Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Strange life as an EMT

I worked in a volunteer crisis unit as an EMT with a big city fire dept. It is a special unit that helps on certain calls so the the responding police and fire units can do their jobs and get back into service quickly. We would handle murders, codes, suicides, fires, mental health patients, and traffic accidents. In short, we basically handled the people so the firefighters could do their job.

Before I became a volunteer I had several friends that were firefighters and they would keep me rolling with laughter with their stories and I would think "They have to be making this up!" After a year of working with the unit I knew from personal experience that they were not. It is incredible some of the stupid things people do. It has given me the experience to meet some amazing people, see some crazy stuff, and meet people from all walks of life. Names and some details have been omitted to protect the privacy of those described below.

On scene of a fatal car accident I was hanging out with a tiny female police officer while my partner was dealing with an upset driver that caused the accident. The officer and I were just chatting and I remarked to her that I couldn't believe she, as tiny as she was, was an officer. She laughed and we kept on chatting about calls, life, and work. Next thing I know some knuckle head had somehow gotten by the very obvious crime scene tape and was driving towards us at the scene. She had her back to the driver and I gave her a heads up. Well she whipped around and started yelling like a banshee at the driver and reamed him a new one. After she was done with him she came back over to me and sweetly said "Now what was I talking about?" I just looked at her and said "OK, Now I know how you are able to be an officer and remind me to never piss you off!" We were laughing for a bit after that one.

I get called out to a code (a patient that needs CPR). We get there and the officers there tell us that they called it and were waiting for the medical examiner (ME). We had to go in and deal with the patients mother and help her with information, what was going to happen, and find a friend to come over to take care of her. After we got her taken care of we had to wait for the ME to show up. Strangest thing I thought I would never experience in my life was sitting there in the living room with everyone else and there is the patients body laying there in the middle of the floor with a sheet over it. Don't get me wrong as we were respectful but we couldn't do anything but wait there.

We get an assistance call from a neighboring city fire dept. They didn't give us any information as to what they needed so we were flying blind and curious was to what it was about. When we got there the fire engine crew was standing there with a homeless guy. They were in front of a grocery store and he was munching on some food the firefighters had bought from the store for him. Short story was his stuff was stolen during the night and they wanted us to take care of him. We talked with him for a while and convinced him to allow us to take him to a shelter. He was standing there with dirty clothes but had on a pair of crystal white socks. He was telling us that his stuff and shoes were stolen and he was upset about that. We know from experience that one of the most valuable items for a street person is a good pair of shoes. I admired his socks and asked of the firefighters had given him a pair. He said "No, I like to wear clean socks." He was a happy guy and was content with living on the street. He was totally different from what you would imagine a street person would be like. He was friendly, chatty, a bit ripe, but overall a nice guy.

We get called out to the bad side of town for an overdose. When we get there we see that they have the patient already at the hospital and the officer shows us where the girlfriend is. Bracing ourselves for an upset, possibly drugged out, girlfriend we start doing our thing and the girlfriend is actually doing much better than we expected. She was chatting like it was a regular day and her friends were on the phone ordering pizza and asked us if we wanted some and what we would like on our pizza. I had to do a double take but nicely refused and thanked them for their offer. Uh, I would think that a normal person would be biting at the bit to get to the hospital or at least be wondering how the patient was doing. She never asked. Weird!!!!!!

We were called out to the scene of a fire and our computer gizmo that gives us directions to the location was being a cranky brat. We got to the general area but had to look at street signs and make guesses to get where we were going. We could see and smell smoke but where was another story. As we are looking around, making multiple U-turns, and trying to figure out a way to get to the fire the bigwig chief passes us. Later on he passes us again. Later on he passes us again. After that he pulls up behind us and follows us just as we finally figured out where we were going. When I got out of the van he came up to us and said "Thanks, I thought I would never get here because my stupid gizmo is being a brat!" I laughed and said ours was also but glad to be of help. I am sure some neighbors were wondering why 2 fire units kept going up and down the street.

Early one morning we get called for a "Frequent Flyer". Frequent flyer is someone who repeatedly calls 911 even though there is no emergency. Before we even get out of the van a very large, think bodybuilder large, captain comes up to us and says "You gotta do something about this lady. She is driving me nuts, won't listen to me, and I have only had 2 hours sleep. We have been here several times in the past and she won't quit calling us." He was mad and I know from experience that you don't want to make a captain mad, especially if he has been working back-to-back calls. We went inside the house and sitting there in a recliner is a little tiny 90 yr. old lady. We asked her what is the problem and she said "He is being mean to me and I need to go to the hospital and he won't take me." Before I could say anything the captain started talking to her and she is arguing back and then she stands up and the two of them are arguing back and forth like two kids. Trying to keep a straight face and not laugh I finally get a word in and get her to calm down and told the captain that we would handle it and that he and his crew could go home. We talked with her for an hour and patiently explained as clearly as we could the rules of calling 911. We ended up putting in a request for adult services, made her lunch, and went on our way. Wish I had a picture of those two arguing.

There are many other stories and some of them are in THIS post.

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