Ate some bugs

Code 2 for “ate some bugs.” It’s 1am.


A 7-year-old is sitting on the couch in a tidy home. He says he’s fine. He certainly looks fine.

“What’s up, buddy?”



His parents explain that he was eating some cereal in a bowl when they noticed “worms” in the cereal box. We let the fact that the kid was eating cereal at 1am on a school night pass without comment.

Or the fact that the cereal was so old that waxworms got a hold of it.

“We were just worried.”

“Worried about what exactly?”

“Just worried about the worms.”

As you can see, there are lots of opportunities for us to say something stupid.

“If he says he’s fine, I wouldn’t worry about it. That’s assuming he actually ate a worm in the first place. Seeing worms in the box doesn’t equal eating worms out of the bowl.”

“Oh, OK.”

They don’t sound convinced, but I don’t expect them to.

“I understand that it’s gross, but plenty of people in the world eat bugs and worms as a way of life, you know. So he’ll be fine, and if he’s not, you can take him to see a doctor yourselves. Good night.”

What is it that causes people to see their children as so precious that worms in a cereal box is such a huge, wake-the-paramedics-up emergency?

Two bottles

Code 2 for back pain.

A woman in her 50s is sitting on her bed and crying. Her family is there. She has had back pain for a week and was prescribed Oxycodone and Ibuprofen 4 days ago.

“I want her to go to the hospital to get a shot.”

It always amuses me that so many people think getting “a shot” is the answer to everything. Hypervents and anxiety attacks demand “shots” all the time too.

Already guessing what’s happening here, I make a half-hearted – because I know it’s vain – attempt to guide them to a better way to care for themselves.

“She didn’t take any of the medications she was prescribed, did she?”

“Just one.”

“You know they prescribe the medications so you have a chance at managing the pain at home. If you don’t even use it, then why even get the prescriptions filled?”

“So should we go get a shot?”


I hold up the Oxycodone, which feels full, “This stuff is pretty strong. You know, some people would kill you for it. Has she taken any of this?”

“No, she thinks it upsets her stomach.”

“So she didn’t even try it?”


“So how does she know if it’s going to upset her stomach?”


Moving on…

“How about this – the Ibuprofen?”

I’m holding this bottle she was prescribed in my left hand.


“She took one of those but it upset her stomach, so she stopped.”

“Sometimes there are side effects, but the point is to manage the pain.”

“She just can’t take this one. She’s been taking a few of these instead. Here.”

He hands me a bottle. I receive it with my right hand.


I’m having a hard time believing what just happened. I look at my left hand. I look at my right hand. THEY’RE BOTH FUCKING IBUPROFEN!

“Sir, they’re the same,” I manage to force out without including words that would get me fired.

“Look, that one’s 600 and this one’s 200.”

“Yeah, but you just told me she’s been taking a few of the 200s.”


“That’s it. I’m done talking here. What hospital?”

This has got to be the line of the year

Code 3 for rectal bleed. At the drug rehab. Nearly midnight.

A male in his 20s is sitting in the office, in no apparent distress, as usual.

“All this for me?”

We just drove code 3 for this guy for no good outward reason. Don’t piss me off with stupid comments like that.

“That’s what happens when you call 911. What are we here for?”

“I have hemorrhoids and it ripped, so it just bleeds when I wipe.
Can’t I just get a ride from my girl?”

“I don’t see why not.”

“Well, they won’t let me.”

These drug rehabs are so stupid sometimes. I’m sure it’s their “policy.” It’s not uncommon for these “clients” to be in rehab because of conditions of their sentencing, so these facilities are responsible for keeping them there, but really, these are adults, and if they don’t want to act like adults – well, hey, adulthood comes with choices, and choices come with consequences.

“Are you here as part of a court arrangement?”


“That’s probably why.”

I wait for the only staff member present to get off the phone.

“Why can’t he get a ride from his girlfriend?”

I already know he’s not going to be allowed to get a ride, but I ask anyway, just to make a point. The point being how ridiculous this situation is.

I have to amuse myself somehow.

“The director said it’s either 911 or wait until tomorrow.”

“What’s tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow, daytime, we have transportation for him. He said it hurt, so we called you guys tonight.”

“Alright, let’s go.”

There you have it, the line of the year, “It’s either 911 or wait
until tomorrow.”

Two polls

Just a little silliness:

“I broke both my legs!”

Code 2 for leg injury.

A fit-looking male is supine on the ground next to his car in the driveway, writhing in pain.

“I think I broke my legs!”

“Um… both?”

“Yeah! They hurt real bad!”

I can see that they plainly aren’t broken. I feel around. I touch patients.

“So what were you doing?”

“I was lifting weights at the gym. I drove home and couldn’t get out of the car.”

“Heavy weights?”

“Pretty heavy.”

“Leg workouts?”


“You work out regularly?”

“Yeah. Help me!”

I bend his legs at the knees and push hard, stretching his quads. He screams. Loud. People on the street turn to stare.

And then he quiets down after 7 seconds.

“Oh! The pain is better now!”

“You had cramps, dude.”

Difference in word order

Good day: Eat lunch without interruption, get coffee, run some good, legitimate calls. You know, help some people who truly need help.

“I can’t believe we actually get paid to do this. This is pretty cool.”

Bad day: No food the whole day, get up 5 times after midnight, run dumbshit vomitings, anxiety attacks, psych holds, drunks, drug rehab don’t-feel-goods, insuritis neck pain. You know, babysit some dipshit whiners who need nothing but a slap upside the head.

“I can’t believe we get paid to actually do this. This is fucking bullshit.”

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

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