Sensibly realizing that this is nonsense

Code 3 for vomiting blood. It’s 3am.

A young woman meets us outside, and she leads us into the house. There was clearly a large party with dozens of other college students still hanging around.

“My friend drank a lot and puked his guts out. There was a little blood in it. I called my friend, who’s a paramedic, and he said that it could be serious and we should call you guys.”

I seriously doubt that ANY actual working paramedic would suggest calling 911 at 3am for a drunk kid with some blood-tinged vomiting. For that, a jury of his peers would burn his license on the spot before stoning him to death.

I do not say anything.

Anyway, a 22-year-old college student/athlete is prone on his bed. He is mostly fine, meaning he is not completely wasted. He can answer questions and is even able to walk. He just feels “terrible” after all the alcohol, as if that’s news to anyone.

They show us the vomitus, which is in a plastic bag as well as a small paper box. (Don’t ask me why; I don’t know either.) Sure enough, there is maybe a tiny strand of blood-tinged mucus among with the copious amounts of food and alcohol.

Perhaps noticing that no one is jumping up and down over this, his girlfriend says, “This is pretty much a nonsense call to you guys, right?”

Right about now, I have what I can only describe as an explosion of thoughts in my head, all of them less-than-appropriate responses to being asked that question at 3am. I almost have to put my hands over my mouth to stop myself. My eyes are twitching as I struggle to keep myself from saying anything satisfying.

Sometimes, the silence is deafening.

8 thoughts on “Sensibly realizing that this is nonsense”

  1. Your self-control blows me away; Iā€™m not sure I would have been able to remain silent with an opening like that…

  2. Sometimes your posts make me wonder – is there just a lack of information out there, maybe? I know the general public has no reason to be as educated as those in medicine, but I feel like these are things people should know. We should know when it’s appropriate to call 911. Maybe people don’t know what an emergency is. Our basic education system is lacking in so many fundamental ways, but maybe high school students should have to take a course that teaches them first aid and CPR and about situations in which it would be appropriate to place a 3 AM 911 call.

    1. we can discuss your reply for days, but to keep it brief:

      – our basic education system sucks big time, compared to any other developed countries as well as some developing ones. my belief has always been that education should train critical thinking more than it should teach material, otherwise i wouldn’t be able to pick up a book and learn something on my own. as a result, people don’t think. and they call 911 for a toothache.

      – i think i’ve posted before about a pregnant 18-year-old girl who didn’t know what a condom is. sometimes i wonder how long the anti-sex ed crowd can remain in denial.

      – the american heart association has been pushing to make CPR a high school requirement to improve out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survival rates since chest compressions/brain perfusion are pretty much the only reliable means to increase survival rates in this patient group. why it’s not happening can easily spur another discussion that’ll last for days.

    2. I’m sorry, but more first aid and CPR training would not help. Unless you want more 911 calls. I recently took the joke that is Red Cross first aid and CPR training. The basic response to almost any situation is to call 911. And that situation would probably have qualified.

      1. always better to call 911 early. if it’s a real call, all the better. if it’s silly, then it’ll just be another post for me. =P it’s not like we don’t have a ton of silly calls already; we won’t even notice the increase.

        the only thing definitive after decades of resuscitation literature is that chest compressions really do improve survival to discharge significantly. out-of-hospital cardiac arrests go the longest without interventions before health care providers arrive, and therefore we need as many non-professionals as we can get to at least have some exposure to CPR.

        if we get just one more true survival-to-discharge out of another thousand junk calls, i’m fine with that. sudden out-of-hospital cardiac arrests, after all, are the reason we have EMS, and on that one cardiac arrest, EMS and the stricken person will take any help they can get, especially chest compressions. the only way to do that is to have more people at least know something about CPR. most aren’t going to do it properly, but that’s to be expected, and it’s way better than no one doing anything.

        1. I took a CPR/first aid class a year or so ago (I have two small boys who like to jump off high objects, so I was mostly interested in the first aid part of the class), and the instructor pointed out that in a cardiac arrest situation, even the barely-trained bystander can’t make the situation *worse*. The patient is already “dead”, so the more people that know how to try something, anything, until EMS arrives is a good thing.

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