What the fuck do you want me to do about it?

Code 3 for shortness of breath. At the university, in a classroom.


I think I’ve only ever been to 2 actual medical emergencies at the university. IN YEARS.

We walk into the classroom full of people and find… exactly nothing. Everyone appears healthy.

“Soooo, who called 911?”

“I did,” the instructor speaks up.

“And what for?”

I’m just asking an innocent question, since there obviously is no medical emergency visible to the naked eye.

“She was coughing a lot,” the instructor points toward a student.

“Well, she’s obviously fine.”

“I AM fine,” the student corroborates, “I’ve just had a cough for a few days.”

“Yeah, that’s going around – it took me a month to get over my cough,” I add to the small talk.

“She was coughing so much it was disrupting the class.”

“You couldn’t have asked her to step outside for a second?”


“And instead you called 911?”

“She seemed like she couldn’t breathe,” the instructor weakly offers.

“Did you even ask her if she wanted a 911 response?”


“She did not ask me.”

“And what do you want me to do about this?”


“I’m fine, thanks.”

“We’re leaving.”


Code 3 for fall/ETOH/back pain. It’s 4am and this Saturday night is just not getting any shorter.

I can hear the wailing as I climb up the stairs to the run-down apartment complex. This is going to be a bunch of bullshit.

Dirty apartment. Several children. No one sleeping.

“Hello, ma’am.”

“I fell and my back hurts.”

“I smell a lot of alcohol. Did you have a good night?”

Just trying to break the ice. Even at 4am. Your friendly neighborhood paramedic.

“I had a great night. Not that great after I got home.”

So she fell against a bookcase against the wall from a standing position. Fall is a really strong word for this from what they’re describing; more like backed into the bookcase. I inspect the undamaged bookcase. I look at her back. There is a little red mark on her back. She says her back hurts all over. Including the spine. Great. Huge emergency as usual.

“What hospital you want to go to?”

“I don’t want to go.”

“What? So why are we here then?”

At this moment it’s still a sincere and reasonable question.

“I called you guys,” her son speaks up.

“What for?”

Still sincere.

“I was scared. So I called 911 like I’m supposed to.”

Not sure where he got this fine piece of advice.

“Not necessarily. So what can we do for you then?”

Now it’s rhetorical.

“I thought you were going to help her.”

Help her with what exactly?

“We are. You call us, we take her to the hospital. That’s how it works.”

Like I’m going cut refusal paperwork on a drunk moron who fell down and has spine pain.

“OK,” the woman agrees to the transport surprisingly quickly. Thank god.

“I’m glad you’ve agreed, ma’am. Thank you.”

Much easier this way.

She is strapped to the longboard. This immobilization shit cannot go away soon enough. Fucking administrators and desk jockeys have no spine. (Oh hey, that’s a pun.)

“You’re an asshole,” the son bravely states, probably with some liquid courage.

“What’s that?”

Of course I heard him the first time.

“I’m sorry, but you’re an asshole.”

I love how people are just brave enough to insult us but not brave enough to leave out the qualifier.

Now 6 of us are no longer looking at the patient and are slowly closing in on him in this small apartment. The rest of his relatives and/or friends watch silently. Wise move, unlike numbnuts here.

“You don’t get to call us names. Especially at 4 in the morning. What makes me an asshole?”

He’s beginning to realize his mistake as our shadows grow on him.

“I, I don’t mean all of you. Just him. When he, uh, asked why we called.”

Still closing in on him.

“She didn’t want to go to the hospital. You wanted her to go. I talked her into going. She’s going now. Isn’t that what you wanted?”

“You didn’t have to be a dick,” he weakly insists.

“Alright dude, you got the result you wanted. Think about that.”

I stop advancing and remember that I just want this call over as soon as possible so we can all go back to sleep. We all stand down.

Since I’m such an asshole, we carry her down the stairs on the longboard. More unnecessary strain on our backs. The female EMT mumbles under her breath on the way down, “I guess we’re not taking any riders.”

We load the patient in the ambulance.

“Can I go with her?”

Wow, this guy is really an idiot.


“Called it,” says the female EMT with a big grin.

Proof that the pain scale is stupid

I’m at an autism spectrum disorder talk and someone pointed out that the Wong-Baker Faces pain scale does not work when assessing autistic children.

Without thinking, in a room full of multidisciplinary personnel, I blurted out, “I don’t think it works with anyone!”

The room instantly erupted in certain laughter.

That is my totally nonscientific, anecdotal evidence that the pain scale is stupid.

Not something I’d do, but…

Kenneth Hallenbeck, a Brevard County Fire Rescue firefighter/paramedic, was fired for flipping a patient off the gurney and criminally charged.

So, I am absolutely not defending Hallenbeck. I am merely pointing out that someone appears to be perfectly able to walk. The story alleges that someone was asked to get off the gurney at triage and refused. Hmm.

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

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