Be well. Practice big medicine.

Newman | The Positive Paramedic Project #11 When everyone shares a goal, everyone has a role.

A nugget of EMS organizational wisdom every day. #11 When everyone shares a goal, everyone has a role.

Yesterday morning at 07h30 our big black dog, Mateo, began barking very aggressively. He was tied out on the back porch where he provides a measure of security for our laying hens as they take their morning wander . When we heard him going ballistic we immediately thought there was some type of predator making a run at the chickens.

A quick look outside and we were stunned to see a large Black Angus who had crossed the fence line from the neighbouring farm. He was staring down Mateo who, quite clearly, had not done any type of serious risk-benefit analysis and was in hackles-up full-out barking defense-of-the-house mode.

With Mateo safely inside the house, I headed over to the Roy Farm to tell J-P one of his cows was in our garden. He was gone for the day and his wife sent me home with a bucket full of feed and instructions on how to lead the cow back through the hole in the fence.  With ignorance and bliss as my travel companions, I went out into the field to try and bring the beastie home as if it was a big wayward dog.

This was one of those moments I have referred to in the course of my EMS career as ‘God smiled while Darwin laughed out loud’ and because they each have a sense of humour I survived.

Time has a habit of slowing down for me in these critical moments. The precise moment the big animal took note of me waving the feed pail around and began running in my direction was the exact same moment that I noticed:

a] he was a bull

b] he seemed very agitated about being separated from his lady friends, and

c] he seemed intent on taking his anger out on me

To his credit, the bull covered the distance that had separated us astonishingly quickly. To my credit, I was already gone when he arrived.

My farmer friends Dany Brus, Lindsey Brus-Peterson and Howard Peterson had provided me with all kinds off advice about dealing with bulls – most of which can be summed-up by saying: Don’t ever turn your back on them, leave them the heck alone, and what the heck were you thinking in the first place to be in a field with a bull.

The bull headed back toward the house to look for me at the same time Di was sending Emma out the front door to cut through the woods to her school bus stop. I arrived back at the house pretty much at the same moment when the bull decided it might be  a good idea to follow Emma out onto the road. Di hopped into our little Mazda5 [Rodeo edition] and took off to protect Emma while I ran down the driveway on foot.

I ran out into a surreal scene. Di and several other motorists had used their vehicles to try and corral the bull and prevent him from running over a highway overpass and into town. Emma had made a mad dash to her school bus and was happily leaving the insanity of life in the country for the relative quiet of high school.

While successful in preventing the bull from visiting town – which would probably have resulted in his early demise, Mr Bull decided to take the path of least resistance and with me, Di, Mrs Roy and two Good Sams in tow began walking up a road leading to an industrial park. He stopped at the first driveway and trotted into a large cement handling/storage facility. One of the semi-drivers was having one of my moments and thought it might be a good idea to try and pat the bull when he came close. The bull apparently didn’t think much of the idea and whirled his whole body around in the air so he was head-on with the truck driver. Looking much younger than the 60 something years I had given him, the trucker leapt up onto the cab of his truck and out of the way of Mr Bull.

Mrs. Roy tried calling Mr Bull while waving the feed pail. She tried this tactic because she didn’t work with the cows very often and, because, she wasn’t in the field when I tried doing the same thing. It didn’t go well. The bull ran in her direction. She screamed, dropped much of the feed, and ran into the adjoining field. Mr Bull wandered around the cement facility, alternately munching on dropped feed and charging at anyone who even looked at him the wrong way. Di took off in the car to the Roy Farm to get another bucket of feed.

One of the Good Sams was holding a steel pipe and the other had a snow brush in his hand. They were both picking up rocks from the roadway to use as weapons of last resort. The snow brush guy told me his name was Mathieu and his family had ‘nice cows’ – a herd of 60 Holsteins. I told him I didn’t know anything about cows or bulls except what Howard, Lindsey & Dany had told me. We compared notes.  He told me the advice I had been given was sound – and showed me where there were more rocks that could be gathered.

Having tired of terrifying the guys at the cement facility and deciding to ignore Mrs. Roy’s pleas to go home, Mr Bull once again took an interest in me. I hadn’t noticed he was moving in my direction until Mathieu told me to keep a steady distance between me and Mr Bull and see if I could lead him back toward his home. My first thought isn’t repeatable here. I looked up and sure enough Mr Bull was ambling towards me.

By the way, a bull can cover ground pretty fast at a mere amble. It’s really quite impressive especially if you’ve only ever seen them out standing in their fields looking quite bullish.

I took off at a slow jog with Mr Bull keeping pace about a 100 yards back. I figured I’d make the turn towards home and hope Mr Bull would find his own way back to his farm. Now, by the time we got to the intersection there were two semi-trailers blocking access to the overpass and several pickup trucks which formed a steel wall forcing Mr Bull back onto the road home. All these people had become involved without so much as an informal invitation [there wasn’t time], without any type of command structure, and without any official guidance.

Of course, given everything you know thus far, you know Mr Bull didn’t just head home. Mrs. Roy reappeared with more feed and so he charged after her intent on getting to the food in her hand. She screamed and got behind a highway sign post in the ditch with Mr Bull right there – more agitated than ever.

You can’t make this stuff up because truth is far stranger than fiction.

I was standing there, hands full of rocks, surrounded by guys in pickup trucks – trying to figure out how we were going to extricate Mrs. Roy from Mr Bull’s path, when a woman pulled up in a late-model VW sedan. She got out and switched her high heels for a pair of more suitable flats and then reached into the backseat for a few bags of doggie treats. And then she, unbelievably, led Mr Bull down the road to our driveway by dropping doggie treats in front of his nose. And he followed. And then Mr Bull was back in our yard.

With Mathieu’s help and with a bunch more Good Sams in pickup trucks providing emergency driveway and road closure, we cut a new hole in the fenceline and successfully re-introduced Mr Bull to his home turf advantage. Mathieu called one of his hired hands to our place and they repaired the new cut and the original hole in the fenceline.

And that’s the story of how Mr Bull came for an unexpected visit and was successfully brought home by a group of strangers who came together with a common goal and found an essential role for everyone who wanted to become involved.

When everyone shares a goal, everyone has a role.

Be well. Practice big medicine.


And for those of you interested in the use of social media for emergency management #SMEM, people used their smart phones to call a veterinarian for help, to track down Mr Roy, to seek advice on getting Mr Bull back into his field, to bring more assistance to the scene and to take lots of pictures.






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