Be well. Practice big medicine.

Newman | The Positive Paramedic Project #32 Don’t take yourself too seriously

A nugget of EMS organizational wisdom every day.#32 Don’t take yourself too seriously

A few decades back, we rolled on a call that was horrendously humorous. Initial information was for humanitarian assistance. This usually meant a non-medical intervention. Put someone back into bed. Assist in shopping for food. Social contact. Verify quality of life. A moment away from the seams of the world.

We arrived and found the lights off and the door open. Because we had received the call for ‘humanitarian assistance’ and because we were stupid and because we believed A Higher Power was smiling down upon our blissfully ignorant heads, we decided to proceed. Adrenalin pumping and stupid cells circulating, we cracked the door open another few inches and stabbed at the darkness with our mag lights.

Elwood called out, “Hello. Is there anyone there?”

We both heard this low moaning voice. “(Expletive) Aaaargh.” This didn’t sound like any humanitarian assistance call I’d ever rolled on.

The common sense cells suddenly received oxygen. We called for police assistance. Unfortunately, right after the oxygen began flowing the Messiah Syndrome intervened. If you’ve been on the job for a while you know about the Messiah Syndrome. Human sacrifice. Where you actually believe that it’s necessary for you to put your life in jeopardy in order to save another life. It’s very dangerous and is usually the result of poor data intelligence gathering skills.

We both decided—not one trying to convince the other as is usually the case but both of us processing the same information and reaching the same silly conclusion simultaneously—that someone might need our help immediately. So we continued exploring this urban cave.

Elwood was engaged. I went first. I don’t know what would have happened if we were both plural. Probably roll dice.

What I saw in the first room of the hallway immediately induced high pucker factor. There were two legs splayed apart. They came from under the bed. Elwood leaned down and whispered, “Hello.” I touched an ankle. It was February cold and rock solid. This was not good.

So far we had one dead person and we were on a non-emergency call. Body counts usually abort The Messiah Syndrome. But in our case The Stupidity Factor was overwhelmingly high.

We were very unhappy campers. I flattened out against the wall (if you ever met me back in the day, you’d know this was pretty darned near impossible) and pushed further down the hall. We heard the voice again.

“Arrgh. (Expletive).”

My vertebrae snapped crackled and popped. The voice was coming from the kitchen. Elwood passed me the Oxygen cylinder. True partner’s compassion—you go first, but you can carry this bulky aluminum cylinder.

Elwood said he’d flip on the lights as I swung into the diningroom. Which would bring me into line with the kitchen. But still afford me the cover of one of those old console colour televisions. The script read like the very worst of those Slash Horror Films: scary monster in the basement with a history of ripping peoples’ heads off—cool—let’s go downstairs and see if he needs a friend.

Elwood counted aloud. “One… two… three!” He flipped on the lights. With all the grace of a tranquilizer-darted rhino, I jumped into the diningroom.

Can you pee with relief? Dogs do. I very nearly did.

Lying in the middle of the kitchen floor next to the telephone and two empty bottles of JD was a double amputee. He was really quite happy to see us.

“Arrgh. Put me back in my (expletive) chair and bring me my (expletive) legs from the (expletive) bedroom.”


Be well. Practice big medicine.


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