Be well. Practice big medicine.

Newman | The Positive Paramedic Project #85 Shoes

A nugget of Big Medicine every day. #85 Shoes

Like the detritus left by high tide after an intense storm, there are usually clues left at the scene of a particularly brutal interface between victim and paramedics.

Little bundles of latex gloves, torn wrappers of trauma dressings, ecg pad backings, and sometimes a dark stain on the pavement. Gloves, hats, purses, backpacks mark the patient’s sudden and unexpected encounter with EMS.

But of all the artifacts left to linger, it is the shoes I find most disturbing. I guess it’s because we tie our shoes on, we zip them up, we purposefully slip our feet inside – there’s a sense our shoes are a part of our lives. There’s a permanence attached to our shoes.

A silk necktie and one very expensive right foot wingtip shoe at the scene of a downtown stabbing.

A bloodied motorcycle boot cut off with paramedic shears and left by the side of the highway. The broken glass and metal swept clean and the boot somehow unseen in the too-high grass and weeds.

A pair of Prada pumps left to ruin indelicately in the rain after a taxi was broadsided by a DUI armed with a SUV. I remember those because my partner remarked those shoes were worth more than the monthly rent on her apartment.

The shoes I remember most were a pair of white high-top Nikes.

They were in the middle of the road at the top of the slope leading down into an underpass on Westminster Avenue in Cote Saint-Luc.

The Nikes belonged to a teen who was wearing them as he darted across the street and was blindsided by a car moving just a little bit faster than the 50 kmh speed limit. The impact was ferocious. The motorist locked up the brakes just inches before the front bumper made contact with the kid. The car came to a stop roughly 40 feet later.

The teen was launched out of his shoes and into the air. He flew upward and forward. Failure to defy the law of gravity can be devastating without a parachute or safety net. Such was the case for the patient. Our medics had declared a major trauma patient and instructed the inbound ambulance to keep rolling hot.

Hours later as police officers reconstructed the scene those Nikes stayed out in the middle of the road.

They were pristine and looked like they had just come out of the box. The laces were still tied. Those Nikes looked like they were ready to be pushed off on for a three-point shot just as the buzzer sounded to end the game.

They were almost perfect.

Be well. Practice big medicine.





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