Newman | The Positive Paramedic Project #83 Good Sam

Baltimore County Fire Academy

A nugget of Big Medicine every day. #83 Good Sam

When I was younger I used to love roadtripping and mixtapes.

A number of years ago – back when car stereos still featured cassette players – I was driving from Montreal to South Florida. I had left immediately after finishing a day shift and hoped to watch the sunrise over Maryland before pausing to catch some zzzz’s somewhere in Virginia.

My uniform was tucked into the back of the pickup cab and my trauma gear and airway kit was stowed in the box. I had loaded up a backpack with enough mixtapes recorded on Maxell 90 cassettes to carry me all the way to the beaches of Ft Lauderdale and back home again. The first day on the road went mostly according to plan. There were some traffic slowdowns in Jersey but there always seemed to be traffic jams in Jersey.  I had even accounted for the probability by crafting three mixtapes of slower jazz tunes just in case I needed to unwind while doing the bumper jive.

I caught up on my sleep and got back on the road late in the evening.

By the time dawn was breaking, I had crossed the Georgia line and was rolling down 95 in light to non-existent traffic. The weather had transitioned from clear skies to a steady soupy wind out of the West and the feeling that wicked weather would overtake me sooner than later.

I was enjoying the music on the Georgia One mixtape and didn’t notice the State Trooper on my six until he lit me up with his flashing headlights. Damn. I glanced at my speedometer as I hit my hazard lights and looked for a safe spot to pull over onto the shoulder. No question it was going to be expensive.

I parked as far off the highway as I could get so we wouldn’t be too exposed to traffic . I rolled down the driver’s side window, prepared my papers – driver’s permit in my left hand, registration and insurance in my right hand and put my hands on the top of the steering wheel.

As the Trooper came up on my truck he looked hard into the box and then into the back of the cab before stepping up just behind my left shoulder. “You on the job, son?”

“No, sir,” knowing he was asking if I was in law enforcement. “I’m an off-duty paramedic on the way to visit friends in Florida.”

“Slow it down. If there’s a crash between you and the Florida line, I’ll expect that you’ll be stopping to lend a hand.” It wasn’t a question.

“Yes, sir.”

“Play it safe. Have a good trip.”

Whew.

I gathered my paperwork and then eased back onto 95. I kept the speed limit dialed in and popped in another cassette.

The weather went to hell shortly thereafter and I drove into a line of tremendous thunderstorms complete with howling winds, large hail and far-too-frequent lightning. Scary stuff.

90 minutes later I was nearing the Florida line when I came across an overturned RV in the median. I was alone on the scene. Three seriously injured occupants. I got my gear and did my best until the local fire and EMS services arrived. It was a long while before I had company out there.

The third or fourth emergency vehicle on-scene was the State Trooper who had pulled me over up the road. I couldn’t imagine this was still his sector.

“When I heard the call I just knew you’d be here,” he said.

He gave me his card and told me to send him a list of all the gear I had used – which was pretty much everything in my trauma bag and airway kit. When I got back home to Montreal, I sent him the list. A few weeks later, a box arrived containing every single item on the list and a note.

“Thanks for keeping the faith, brother.”

Practice big medicine.

Hal

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