AOH :: PMH17.TXT|
Paramedics from Hell 17
Paramedics from Hell 17
My alarm clock has a feature that I specifically bought it for:
One alarm setting will turn on the radio; the volume gradually increases until
it's so loud that the speaker distorts the 60's music station that it's set to.
I hate 60's music - so does my downstairs neighbor, who has a penchant for
rapping his ceiling (my floor) with a broom-stick, as a sign of his displeasure.
Why I am telling you this?
Seven-thirty in the morning. That's thirty minutes past the time I was supposed
to be at work. That's about an _hour_ past the time I set my alarm to go off.
That's about ten minutes past the time my downstairs neighbor decided he'd had
enough, and began to tappity-tap his morse-code of hate to me. Only it wasn't
really morse-code; it was more like:
*WHAM* *WHAM* *WHAM* "You fucking asshole!" *WHAM* *WHAM* *WHAM*
It was about that time that I decided to wake up. My head throbbing from last
night's drinking binge, I stumbled towards the alarm, shut it off. After a few
more taps to the ceiling, my neighbor finished with a loud - "FUCKING ASSHOLE!"
There was silence. Then the phone rang. I stumbled to this new source of noise -
and pain, and answered:
"Tae, WHERE THE FUCK ARE YOU?"
It was the dispatcher.
That's how my day began.
I got into work half an hour later. All the ambulances were out doing calls. I
walked into the dispatch office. Shift change had taken place long before I woke
up; the only person to talk to was Kevin, the dispatcher.
ObAside: Kevin has the dubious honor of making me puke once. Several years ago,
he noticed a large lump in the middle of his chest. Convinced that it was
nothing more than a large cyst, he asked me to drain it for him, as he was too
cheap to go to a doctor. After assembling the appropriate equipment, I made a
small incision at the base of the cyst. A thin stream of green pus mixed with
blood shot out of the wound, a smell reminiscent of sour milk and rancid seafood
rose to my face. The smell was so overpowering that I retched and eventually
puked. In my defense, I will say that I recovered enough to finish the
procedure; squeezing the cyst to make sure that all of the pus was evacuated
from the cyst.
After exchanging a few pleasantries with the dispatcher:
"How's the wife?"
"Hate the lying bitch."
"How're the kids?"
"Goddamn rug-rats - can't stand'em."
"How's that urinary tract infection - still hurt to pee?"
my unit - Medic 11, backed into the garage. The guy that'd stayed over for me
looked haggard. I quickly walked over to relieve him of his keys and radio.
"What did you go out for?"
"Diff breather - two-hundred and fifty pounds - third-floor carry-down."
"Um, well - thanks for staying for me."
Seeing as this would be the tone for the day, I quickly checked the truck out,
hoping to leave the base as soon as possible. We went in search of coffee - the
fluid-replacement of choice. Just as we were pulling in to the nearest "Dunkin'
Donuts," we received our first call of the day:
"Medic 11 - respond priority one <some address> for a man 'in pain.'"
"That man better be 'in pain,' or he will be," roared my partner as he backed
out of the parking lot. The entire company knew that my partner was on Prozac.
It didn't seem to be working. As he ranted during the response, all I could
think about was the day-glo orange and pink sign that rapidly shrank from my
sight - and with it my only hope for salvation on what was turning out to be a
real stinker of a day.
We arrived at the address. Engine 2 was several blocks away, it's air- horn
doing double-time, trying to clear the morning traffic. I grabbed the 'medical
bag' and oxygen tank, while my partner slung the cardiac monitor over his
shoulder. His rants had become subdued - now an occasional mumble. Little
snippets of "... just wait..." and "...they'll be sorry..." under his breath
added to general misery. We walked up a few steps leading to the front porch,
and took positions just left and right of the door. I rapped on the door with
"Hello - anyone call for an ambulance?"
I turned the door-knob; the front door swung-in smoothly, revealing a set of
stairs and a long narrow hallway, which lead to what appeared to a kitchen.
Giving my partner, a "what the hell" look, I entered the hallway.
"Hey - anybody call an ambulance?" I shouted, as I tried to decide whether to
go down the hall, or proceed up the stairs. My partner was still outside,
trying to decide whether to enter at all. Just then, we both heard a muffled
voice coming from the end of the hall. We followed the voice to a closed door.
Taking our positions on either side of the door again, I knocked:
"Hello - did you call an ambulance?"
"Who's out there? <muffle> do you want?"
I opened the door, and saw an elderly man, wearing nothing but briefs, standing
next to a bed. He was facing away from me.
"Did you call for an ambulance?"
"I don't know."
"Why don't you turn this way and look at me?"
"I can't move, it hurts."
By this time, Engine 2 had arrived, and I could hear the roar of the diesel
engine through the open door. Feeling a little more safe, I entered the room,
and approached the man. I saw why he couldn't move:
He had been impaled on one of the bedposts. Somehow, this man had a bed post
rammed up between his anus and scrotum - while in a standing position. I kneeled
in front of this older man, in what could have been misconstrued as a private
exchange between priest and penitent, in order to get a better look an the
injury. The man was wearing briefs, it's fabric had also been pushed through the
skin along with the bedpost. There was a little spotting of blood on the briefs
- and the largest 'skid mark' I'd seen in recent times. The underwear were a
uniform gray, with spots of dark dried urine. He was wearing them with the
maker's label out - a faded "Tuesday" written in permanent marker on the
elastic. I asked him what had happened.
"I don't know. I got up, and ... I don't remember."
The tops of the other three bed posts were conical in shape, with a smooth
blunt tip at the top. I shudder to think how much force it took to have such a
blunt object pierce the skin. My best guess was that the man, in an attempt to
get out of bed, actually got _on_ his bed, then slipped off the side of it,
impaling himself in a standing position.
That deep question answered, we now had to figure out how to get him off the
bedpost. The standard procedure in dealing with impaled objects is to leave it
in place, stabilize the object to minimize further injury to the patient, and
transport. Obviously there are exceptions to the procedure. I couldn't see
myself loading the bed and patient in the back - though in retrospect, it may
have been a spectacular way to end my career in EMS.
The fire department offered to cut part of the bedpost off, to minimize the
amount of bedpost I'd have to take with me. Another ... interesting option, one
that involved a chainsaw. Again, a vision of a spectacular end to my career. No,
that wouldn't do.
The man, after standing stock-still for the better part of twenty minutes, was
beginning to tire; his legs now visibly shaking. It was quickly decided that
we'd place a 'scoop' board behind him, and strap him to the board while he was
standing. After securing him to the board, we would lift him off the post.
As we were strapping him to the 'scoop,' the man suddenly said - "You'd better
"I know you're tired, sir - we'll have you out very soon."
"No, it's not that - I gotta use the bathroom."
I didn't even ask him whether it was a 'number 1 or 2,' I didn't want to know.
We silently picked up the pace, working feverishly to strap him to the board.
Then we lifted him up and off the bedpost, which he acknowledged with a sudden
intake of breath, and a loud moan. We then carried him out of the house and into
the waiting ambulance.
There was a slight pause as my partner and I decided who would ride in back with
him. My bloodshot eyes met his angry, Prozac-enhanced ones in a silent battle of
wills. I hesitated - and lost. I climbed in back, saying a little prayer.
Every bump on the road caused the patient to groan, and me to pray a little
harder. A particularly violent bump caused me to look towards the front of the
ambulance. I could see sheer, malicious delight in my partner's eyes in the
rear-view mirror, as he glanced back every so often to enjoy my misery. The
sudden realization - a 'Zen' moment, if you will, that he was _deliberately_
aiming for bumps on the road, filled me hate even as my newfound respect for him
grew. Cunning bastard.
We arrived at the hospital, and backed into the ambulance bay. We tried to carry
him into the emergency department as quickly as possible, but as we crossed the
threshold of the ER doors, the patient let out a long, wet-sounding flatus,
followed by a stream of runny, dark diarrhea. We didn't stop, merely shifting
our positions to avoid the spatters of shit that hit the linoleum floor. We're
nothing,if not professionals.
The rest of the day sucked, too.
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