor’s office, much to the consternation of the office staff. But never in the back of an ambulance.

Until now.

“How far along are you, and when is your due date?”


“How far apart are your contractions?”


“They are about 5 minutes apart, and they last 30 seconds” says the husband, who does not appear to be in as much pain as his hypergravid wife, who is not crowning during her contractions, as reported by the husband and EMTs on scene.

Hospital is 10 minutes away, plus 5 minutes to make it to the labor and delivery floor, and contractions are 5 minutes apart? We’ve got time. Plenty of time.

“Ma’am, we are going to lift you up and put you on this stretcher, so we can get you to the hospital, okay?”


So demanding, this patient.

“Y’all need a rider on the way to the hospital?” asks the officer on the fire truck.

“I think we will make it, but if you want to send someone, that would be okay with me.”

Of course they give me the kid who just graduated middle school.

“OHGODINEEDTOPUSH!” screams the patient 3 minutes into our 10 minute transport time.

“We are almost there, ma’am, don’t worry.” is my reply. Holy cow that’s a high blood pressure. Let’s retake that…

“Uh, I think you need to look at this” says the prepubescent boy with the fire department patch.

Holy shit, she’s crowning! NO! That’s not crowning! That’s a forehead!

Sticking my head through the window to the front of the ambulance, I report to Slimm; “Hey, I either need you to pull over, glove up and get back here now, or get me to the hospital 5 minutes ago.”

He prefers to drive.

The delivery was uncomplicated. A beautiful, pink baby boy with APGARs of 8 and 9.

The clean-up of the ambulance was not uncomplicated.

I don’t think the fireman will ever be the same, either.

“Home or hospital, never in the ambulance” they say.


Expose and examine

A person shot behind a big-box store. This particular area has a large, low income immigrant population. Violence is very common. English is not.

Local Law Enforcement advises us to hurry up, and that the scene is safe for our entry. We find them, aided by the umpteen police cars present, their blue lights sure to induce seizures in epileptics. They are all standing around what appears to be an injured person.

Sure enough, he’s injured.

Laying on his back, with lots of blood on the ground. I see a few shell casings as I walk up to the patient.

My quick assessment reveals someone who is conscious and alert. My broken Spanish yields his name, and his age, and the name of his attacker. He states he doesn’t know how many times he was shot.

Officer Cutiepie thanks me for getting the name of a suspect as I begin to remove his clothing, of course being careful to cut around the holes.

I have found that cutting along seams is helpful, and preserves clothes in two complete pieces. Whatever.

I count 5 holes in his chest, and two in his abdomen. None in his arms, legs or pelvis. The holes are small. I’m no ballistics expert, but they certainly didn’t come from a 9mm.

His lungs are good. For now, at least.

Log rolled, and nothing noted to his back. Not that it would change my treatment.

“Where is all this blood coming from?” asks Slimm, as he maintains c-spine.

“No clue, man. What do you say we take him to Capital Trauma Center?”

“Sounds good to me.”

Officer Cutiepie returns with a paper bag. “Can I get his clothing real quick, before you leave? I mean, I know you are in a hurry and all…”

She’s cute as all get-out, so I gladly comply. Slimm removes the patient’s hat. He doesn’t care that Cutiepie is cute, he’s just a nice guy.

“Hey, check this out.”

“What? Oh, shit!”

Perfect bullet hole in the center of his forehead, right underneath the brim of his cap. Golf ball-sized hematoma to go along with it, too. I couldn’t have drawn a hole better with a marker. There’s another one just above his ear. It appears to be more of a grazing wound. So that’s where all the blood is coming from.

We would have found the wounds eventually, you know.

The patient made it, and had a full recovery.

For sale: Stretcher. Lightly used, with IV pole. $20 OBO

Several minutes after leaving Local Hospital, a message was broadcast to all the ambulances on the MDTs.

“Who is missing something?”

That’s kind of a vague question.

I’m missing a paycheck, if there’s one of those laying around somewhere. I’m missing lots of sanity and dignity. I’m missing the Packers game.

Remembering that I saw two stretchers in the EMS lobby, while there was only one ambulance on Local Hospital’s ramp, I take a cursory glance in the back. That’s got to be what dispatch is talking about.

It’s there.


I wonder which truck the stretcher belonged to. I wondered what their reaction was when they opened the doors on their next call.

Mostly I don’t care.

For once, I didn’t screw up.

Thankfully, I have yet to leave my stretcher at a hospital.

Well, except that one time.  But it’s cool.  We didn’t need it on the next call anyway.

A pseudo-apology

I’m so sorry that I hurt your feelings in front of your fire buddies, the patient, his family, my partner, and my student.

But you deserved it.

“I’m going to check your pulse” should not be followed by placing the pulse oximeter on a finger.

I gave you a chance when I asked you what the quality of his pulse was.

But then you said “I don’t know.” And then you wanted to get snippy when I told you that “you don’t know, because you didn’t check.”

You really did deserve that.

Dude, seriously, you’ve been an EMT for more than 3 years!

And I’m sure you will tell all your buddies that I am some sort of jerk, or rude, or think that I know it all.

And I’m okay with that. Because I know how to do my job.