AOH :: PMH19.TXT|
Paramedics from Hell 19
From : Tae Kim 19 Oct 95
Subj : Paramedics from Hell 19
I barely made it in time for my day shift. That was planned. Seeing as how
Monday mornings typically have the highest incident of heart attacks, more
often than not my unit would have to respond some time before shift change.
I figured that if I showed up early, I'd be blessed with having to respond
to a call before my first cup of coffee - painful for me, deadly for the
patient. If I showed up barely in time for the shift, not only would I
avoid having to work-up some HOH (hard of hearing) Q-tip, but I'd be able
to relax in the lounge for while - on company time, of course. The gods
smiled upon me: as I entered the garage, I could see that my unit was gone.
The dispatcher confirmed that the night crew had responded to a 'chest
pain' just a few minutes before I arrived. I was assured at least an hour's
worth of paperwork and restocking before they could clear. I punched-in,
sat in the employee lounge, and drank my coffee as I sucked off the company
tit. Life was good.
However, all good things, like chemically-induced hallucinatory states,
must come to an end. About half an hour later, my unit rolled in - a dirty,
mud-splattered beast; in it's short but hard life, it'd probably
transported more drunks and junkies than most homeless shelters had ever
seen. The night crew dragged themselves out of the truck, one guy handing
me a set of keys and a portable radio as he passed me by. He was too tired
to even say 'hello' as walked pass me; maybe he didn't like me. Oh well,
fuck him too.
The other person from the night shift, Chris, started gathering stray
paperwork and dead LifePak monitor batteries to turn in. She was going to
be my day partner. She looked like shit: hair flattened on one side of her
head - 'bed head', her shirt was rumpled-looking and sported
blood/food/vomitus stains. I don't know what kind of threats and/or
promises the supervisor made in order for her to work the night into the
day, but every time I've done it, I've regretted it. However, I've worked
with her for a few years, and under the Aqua-Net and vomit was one tough,
street-smart medic, so I wasn't worried. Once, a drunk guy at a call
grabbed her ass, and she kicked him in the balls so hard, the cops on-scene
took pity and asked the guy if he was alright, as he lay curled in a fetal
position, gasping for air. My guess was ... not.
I began to size up how the shift would be; it was a Monday morning, so I
could expect a few more chest pain calls in the next few hours, the roads
were dry so the chances of us responding to an MVA (motor vehicle accident)
were slim, but the early-morning rush hour traffic always fucked up those
odds. My partner du jour had worked a busy overnight shift, so I pretty
much expected to be driving the truck the entire shift with a slack-jawed,
drooling person sitting next to me. All things considered, it wasn't so
bad. Besides, I'd just downed a double-latte, and things began to take on
that hard-edged, metallic sheen that always happens to me when I take too
many uppers at one time. I was 'rarin to go.
As we drove to the parking lot behind a Dunkin' Donuts - our 'satellite'
spot for the day, I asked Chris how her night was.
"mumble mumble stabbing mumble mumble mumble O.D. mumble tough tube mumble
puke mumble ..."
It was probably the best response I would get from her, as she'd already
put on her sunglasses and was leaning back in the seat, hoping to catch a
nap before we got to the parking lot.
I pulled into the parking lot, and postitioned the truck near a dumpster
behind the store - away from the public view. I settled down to read the
newspaper, while Chris crawled in back to lay down on the stretcher.
The morning passed amiably enough - a couple of calls that we were
cancelled on during our response. We went to the police station cellblock
to check on a prisoner who claimed that he was having a heart attack. I was
sceptical at first, since the guy was only twenty some-odd years old, his
heart rhythm looked normal, and typically guys try to get out of jail by
complaining of some medical problem. But he was giving me all the right
answers ... until I asked him whether his teeth hurt. This one always gets
'em. They figure - what the hell, if my chest hurts, why not my teeth? As
soon as he started on how much his actual teeth - not his jaw (which is a
valid symptom of cardiac chest pain) were killing him, I realized the boy
was trying to get a few hours out of the cell. I then zoomed in for the
clincher: with a wink to the desk sergeant standing behind me, I turned to
the man and with a dead-serious face, asked him if his _ears_ hurt too,
adding that "it was very important that I know this".
He paused for a moment, then bit:
"Yeah, now that you mention it, my _ears_ hurt too - a burning sensation!
Am I gonna be okay?"
Without another word, I ripped the cardiac monitor wires from his chest,
the adhesive foam sensors taking a few hairs with them. I gathered my
equipment, and left the cellblock, the sergeant looking none too pleased
with the guy. I hurried up the stairs - so I couldn't be called upon as a
witness to an act of police brutality. When I got back to the truck, I
opened the side-door and tossed the equipment back in. Chris was still on
the stretcher - dead to the world. She looked kinda cute while she was
sleeping. I had this urge to climb in back with her. But <sigh> my place
was in front. Reluctantly, I got behind the steering wheel, called
'available' on the radio, and drove back to the parking lot.
About an hour later, we received a call for a 'possible dead body.' I woke
up Chris as I zig-zagged in and out of traffic. I hated to do this, but if
the body turned out to be not quite dead (sorry Victor) we'd both have to
work on the guy. We arrived in front an apartment complex, several police
cruisers already parked on the curb. I grabbed the airway bag and monitor
and Chris told me she'd catch up with me, as she grabbed the drug box and
oxygen tank. As I walked down the hallway to the apartment, a dog bounded
out of one of the rooms further down, barking madly. I stopped and had my
leg halfway back, ready to kick the thing if it felt the urge for some
Oriental. It paid no mind to me, as it flew past me and down the hall. It
was a cute thing, a brown and white pit-bull pup. Damn thing was going to
be huge when it grew up.
As I entered the apartment, a cop approached me, and said "This one's
definitely gone." He stepped aside to let me see the body. The body was of
a mid-to-late twenties male, jeans, boots, no shirt, laying on his back on
the carpetted floor of the apartment. His chest had multiple healed scars -
probably from knife-fights. I couldn't make out what nationality he was
since his face was gone. At first, I thought, for some bizarre reason, that
he was wearing a Halloween mask. Then I realised that it wasn't a mask, but
his exposed skull. His entire face was missing, leaving only a toothy,
grinning skull. This was a new one for me.
Just then, my partner, Chris, showed up. We stood there exchanging a few
what-the-fucks as we stared at the corpse. One of the cops came up to us
and asked us what we thought happened to him.
"Well, he couldn't have shot himself - it would've shattered the skull and
left splatter-marks on the wall." The cop looked - yep, intact skull and
not a drop of blood on the floor or walls.
"And, since there's no blood spill _at all_, whatever happened to him had
to have happened _well_ after he died."
The cop pondered this for a moment, and said:
"Well, if someone tried to remove his face to make identifying him hard,
then he should've cut off his hands and feet too, so I don't think that's a
As we all stood there and stared at the corpse, the dog ran into the room.
"Say," Chris quietly asked, "whose dog is that?"
"Uh, he ran out of the apartment - oh fuck."
Chris then dropped the drug box and ran out of the apartment. I grabbed it
and followed her out of the apartment. She went straight to the ambulance
and opened the side-door and climbed in. I thought she was going back there
to puke, but when I reached the ambulance, I found her vigorously rubbing
her face with a towel soaked in alcohol.
"Fucking dog. I let the fucking dog lick my face in the hallway. Fucking
She kept rubbing her face with the towel - until her face looked red and
raw. I wasn't queesy in the apartment, as the sight of the corpse was too
overwhelming for mere nausea. But as I imagined Chris's face being licked
by a dog that just _ate_ someone else's, I admit I had a few dry heaves.
The rest of the shift was uneventful. Except every hour or so, we drove up
to the hospital so that Chris could wash her face. By the end of the shift
her face was blotchy and dry from all the soap and washing. I shoulda
kicked the damn dog when I had a chance.
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