It worked

The drug overdoses (that either aren’t dead, or are awakened) always go the same way: Shaq and I stand around with between four and six firemen, and at least two police officers for upwards of an hour trying to convince this guy to go to the hospital.

And they always wind up going. But we waste a lot of time.

The cops can’t threaten these patients with arrest, because the state has an amnesty law. Basically, if a call for help is made, then a cop can’t arrest for drugs that are found out in the open. I think that is a bit ridiculous, but it is what it is.

Doctors won’t commit these patients involuntarily, so we can’t threaten them with that.

Usually it is just a matter of wearing the person down.

And it gets tedious.

So we ran one of those today. A guy in his thirties relapsed, and shot some heroin after being sober for two years. This guy can’t help that he’s an addict, but he certainly has to take responsibility for shooting heroin into his veins. It turns out his ten-year-old son found him lying in bed, not breathing, then called 911. The son woke the patient with a glass of water splashed on his face.

And enter Shaq and C.

There’s the requisite crew standing around: six firemen, two cops, one shirtless guy with dirty hands sitting on the floor, and one crying mother in the living room. Of course the patient first attempts to deny that he did the drugs, then admits to it when confronted with the full syringe in the bathroom. Then he says he is fine, and doesn’t want to go to the hospital. Shaq and I are standing kinda in the background when he nudges me: “watch this, dude.”

Shaq makes his way to the shirtless guy on the floor, and stands all of his 78 inches over the guy on the floor. Kneeling down to get somewhat on his level, he delivers an excellent oration:

“Hey, dude. Check this out. You’re going to wind up going to the hospital with us today, that’s a fact. You say you don’t want to, but you’re going to. These guys in light blue? They’re from the fire department, and they get off at 7 in the morning. These guys in dark blue, they’re cops. They won’t arrest you, but they won’t leave until we tell them it is okay for them to go. Your mother out there in the living room? She’s calling your wife at work, and she already called your father. They are both on the way over here. Between the twelve of us, we will wear you down like a cheap pencil, and you will walk down those stairs, and you will sit on our stretcher, and you will go to the hospital. So what my partner and I are going to do now is walk outside. We are going to go outside to your front door, lower our stretcher, raise the head of it up, and undo the seat belts. And then we are going to stand there, and stand there, and stand there, until you walk outside and sit on our stretcher. It’s up to you how long that takes, and how much bitching you want to hear from your parents and your wife. When you’re ready, we’ll be outside.”

Then he stands up, turns to me, winks, then walks out.

I’m dumbfounded. I just witnessed a sentinel moment. So, I turn on my heels, and follow Shaq outside.

We barely make it outside before he’s trying to sit on our stretcher.

We’ve been on scene for less than five minutes, and now we’re leaving. On a call that would typically take at least half an hour.

I can’t wait to try that again.

Dispatching Wolf

“Med four, call radio please.”

Sigh. I hate when they want us to call on the radio.

We have radios. They are called ‘radio’ (or dispatch, depending where you are, whatever) for crying out loud. We have multiple channels that we can talk on, and they have the ability to contact us directly through our radios.

They can even send messages to us through our MDTs.

But they want us to call them on the phone. I hate talking on the phone.

And it’s never for anything important that couldn’t be handled some other way. It’s always crap like “hey, you guys have a call coming out soon,” or “do you have a phone number from that lady from that wreck six hours ago?” or “did you guys see a purse/license/keys/stuffed animal in the back of the truck? A patient from two days ago is missing it.”

  • I don’t care. Just dispatch me when it’s time to go.
  • What lady? No, I don’t have her number. It’s on the PCR.
  • Yes, I found it, and I sold it on eBay.

I cannot stand talking to radio on the phone. Well, frankly, I don’t like talking to them on the radio either. Shaq and I came up with a new strategy:

“Medic four, can you call radio?”

“No, ma’am, we can’t. Neither one of us have a cellphone. But we can switch over to private.”


Shaq and I are dispatched to a suicide attempt by carbon monoxide poisoning. The MDT says someone has been in their running car in the locked garage all night. The caller says the person is still alive, and that they have turned the car off, and opened the garage door.

PD has us staging down the road.

It’s barely 5 in the morning.

We didn’t get breakfast this morning.

And I haven’t tucked my shirt in yet.

PD clears us to come in to the house. They gave me just enough time to tuck my shirt in.

As we get close, one of the cops stops us in the street.

“This guy is being a jackass, and he might have a weapon in the car or something. So just hang out here for a little while, cool?”

You don’t have to tell me twice. “Cool, bro. Just let us know when to do what.”

So Shaq puts the ambulance back in park. I start to wonder what the hospital is serving for breakfast in the cafeteria. Maybe they’ll have those cheese grits again. Or the hashbrown casserole. My culinary contemplation is interrupted by a knock on Shaq’s window.

Some guy in a bathrobe obviously needs some attention.

“Yes, sir, can I help you?” asks my partner.

“Yeah. What’s going on up there?” pointing at the house in the cul-de-sac. “What happened?”

“Nothing, really. The police are taking care of everything.”

“Well why is the ambulance here?”

“I’m not really certain, sir. I imagine that someone is sick.”

“Well, what were you dispatched to?”

“I’m not really certain I can tell you that.”

“Don’t you know who I am?”

Shaq looks at me. I shrug. I’ve only halfway been paying attention to their conversation, anyways. “No, sir. I don’t believe we have ever met.”

“I’m one of your medical directors, Doctor Bathrobe.”

This just got interesting.

“Well, Doctor Bathrobe, you should certainly be aware of the fact that I’m not supposed to share any information with the general public. That could possibly be a HIPAA violation. If you would like to call dispatch, I am certain they would be happy to give you any information you desired.”


“Male assaulted. PD on scene” reads the MDT. It’s raining and traffic is heavy, so I have to actually pay attention to the roads instead of the book I was reading.

I’m reading the new Grisham book, Gray Mountain. I can’t recommend it yet.

We finally make it on scene to find a guy in his early thirties standing with local law enforcement in the living room of his apartment. He has blood streaming down his face, and he is holding a towel against his head.

Shaq is taking the lead on this one. He’s going to be in Paramedic school soon, and needs to get used to assessing patients. Plus, he is really good at it. Good enough that I rarely have any questions for my patients, or tips for my partner.

After sensing an opening in the conversation with local law enforcement and the injured gentleman, Shaq breaks in:

“Man, what happened to your head?”

“That bitch hit me with a smoovie!”

“A smoothie?”

“Yeah! A smoovie!”

A glance at the gentlemen with the firearms confirms the previous point: they have no idea what is going on either, and how a cold fruit emulsion could have caused such a wound.

“She hit you in the head with a smoothie?”

“Yeah! I said that already!”

“But how did it cut you like that?”

“Cuz it’s heavy, man! Damn!”

“But, it’s soft, and it’s in a styrofoam cup or something.”

“Naw, man! It’s heavy!”

“A smoothie is heavy?”

“Yeah, man. Heavy. One of them things you smoove your clothes with!”

“One of the things you smooth your clothes with?”


“But, I don’t really…I’m confu-oh! Do you mean an IRON?”


Another farewell to Slimm

He’s gone again.

This time for real. It is going to stick.

He turned in his notice, then a few weeks later, his uniforms and his badge and everything.

My partner left.

I don’t blame him. He got a really sweet job outside of healthcare, and I wish him the best.

I’m really happy for him. And I’m sad for me, too.

I’ve worked with Slimm for many years now, almost close to five. We have added a total of three children to our families, and both bought homes. We’ve run thousands of calls together. Good calls, bad calls, happy calls, sad calls, legit calls, bullshit calls. We’ve been on the local news several times, and delivered half a dozen babies. We have eleven cardiac arrest saves together, and every one of them is to his credit.

And now he’s gone.

We call eachother ‘brothers from another mother of a different color,’ and I think we both mean it. I certainly mean it.

Really, I’m happy for him. But it is bittersweet.

I stayed in EMS because of Slimm. He made coming to work easier. We understood each other. Mostly, he tolerated me, and kept me from getting fired.

I really do love the man, and enjoyed every minute of every shift we spent together.

I couldn’t even say goodbye when our last shift was over.

I just told him I would see him Monday morning.