You said it

Code 3 for seizure. I recognize this address.

A tough-looking, tattooed man in his 30s is on the kitchen floor, not responsive, and not for the first time. His girlfriend tells us, also not for the first time, that he has pseudoseizures and PTSD after being beaten up some time ago.

We go through the usual dog and pony show of an assessment.

I’m totally on autopilot and I don’t even think about word choice before I casually ask, “So, ma’am, what other medical problems does he have besides fake seizures?”

“He doesn’t fake seizures!”

“You just said he has pseudoseizures.”


“That is LITERALLY what ‘pseudoseizures’ means.”

Body Cam 1, Foul-Mouthed Woman 0

In this week’s Chest Cam Chronicles, a Fairfield, California boy was left sleeping in his car before it was stolen. His parents called police for help. And then they said the police were mean to them while they were generally unhelpful toward the police.


Code 3 for SOB. At the goof house. It’s 3am.

I ring the bell.

A resident opens the door, “I called.”

A staff member reaches the door, “Please wait a moment, guys.”

The door closes.

My partner thinks out loud that the staff member is telling the resident to go back to bed, but I wasn’t born yesterday.

A minute goes by and the door opens again. Clearly a huge medical emergency.

“I’m sorry about that, guys. You see, I had just told him not to open the door at night without checking to see who it is. He already forgot what I told him.”

“He doesn’t look sick.”


“You don’t look sick.”

“I can’t breathe.”

“I think you’re breathing just fine.”

“I had pneumonia last week.”

“You still have it?”

“Yeah. I didn’t want to wait until the morning because the doctor told me to come back right away if it got worse.”

“I’m sure he didn’t mean it literally.”

And you can’t remember the thing about the door just now but you can remember what the doctor said a week ago?

“Let’s go.”

Sgt. Jim Parker is my new idol ***UPDATED

Actress Daniele Watts was detained along with her boyfriend Brian Lucas for refusing to identify herself after someone called 911 to report “two people having sex in a car” a couple of weeks ago. By now, pretty much everyone knows that she then pulled not just the race card, but also the fame card, on LAPD Sgt. Jim Parker, and generally behaved like a spoiled child, ranting and raving in a way all too familiar to any emergency service personnel, unnecessarily prolonging what would have been a 2-minute contact 12 times over and ruining the sergeant’s original plan to get some coffee.

Lucas, on the other hand, appeared very chill and basically ended the cops’ interest in him by being, let’s just say, uninteresting and, therefore, unsuspicious.

I actually listened – and cringed – to the entire 24-minute audio clip of the LAPD response. I don’t have much personal interest in this whole kerfuffle, but I do realize one thing: I do not have anywhere near the unbelievable patience that Sgt. Parker has, and it’s a good thing I’m not a cop. I even recognize in his voice that very unique blend of restraint, bemusement, fatherly indulgence, sarcasm, passive-aggression and resignation that only other emergency responders can understand.

Since this happened so soon after the Oakland, California incident, it really has not been a good month for embellishing your racial profiling claims. I get it – no one likes cops, but claiming a bunch of stuff that is practically the opposite of what is recorded generally isn’t such a good idea.

After the usual did-she-or-did-she-not-have-to-show-identification in the media, this being America, a country where something as simple as identifying yourself to law enforcement during questioning routinely becomes as complicated as humanly possible, the legal people still can’t agree on anything.

Meanwhile, in typical chickenshit management mode, the LAPD is investigating the incident even though no one, as of this writing, has filed a formal complaint.

It is endlessly funny to me that, as a law-abiding member of society with things to do, someone would actually rather be detained for 24 minutes than 2 just to be a martyr. A bit like the way someone would rather sit in line in the cash lanes of a toll road than zip through electronic toll collection just because s/he doesn’t “want the gubmint to know where” s/he’s going.

Finally, in an amazingly unusual move, local civil rights leaders totally sided with the cops and asked Watts to apologize, and, in a totally expected move, Watts refused.

***Update #1: Daniele Watts has been ordered to apologize in writing to Sgt. Jim Parker.

***Update #2: Daniele Watts couldn’t even write two sincere, mature apologies to Sgt. Jim Parker.

FAQ #4

Q: What do you enjoy least about your job?

A: Since there is absolutely no one in society I don’t deal with, I am pretty much disappointed by everyone in general and by humanity as a whole.

Nut in charge of nuts

Code 3 for suicidal subject. It’s 3am.

We arrive at the residential psychiatric program. Same place as the other night, but different staff. Obviously the B-team.

“She left already.”


“We put her on a psych hold and called for a private ambulance.”

“So why are we here?”

“She was tired of waiting and called 911.”

“Let me guess – it probably took no more than an hour.”


“So it’s like people calling 911 from the ER waiting room.”


“And you did nothing to stop her from calling 911.”

“They have their own cell phones and we can’t really take them away.”

“You do realize how stupid this sounds right now, no?”

“We’re not supposed to handle their private property.”

“You really think that’s a super-critical policy that you should totally follow without question?”

<Blank stare>

“And once the ambulance came and left, you didn’t think it’d be a good idea to call 911 back and cancel us?”


I’ve noticed that the nut houses tend to be staffed by other nuts.

As I’ve said before, with all due sympathy to psychiatric problems, as far as EMERGENCY medical services are concerned, fuck psych calls and psych facilities. All of them. As much as we don’t know about suicide and why so many seemingly fortunate people quietly and unexpectedly choose suicide, I know one thing – all these attention-seeking “I wanna kill myself” calls can be handled by a pat-down and a van with child locks. Sending a 911 ambulance for these calls is like burning down your house because you saw a hairy spider. Anything less than an actual self-harm call with an actual injury or overdose or whatever, we should not be responding to them. Period.

His knee hurts too

Code 2 for not feeling good. At a street corner. Late at night.

We don’t see anyone on the corner, or any of the other 3 corners.

“Alright, I guess just come around the block, take another look, and call it good.”

We nearly get a full block away when some guy on a front porch waves at us.

“Shit, it’s the goof house.”

Of course. It’s a nut at the nut house. Who can’t even get the location right. He was the one who called. He’s in his mid-20s.

“What’s up?”

“I don’t feel good.”

“Uh huh.”

“I’m shaky.”

“OK. I don’t see you shaking.”

“I have a headache.”

“So do I, thanks to you.”

“I feel like I’m going to die.”

“I’m going to tell you right now that you are not going to die.”

“But I’m scared that I’m dying.”

“You ain’t dying.”

“I’m sad.”

“You want to hurt yourself?”


“Mm hmm.”

“How long have you been sad?”

“A month.”

“Oh dear lord.”

A staff member comes out.

“I didn’t even know he called you.”

“He wants to go to the hospital.”

“He has that right.”

“Yeah, but is it appropriate?”


It’s stunning that this staff person actually said no. She’s over-qualified for this position.

“He said he doesn’t feel good. For a month.”

“First I’ve heard of it. The doctor and the psychiatrist come every other day.”

“So we can leave him here with you?”


“Alright dude, go back to bed.”

“You’re supposed to be the ambulance!”

“And you’re supposed to be staying here with these nice folks and following their directions and not sneaking out of the house and calling 911 for no reason.”

“But my knee hurts!”

“OK, man, now you’re getting into the nonsense territory. In fact, I’m pretty sure you’re just making stuff up at this point. No one at the ER is going to actually do anything for you. Let me go further and go out on a limb here and tell you that I’m certain they don’t want to see you. And not to mention how unhappy they will be with both you and me, not that I care much how they feel about me. But you, my friend, you don’t want them to be unhappy with you. My suggestion is you get a good night’s sleep and listen to these people here.”

No one called us back from that address for the rest of the night.