Don’t stop on the highway

Code 3 for a 36-year-old male “shaking/feeling faint.” On the side of the interstate. In a white Civic.

Fine, if the guy is driving, I accept that he may feel like he’s not going to be able to drive and he pulled over. That being said, the side of the highway is an awfully – and dangerously – stupid place to pull over.

From half a mile away I can see that the front passenger door is open.

“Motherfucker, he’s got a driver!”

And the Civic is stopped 100 yards before the off-ramp. Thankfully – the only thing they did right – they are all the way over in the right shoulder, almost on the unpaved grass and mud.

Opportunity to pursue other options, next exit.

I’m getting pissed. This guy had better be fucking dying for us to respond to the side of the highway. In a car. Feet from tons of metal flying by at unnatural speed.

We stop behind the car, using the rig to protect our working area, praying to any deity who will listen to keep us from getting hit by someone too busy texting to hold the steering wheel.

I step off and can already see that the passenger looks fine. I’m pissed. One cop arrives and sets up behind us.

I look at him, “He’s got a driver!”

He instantly knows what I mean, shakes his head and smirks, “Idiots.”

All thoughts of customer service went out the window as soon as I lay eyes on the normal-appearing patient and his driver. I don’t believe in blind they-are-always-right customer service, but I’m also not proud to say this – it’s a good thing Alan Brunacini isn’t here on this call with us. In my mental flowchart I actually skip the assessment and go straight to bemused admonishment.

Me: You two couldn’t find a better place to stop?

Driver: Uh, he told me to pull over.

Me: Why?

Passenger: Because I was shaking.

Me: I don’t see any shaking.

Passenger: I’m shaking inside.

Me: <Biting tongue/silence>

Me: You see that off-ramp right in front of you?

Driver: Yes.

Me: You didn’t think it was a better idea to take the off-ramp and stop where cars aren’t flying past you at a few hundred miles an hour?

Driver: Um…

Me: This is not a smart place to stop at all.

Driver: <Blank stare>

Driver: I was driving him to [insert hospital name].

Me: Well, you’re not even going the right way.

For a fleeting moment I actually consider telling them to keep driving, but then I figure they’re so dumb they’re not going to make it there in one piece.

“You can walk? Get in the ambulance.”

Real World

I get it – you have a vision of change and a strong belief in something. That’s not a bad thing. I know I am certainly not as principled as you are. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be a little less naïve about it.

Vandals knocked out Wear’s teeth in a vicious beating caught on video during the protests Tuesday that began in Berkeley and spilled into Oakland. They beat him because he tried to put out a garbage fire. He tried to tell them violence was muddling up their message.

As a peaceful protester participating in protests that have almost always been known more for the blatant looting, vandalism, physical assaults, and general disruption of innocent people’s everyday lives, did you seriously think you can come away from such an encounter with total scumbags unscathed?

I know the folks who love to loudly decry “victim blaming” will no doubt offer their extremely insightful idea that people shouldn’t assault other people, just like they always say people shouldn’t break into cars belonging to other people to steal their laptops in plain sight, or people shouldn’t cancel other people’s plane tickets after they post it on Facebook, or other similar (and more sensitive and controversial) examples.

That may work in La-La Land.

Elsewhere, some people actually pause to rationally think about the situations they’re getting themselves into.

Why do people still insist on not wearing seat belts?

Is it ignorance? Is it laziness? Or is it because they don’t like the government poking its nose into their cars? I mean, I’ve heard that line about E-ZPass plenty of times when people choose to sit in traffic and avoid discounts instead of going through tolls without slowing down.

The week before Thanksgiving, a family traveling to Disney World lost 5 members after a wreck. Six were ejected and 5 of them died. None of the 6 were wearing seat belts.


Look at the passenger space – that is a totally survivable rollover if you’re restrained.

If only 85% of drivers remember to use their ignitions, do you know how much better traffic will be?

On a related note, thanks to John, have you heard of anti-seat belt laws crusader Derek Kieper?

Then go

Code 3 for this at 6 in the morning:

AMB — C3

Who the fuck do I have to slap for this dispatch? The dispatchers? The managers? The EMS oversight agency? Why the fuck is any unit even dispatched to this shit? Yeah, yeah, yeah – “Because we have to.”

Fuck off.

Any why the fuck did this motherfucker even call 911? Is he going to call when he’s going to the grocery store too?

Disposition: Gone on arrival.

I can believe it even if you can’t

Code 3 for auto-ped.

It’s raining. Hard. And it’s dark.

“I can’t believe he didn’t see me! I had the walk sign!”

“You’re crossing the street on a rainy night in dark clothing.”

I’m not saying it’s not the driver’s fault, because it totally is. I am saying it is very naïve to have so much faith in other people*, especially people who are operating 3000-pound pieces of metal capable of reaching 100 miles an hour.

Assuming this pedestrian got hit at 20 mph, the kinetic energy of the vehicle just prior to impact is roughly 54000 joules. One joule is approximately the energy required to lift an apple vertically from the floor to your belly button in air.

So, I’d recommend being a little bit less trusting.

*The same kind of naïveté that gets people mugged or raped

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for…

After more than a decade of doing the same stupid things over and over again, in the last few years, finally, we have begun to let good sense and logic take over:

  • We have finally moved away from the idiotic “everyone gets oxygen” mentality
  • And the stupid spinal immobilization for insurance neck and back pain
  • Waveform capnography for intubations and hypervents (sorry – don’t really care about the shark’s fin)
  • CPAP
  • Lucas (even if it makes no difference in survival)
  • Timestamps on monitors that get exported to PCRs
  • The media finally got distracted and forgot about Ebola wiping the US off the map

I need to work on my Christmas list.

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

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