She’s still pretending to be dead

Echo for unconscious, not breathing.

“M12, your patient is now breathing.”

In other words, she was never not breathing.

A Spanish-speaking woman in her 60s is lying on the floor with pillows under her head. Looks like a duck, feels like a duck…

Her family – and there are a lot of them – says that there was a “heated” discussion before the woman sat on the couch and stopped talking.

“We got scared and thought she wasn’t breathing.”

I can see why the American Heart Association stopped asking people to check breathing. Apparently no one knows what breathing looks like even though everyone knows how to breathe.

The woman is still feigning unresponsiveness. I’m completely over it. Check that – I was over it when the “now breathing” update came earlier.

“What hospital?” I lazily ask.

“Does she need to go to the hospital?”

There is no question that sets me off more in these situations – you know, dumbshit psych/anxiety/drama calls that seem to always involve chest pain/shortness of breath/unresponsiveness. Obviously she doesn’t need the fucking hospital. But, (a) she’s still pretending to be dead*, and (b) for such stupidity they should be inconvenienced a little. Besides, it’s not like they have such important matters as curing cancer to get back to. If someone is doing anything important, usually s/he doesn’t let some idiotic drama interrupt.

“You cannot call 911 and tell us someone’s dead so we drop everything to rush over here and then when we get here say everything’s fine and you don’t need to go to the hospital. This is not how it works.”

“We were just scared.”

“Well, she’s still pretending to be dead. So tell her to knock it off and get on the gurney!”

*I just love how even old people are so fucking immature

Everyone with history of seizures needs ambulance and ED

Code 2 for ETOH. At the downtown mental health clinic.

A woman in her 30s is sitting in a room, crying. She’s on a psych hold.

Apparently she drove drunk to the clinic for a regular appointment after having a bunch of alcohol. So the psych staff placed on her a psych hold. Which doesn’t make any sense. Apparently cops aren’t the only ones who don’t understand what a psych hold is.

“Shouldn’t you be calling the cops out here for the DUI instead?”*

“She has a history of seizures, so we called 911 for an ambulance.”

Mishearing her, I ask, “You put her on a psych hold because she has a history of seizures?”

“No, we called 911 because of her history of seizures.”

“Well, neither one of those makes any sense.”

*Not that I believe any cop is going to write her a ticket

A-hole: Lay low

A reader sent me this news segment from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. It is a pretty damn good one.

What is it that causes people, many of them, in fact, to think that it’s OK to drive on a suspended license without insurance while not even trying to keep a low profile, starting with not committing a simple traffic violation?

Personally, I think the debate over capital punishment is misplaced. Sometimes in my fantasies, I think maybe we should put to death assholes like this one in the video who do asshole things. Not every murderer is an asshole, certainly no more an asshole than a person who shows up on a video like that, or that Florida road rage guy.

I bet no one would miss these assholes. We know the death penalty doesn’t deter hardened criminals, but it sure will deter assholes and asshole behavior.

Who says you have to be smart to be a doctor?*

Code 3 for leg cramps. I’ll let you read the call notes instead of repeating the radio dispatch. I copied and pasted the notes because I was unable to bring myself to type this garbage.


What. The. Fuck.

Because it’s second-hand info, it’s non-triaged. Because it’s non-triaged, MPDS says it’s Delta. So it’s lights and sirens.

I’m not MPDS so I’m not responding lights and sirens. I dare them to fire me. So we drive VERY SAFELY over to this location for this bullshit.

Apparently this is a mobile medical clinic for the unbelievably large homeless population that this city hosts. A county-run clinic. A county-run clinic that is now overtaxing a county-overseen EMS system. An EMS system that is stretched to the limit. Stretched to the limit by endless bullshit calls. Like this bullshit call. These two bullshit patients.

The physician in charge of the clinic greets us, and at least he’s not so stupid that he can’t see that I am not hiding my displeasure with him.

“You people couldn’t arrange a van or something to drive them and you had to call 911 for what is obviously not an emergency?”


“You’re a county program that is abusing the EMS system exactly like the idiots the county, your employer, is actively trying to discourage from calling 911? You know the hot new topic in public health is how to get people to stop calling 911 and going to the ED, right? So all along your transport plan for these patients is to call 911? Why even have this clinic then? Why don’t you just stay home and tell them to call 911 directly?”

*Obviously, I meet a lot of doctors at work – at hospitals, clinics, concerts, first aid stations, etc. Oh, and the EMS medical directors who do nothing but cause me headaches. Let me just say that the notion that only very smart people can be doctors was long ago shattered into a gazillion pieces.

Go back to fucking bed

Code 2 for numb finger. It’s 3am.

You have got to be fucking kidding me.

Two minutes later…

“M18, the caller is requesting cancellation.”

You don’t have to ask twice. Good thing we haven’t left the station yet.

I can only imagine that conversation between the caller and the dispatcher. I know if I was taking that call there’d be all kinds of awkward pauses. And hopefully no profanity.


Code 2 for allergic reaction to meds. At the drug rehab. Again. It’s 4am.

A “client” is sitting in the lobby. As usual.

“I took my meds and my face feels numb.”

Psych meds.

“You can feel me touching your face, right?”


“So what do you mean by numb?”

“My fingers feel numb too.”

I leave the room. I can’t take this place. I hear the staff behind me.

“Sorry but we had to call. We’re not doctors.”

“Hey, do you guys EVER tell your ‘clients’ to just go back to bed instead of calling for EVERY little thing they say is wrong with them?”

I got schooled by a 19-year-old

I’m getting coffee. On duty. Yes, that happens. Leave me alone.

The young woman behind the counter asks me how my day is going.

“Well, I’m at work, unfortunately.” I fake a sigh.

I say this all the time, half-serious, half-joking. It reflects the ambivalent nature of my feelings toward my work. I love my work, but often it is unbelievably aggravating. I doubt there is a single emergency service person who disagrees.

“If you don’t like what you’re doing, you should do something else!”

She says this with some edge. Perhaps a little too much edge for a person making another person’s coffee.

If only it is that simple, little girl.

I let it slide.

If only in the real world you can just do whatever you want and quit whenever you want.

I’ll check back with her in 10 years.

You call, we haul. Now get in the friggin' ambulance.

%d bloggers like this: