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 Рthe only thing they did right Рthey 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.”

2 thoughts on “Don’t stop on the highway”

  1. A couple of years ago I was dispatched from hospital to a nearby residential address, we were pulling out of the hospital grounds when a car (pulling in) flashed its’ headlights at us, then turned around and followed us. We pulled up at the dispatch address, the car which had tailed us pulled up behind us. We got out and, you guessed it, our patient was sitting in the passenger seat of the car that followed. I could not help myself and questioned the totally illogical nature of what had just transpired with both the driver and the ”patient”. “You just had to drive another 50 metres and you were there, instead you followed us back to your home”. As is often the case when you question the logic (or lack thereof) of the callout with the caller or patient, they instantly went on the defensive and threatened to complain – asking for my name etc etc. You just cannot win.

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