Borracho

“This is Jose’. He had a little bit too much to drink and he fell-”

“How do you know he had too much to drink?”

“Have you been in the room? I can still smell him from here. Anyways, he tripped over the carp-”

“Did he tell you that he had too much to drink?”

“He isn’t here because he is drunk. He’s here because of the big gash on his-”

“So he isn’t drunk, and you are just judging him because he is Mexican?”

“Actually, he is from Guatemala, but when he tripped, he fell forward and-”

“Where do you want me to sign?”

“Right here,” I point to the appropriate spot.

“Good. You can go now” comes the reply, as she walks into the room. “Good morning, sir. What happened?”

“I got drunk then tripped over some loose carpet in my house.”

I can’t resist. I stick my head behind the curtain.

“Told ya so.”

“Floyd, dude”

I’m transporting a nice guy in his thirties for a broken ankle. He’s a stoner, and currently high as a kite, which has nothing to do with the unfortunate injury he sustained. Regardless, it doesn’t stop the other first responders from judging him from his marijuana use.

I just wish he would share, and I didn’t have to occasionally pee in a cup.

He’s loaded in the ambulance, and we are on the way to a fancy building where they have the capabilities to repair his protruding tibia. He’s gotten a little bit of morphine, which seems to help his pain. He now describes his injury as “gnarly.”

Sounds of music waft into the patient compartment as Slimm turns up the radio a bit.

“Dude, is that Floyd?!”

“Yes, sir.”

“Is it Dark Side? What’s your partner’s name?”

“Yeah, we were listening to it earlier. His name is Slimm.”

“Hey, Slimm!” he yells. “Turn it up!”

My intrepid partner obliges, and we all jam out to Pink Floyd for the next several minutes. The delightful gentleman even gave an excellent air drum rendition during Money.

Not really a stabbing

The “stabbing” that we sent 12 people to, blaring their sirens and flashing their lights, turns out to be a goofball who poked himself in the top of the hand with a steak knife.

Some college-aged moron was playing the “knife game” while drunk.

I have seen the future, and we are doomed.

Nevertheless, he actually bled a good amount. One of his roommates was kind enough to bandage everything up before the fire department got there, and he did a darned good job of it, too. Like, 4×4 dressing and kling wrapped, and tied in a knot.

The bleeding is controlled, and not a single spot show through the bandage.

I think the roommate said something about being a boy scout, but he was slurring his words pretty hard. Regardless, I’m not one to remove a bandage just to look at a wound, when the bleeding is already controlled.

Laziness, maybe. Maybe not.

He wants to go to the hospital across the county to be near his mommy. If I were drunk and stabbed myself while playing the knife game on a dare, the last place I would want to be is near my mother. It’s a low-priority call, so Slimm jumps in the back and I drive.

I catch about 20 minutes of a Rush Limbaugh rerun on the way.

At the hospital, after dropping him off, my Slimm is approached by the doctor on staff.

Hey, did you guys even look at the cut on his hand?”

No, not really. The bleeding was controlled by the time we got there, and the bandage was already on. We didn’t want to remove the bandage just to look at it.”

I’m hiding around the corner, but within earshot, working on my first cup of coffee.

Well, you guys should have looked at it. It’s only like, two centimeters long and not very deep. It will probably only take one stitch, but we might be able to glue it.”

Oh, so you guys can handle it? Or do we need to run him down to the trauma center?”

I choked on that sip of coffee.

Not awesome

“GSW/HEAD POSS DOA/NOT BREATHING” read the notes on the screen of the MDT.

I can literally see the adrenelin coursing through my partner’s veins, and I can literally hear his heart rate increase to a sinus tachycardia with frequent PACs. He has obviously never run a shooting before, and I think I can smell the wet ink on his EMT card.

“YES!!!!” he yells in a voice that is all too loud for the front seat of a small ambulance, as he slams the gear shift into drive.

Somehow we manage to make it to the front of the neighborhood in one piece, minus a little bit of rubber from the rear tires. Now we are staging.

Still staging.

10 minutes after we begin staging, the county dispatcher contacts the engine crew. “Engine 22, PD hasn’t advised the scene is clear, but they advise obvious DOA, and have requested a crime scene investigator. Will advise when scene is safe to enter.”

“Medic 7, County” I call. “Medic Seven.” “County, cancel 22, I believe we can handle.”

Engine 22 pulls away from the scene, into the rising sun.

After being cleared for entry by the county dispatcher, we make our way into the house.

“Upstairs, third door on the left, make sure not to mess anything up, CCC.” says the PD Lieutenant who has known me for years.

“I never do, Lou.”

If it weren’t for gravity, I swear this kid next to me would be bouncing off the walls and the ceiling.

A cursory glance at the patient from the doorway confirms what everyone else already knows, the voice of EMS simply being a required formality in this jurisdiction.

Partner’s eyes are big enough to eat dinner from. I have a feeling mine reveal different emotions. We make our way back to the front of the well kept, middle-class home, my partner heading towards the ambulance, not to be seen for a few minutes. I gravitate towards the gathered police and family members down stairs.

I learn the man upstairs is a husband of 30 years, and a father of 4. He was to become a grandfather in several months. He worked as an architect for a firm building high rise buildings in the big city, and has battled depression for most of his adult life.

His wife is remarkably stoic, but appears empty inside. As if the weight of the situation has not fully set in. His high-school aged son, now the man of the house, is remarkably composed, as I hear him talking on his phone in the kitchen, canceling some events that were previously planned for this evening. “I can’t make it, bro. I’ll call you later, okay?”

I learn a lot about my patient in just a few short moments. I look into the eyes of his wife, and express my condolences. I ask if she is sure that she is okay, and make sure there is nothing else I can do for her before I leave. She assures me there isn’t, and thanks me with genuine emotion.

Lou obtains the necessary information from me as I leave the house, assuring me that this is a pretty clear suicide, and no foul play is suspected.

I climb back into the ambulance, and can no sooner reach for the radio to return to service, when partner, still in sinus tachycardia, looks at me with a big grin.

“Dude, that was awesome!”

Now a part of me is mad, and I can’t help it.

“No, it wasn’t ‘awesome.’ It is terrible. There are three children inside that home who just lost their father. There is a wife in that home who came home from running errands to find her husband of 30 years dead in their bed. And not just dead, but a traumatic dead. There is a pregnant lady somewhere near by who lost her dad, and who’s baby will never have him as a grandfather. There is a company that no longer has a coworker, and friends who will never get to see him again. There won’t be an open casket, and that image you saw in that bedroom is the last vision his children, and his wife, will ever have of him. It’s not fucking awesome, and it’s not cool. Grow up.”

Later, I wanted to apologize to him. But I didn’t. The kid is going to have to learn some how.

Our patients are more than just patients. They are someone’s family.

Tough guy

A person shot at a seedy apartment complex. Not all too unheard of. I never get shootings, though. Mostly little old ladies with balance problems.

PD arrives on scene when we are about 2 minutes away. Their update says something about “a whole lot of blood.”

It’s probably kool-aid. Or someone else’s blood.

Sure enough, the cop is right. It’s the blood of our “victim.” He has been shot square in his left ass cheek.

Sorry. “Medial aspect of the inferior left buttock” for you serious types.

This would be funny, if this dude in his early twenties wasn’t screaming and crying like a little bitch.

“Man, don’t let me die, man, don’t let me die! I DON’T WANT TO DIE, MAN!”

“Hey, buddy,” says Slimm, “I think you’re gonna make it.”

“Come on, man, this aint funny, man! SOMEONE CALL MY MOMMA!”

His clothes are cut off, revealing his tough guy tattoo on his abdomen. A crappy attempt at old English letters, with inconsistent shadowing.

“TOUGH-ASS <racial slur>”

Tough, indeed. “What’s your momma’s number?”

He made it.