Walking into work, I saw everyone awake, alert, and oriented. It was five to seven, and I looked around for my normal partner.
“Hey, is Amy in yet?”
That’s when I noticed everyone trying to stifle giggles and smiles. I watched my supervisor walk from the back office, a smile on his face.
“Shao! How are you feeling this morning, hon?” He walked over, giving me a hug. “Coffee?”
“Yeah, black with two sugars.” I leaned against the wall, twirling my trauma shears on my finger. With the small service I worked in, everyone was more like family than co-workers. We spent time at each others’ homes, knew each others husbands, wives, children, and pets. We knew what each other would do to illicit favors from others. Food was my catalyst; a pan of cinnamon rolls or the offer to cook the stations’ choice for dinner was usually good enough to illicit many, many favors from my fellow crew members. Coffee and cigarettes were my vice, so it was almost obvious that a favor was going to be asked when I watched Bill make a cup of my favorite coffee and he pulled a pack of my favorite smokes from his pocket.
“Akeem gave me a pack of 100s with my normal pack, didn’t notice it until just now, so here…I’m not gonna smoke them. Here’s your coffee…”
I took the pack, pocketing them and I slowly sipped my coffee.
“What do you want, Bill?”
“We have a new kid, EMT, who is fresh from school. He seems pretty intelligent, so hopefully he won’t give you too much hassle.”
Ahh…the dreaded New Guy. I had a reputation of doing two things; making something good from brand new EMTs or chewing through them. Either way, I had fun doing it, and I was trusted to give my opinion. I didn’t take the responsibility lightly.
“Anyone know anything about him?”
“He’s Caseys’ boyfriend, that’s about it.” I heard a car door slam and I looked out the nearest window. My first impression wasn’t a good one; he looked like he had slept in his uniform for the past week, it had food stains all over it, and he was gnawing at a wad of gum like he was chewing a cud.
“Bill…I’m gonna kill you.”
I walked outside, my ambulance check-list in my hand. I smiled at him, waiving politely. “Morning! I’m Shao, your partner for today, and you are?”
“Hungry…” came a mumbled reply. He pulled his crust-infested hat down further over his eyes, “where’s the keys to the am’lance?”
“In it. We gotta get the truck checked before we run out for food, shouldn’t take that long if you help me. Besides, it’s a great way to get familiar with where everything is…”
He snorted then spat on the ground near my feet. “I jus drive, don’t do medical shit. Where’s them keys at again?”
“Look, I kept my tone even, my stance non-aggressive. I knew how the EMT classes around there worked; the EMTs were taught how to drive an ambulance and how to lift equipment, not much more. “I know that the idea of running lights and woo-woos is exciting, but we gotta get the truck checked so that we can actually go on those calls. Also, it’s just you and me. We don’t get much help around here, so I may need you to help me if it gets hairy.”
“Whatever…” He walked to the open bay of the garage and I looked over to the windows of the station. Bill waved his hand and I jumped back inside.
“Haha…funny. Where’s my real partner?” I slammed my clipboard down on the table.
“That’s your partner, Shao.” Bill pulled a clean uniform shirt from the closet. “I’ll let him know that the whole dirty shirt thing doesn’t fly, but after that, you’re on your own, kid. If he’s not acting like a human by noon or your first call, you can send him home. You know the missus will come in.” I nodded, but I didn’t want to give up so easily; I figured after working with him, we could smooth out the rough edges and hopefully bring him around into being a team player.
Through out the day, I tried hard. I showed him how to get geared up in bunker gear for vehicle rescues, but he didn’t want to learn; he didn’t need to know that, he was just a driver. I tried everything; tried to make it fun, entertaining, and enlightening. He did not want to do ANYTHING that required medical care. I felt relieved though; we had no calls all day and into the evening, so at 1 am, I figured I was getting off scott free. I began writing my evaluation, starting off by checking off the boxes Not Ready for One on One Partnership, and Needs Further Training. I documented it, saying he was just not functioning as a full crew member. Station duties were neglected and truck duties were neglected. Unfortunately, I couldn’t completely make any statements as to how he functioned on the ambulance because of a lack of calls.
I sat behind the desk, rubbing my temples when the tones went off. It was for an unknown medical problem. I pounded on the crew door.
“Get up! We got a call!”
He burst from the crew room, leaping with excitement. I barely made it to the ambulance before he sped off. We whipped through the streets, the siren screaming, the horn blowing, the lights blazing, and me wanting to vomit. I had never been through such a wild ride. I kept yelling, “Slow down! You’re going to kill us!” With no reduction in speed. I winced every time I heard something fall in the back of the truck. With one hairpin left turn, I heard the house bag and oxygen tank go tumbling onto the floor from their mounts. The cabinet with the drug box popped open and I heard it tumble out. Immediately, I got on the radio and called for my supervisor to meet me at the station after this call, and I called in Medic Dolphine; he was going to drive for me. I didn’t want this jackass behind the wheel ever again.
On scene, I got the report from the cops; the patient had taken some sort of medication sold to him by one of the local urban pharmaceutical represenatives. He was in and out of conciousness, and they had reason to believe he had taken heroin. I grabbed my bag and the cops picked up other respective pieces of equipment and walked in with me. One of the officers recommended using a stair chair instead of the Reeves stretcher due to the way the steps went. Halfway down the staircase was a small landing and a tight 90 degree angle. The reeves would never make the pivot, so it was the stair chair. I instructed Ted, my partner, to get the stair chair. Half of me wanted to leave him by himself and make him get into the house by himself, but I thought better. I asked one of the cops to make sure he got in without getting himself killed and I made my way to the patient.
Once I got to him, I couldn’t help but sigh. He was in and out of conciousness, and when he was awake he was fighting with everyone. I got down, putting on my plesant voice.
“Hey now, we’re just trying to help, hon. Please don’t fight me, all I want to do is give you some medicine to make you stop falling asleep, whaddya say?”
“Can I sing you a song purdy lady?” He slurred to me, smiling at me. I nodded happily. “Sure! You can sing to me all you want as long as I get to give you my medicine…”
He nodded in agreement and began to sing the most off-key rendition of “Layla” I had ever heard. He willingly showed me the best vein to get, and I gave him just enough Narcan to keep him from passing out on me. With each passing verse, we slowly got him to his feet, then in the chair. As we strapped him in, he switched over to “Sweet Home Alabama” and wanted me to sing along. I sang with him as we wheeled him over to the edge of the steps, and I got at the feet. As we slowly took him down the steps, he reached out, feeling off balance. I stopped immediately, and next thing I knew, Ted had let go of the stairchair and had grabbed the patient by the arms, shoving his arms into his chest, yelling at him.
“Don’ fucking move ya bastard! I will kick your ass if you move again!”
The stairchair teetered dangerously, all two hundred and thirty pounds resting on my outstretched arms. The tracks on the back of the chair were down, and I felt the chair trying to continue its path down the stairs. The cops held me from behind, people trying to reaach over Ted to grab the chair. The patient felt even more off balace, so he reached out again. Ted responded by grabbing his arms again, still yelling and screaming. I felt the chair shake again, and the cops finally got ahold of the chair. They took it the rest of the way down while I cornered Ted on the steps. My tone was even and cold, the tone I’d usually reserve for the worst of the worst; child/spouse abusers, animal abusers, and drunk drivers.
“You are going to go to that ambulance, sit in the front passenger seat, buckle your seatbelt, and not say a word, go now…”
He glared at me and walked down the steps. I spent the entire trip to the hospital apologizing profusely to the patient. My repoire with my patient was shot to hell. He wouldn’t look at me, and he even pulled his IV out. While he wasn’t being physically or verbally abusive towards me, it was still hard to watch what I had done go by the wayside by the actions of one person. By the time we got back to the station, I was ready to tear into him. As we pulled in, I saw Bill standing near the bay with the cops from the scene. I figured they had let him in on what had happened, but I wanted the first crack at him. As he got out of the truck, he decided to try and get a jump on the screaming match.
“What the fuck was that for?!” He got up into my face. At almost 6’2″, he towered over me. I didn’t care, I was hot. I shoved him into the side of the ambulance, my finger in his face.
“If I EVER catch you doing that to a patient ever again, Imma push you down the steps myself. Don’t EVER put your hands on a patient! You nearly injured the patient and me! If I wasn’t able to hold onto that chair, we would’ve gone backwards and I would’ve been crushed under the weight of the chair. The patient would’ve taken one helluva ride down those steps and been injuried as well.”
I saw the fear of God in his eyes. “B…but he reached out…”
“I don’t care that he reached out! You stop, keep your hands on the chair, and tell him to stop doing it. You don’t reach out and do it yourself, Ted! That was stupid!” My voice and stance softened. “I’m sorry, Ted, but what you did was stupid. You could’ve gotten hurt…all of us could’ve gotten hurt…”
Bill walked up, looking at Ted. I knew what the look on his face was for, and I felt nothing about it. Bills’ wife, Jessica, came in and spent the next few hours with me as I wrote up my incident reports and got everything settled. After that night, Ted walked out of the station, and he never returned. Did I feel bad for what I said to him? No, not even one little bit. I just thanked my lucky stars that the stair chair didn’t slip and hurt me and the patient.