Sunday, February 14, 2010

Stoplight Fire Drills

It was night time, some time around 2100 on a warm summer evening, and we were on our way back from a good intent call sitting at a stoplight. I was in the back again because my partner was training to drive and the real driver had to sit in the front. I was actually in my final phases of charge/aid training, still a bit nervous when it came to running calls after having taken such a large break from that task.

“County to Ambulance, the PD are requesting you for a mental health call”

Well this would be a first even though after working for three years one would have expected to have this already under the belt. My crew of three then proceeds to do our own little fire drill, me moving to the front, our real driver moving to driving, and my partner getting into the back. I wish there had been a video of us, it would have been priceless.

A quick lights and sirens trip later we are going down a friendly neighborhood street, looking for the address and a police car. About this time I start noticing residents standing on the side of the street. Well that is a little odd.

I finally see the blue and red lights of a police car, switching from navigator to EMT, going over my check list in my head. I take a closer look at the police car, or I should say cars, ahead of us blocking the street. I lose count at eight as we park and and I am immediately greeted by an officer who proceeds to rattle off what they PD has done so far. Tasered and maced? Multiple times? Without flinching?

As we tromp down the street, I find my patient pinned to the ground in a front lawn by no less than seven police officers. Apparently he had been running down the street. As I start my assessment, I find him conscious with no airway or breathing issues and only minor cuts. And that he is hand cuffed, shackled and has taser prongs still in his back.

Oh, did I mention he is completely naked too?

After taser prong removal by the PD and a quick packaging in the Reeve’s stretchers, my partner and I climb in the back with an officer to start getting vitals. Or at least trying. His carotid was surprisingly hard to find seeing as he appeared to be healthy and in good shape, though the high pulse rate somewhere around 130 bmp played into this, and his blood pressure was not possible unless a limb was uncuffed. I was not really willing to do that with only one officer in the back. By the way, pulse oximeters work on toes.

A quick call to the Hospital later with a request for security at the door, we were on our way, lights and sirens courtesy of our driver not wanting this trip to take any longer than necessary, both for our and his sake.

His eyes were wide and excited as I kept him focused on me as I tried to ask questions between his professions of “I love you, I love you, I love you” in whispers to me and comments about “Daddy” to either my partner or the officer. Had he taken anything this evening? I got an ever changing list of drugs. Where was he from? Florida! Why was he here? School! What school? We got about five, all in the area.

His mental status was definitely altered, most likely because of any combination of drugs he was on and from our guess it was something pretty strong. With a high pulse and what was becoming very flushed skin, I was beginning to get worried that he would need more than just a night in the hospital to come down, but something stronger to keep him from overheating, having a sky high heart rate, or seriously injuring himself by struggling at some point.

We roll into the Hospital, met by the security and immediately get a room, which is nice change of pace, even if the circumstances are not. The hand off goes smoothly as I give my report, safely delivering my patient with no more injuries than when I first found him. It occurs to me then that this could have been much worse for both of us. Not once during the time we were on scene or when we were in the back of the ambulance did he struggle, lash out, or fight. He was utterly calm and with what drugs I was thinking he was on, its impressive that he did not have an outburst in our presence. I am not sure three of us could have held him down if he had gotten off of the stretcher and I am sure the process would have injured him too.

As I finish my written report, I overhear the doctor talking to our much calmed down and almost alert patient.

“What did you take?”

“Mushrooms.” By the way, this was not one of the drugs he told me he had taken.

“Did you know your dealer?”


“You might want to know your dealer. You got more than just mushrooms.”

I really do hope he felt better the next morning.

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