Code 3 for shortness of breath. In the Walgreens parking lot. In a parked Toyota Corolla.
Great. Sounds stupid.
Four minutes later we pull into the empty Walgreens parking lot. Sure enough, there is a Corolla parked right next to the store entrance. I can see out of my window through the rear window of the Corolla into the back seat, where there is a young man sprawled across the seat, leaning against a young woman. Looks like nothing but drama.
I get the gear and walk over. Another young woman is standing next to the car. You know how people are so scared that they’re past panicking, and instead appear almost calm, flat, with a sort of resignation? That’s how she strikes me.
“Pleeeease help him! He can’t breathe! He’s having an allergic reaction!” She quietly says.
With those words, I am fairly certain it’s not bullshit. People claim to have allergic reactions all the time, and it’s usually so dumb it’s funny.
I poke my head into the back seat, and the other young woman inside looks at me with the same beyond-panicked look as the first young woman, and she squeaks, “He can’t breathe!”
He certainly doesn’t look good at all. I lift his shirt up and see a few – not many – fresh, weepy patches of urticaria.
“Hey, R, help me pull him out of the car.”
We set him down on the ground next to the Corolla, in the next parking space, in a large, old, darkened and dried oil stain, of course. We work. It’s a good call. Bad allergic reactions are probably the quickest-moving calls.
By the way, it’s very difficult to draw up drugs in near-total darkness out of those stupid glass ampules that require filter needles. Why is it that the drug that patients tend to need immediately is the only remaining drug that comes in those glass ampules?
Later on, trying to make the young women feel better, we talk to them a bit.
“So where did you guys come from?”
“Well, we were at a restaurant, and he took a bite of something. He spit it out, saying it tasted like mustard. He said he’s allergic to mustard. He went to the bathroom to rinse his mouth out. He came back to the table, and said he didn’t feel good.”
“Did you stay?”
“No, we left right away, and we drove him to the hospital.”
“But when we got there, he wouldn’t get out. He said something about not wanting to go in because people die at hospitals.”
“We tried to force him to go in, but he threatened to get out of the car, so we decided to drive him home instead.”
“So how did you end up here?”
“He started to get worse on the way home, so we stopped here and called 911.”
This guy started at a restaurant on the south side of town. His caring and thinking friends drove him to the main hospital in the center of town. Refusing to go inside to the hospital like a normal person, he made his friends drive him home, back to the south side of town, passing at least 4 hospitals and going through at least 10 districts, before he got so bad that they stopped in this Walgreens parking lot in our district.
I hope he listens to them the next time. Moron.