These Paramedics Never Cry Uncle

, , , , , | Healthy | December 13, 2020

A friend who used to live on my street moved out rather suddenly and then moved house again quite a bit thereafter. It was a little strange, but eventually, we found out that her parents divorced and the housing situation was a bit screwed up because it’s Australia and our welfare system is a bit… stupid.

Her dad has finally settled into a place more permanently and decides to host New Year’s. My friend invites me along, and despite having not really met that side of her family, I agree to come and join in the festivities.

On arrival, I’m introduced to an uncle who is probably only five to seven years our senior at best and who has been drinking rather heavily since yesterday afternoon. He gets to chatting and we learn that he has only recently recovered from a nasty car accident that shattered his legs. He’s all healed up and ready to celebrate the New Year, loudly proclaiming to all who’ll listen that next year will be his year since everything has gone so wrong in this one. I’m sympathetic to the poor guy; the accident was 100% not his fault and it was a horrendous and intense path to recovery. With a small child in his care, I can only imagine how hard the recovery must have been, so I don’t begrudge his drinking. Out of everyone present, he probably has the best reason to be overindulging, and he isn’t an angry drunk by any stretch of the imagination.

The night wears on, and we are about an hour away from midnight. The local sports grounds is hosting a fireworks display, and from the backyard, we will have a great seat for the show. Suddenly, the drunken uncle staggers over to the trampoline and claps enthusiastically at the kids all doing little tricks. One of those kids asks uncle if he ever did tricks and the uncle puffs with pride and declares that he used to be part of his high school’s gymnastics team. The kids all ooh and ahh in admiration, and it isn’t long before they vacate the trampoline and start coaxing [Uncle] to show them some tricks. Bad idea.

He climbs up and starts to bounce. My friend’s dad rushes over and tries to convince the uncle not to do anything silly, but [Uncle] is too caught up in nostalgia and alcohol to listen to reason and decides that trampolining couldn’t be that much different from doing flips on a gym floor. He then jumps super high and starts a backflip; sadly, he isn’t very well in control of the bounce and the trajectory sends him off the mark and he hits the ground hard. There is a sickening, cracking crunch on impact, the kind of sound that reverberates in your teeth and reminds you of nails on a chalkboard.

The ambulance is called immediately and they arrive extremely quickly. They pull up and rush over to [Uncle], who is still very much in a good mood; apparently, he didn’t feel a thing and has spent the time waiting trying to convince us all he is fine and attempting to stand up. The paramedics assess his injuries and gather information from the surrounding family, hand the poor guy a painkiller, and set up a stretcher. Just as they heave him up to slide the stretcher under his prone form, another horrible crunch is heard, and the paramedics lower him carefully to the ground again. A female paramedic feels about his waist and hips and realises that there is more than likely some pelvic bone damage and asks the host for a set of scissors.

[Uncle] is still happy as a clam and suddenly seems to register that there is a beautiful young lass attending to his pants line and becomes very flirty. The paramedic allows the flirting as uncle isn’t being belligerent and it seems to be keeping him relatively still while my friend’s dad runs for the scissors. 

Uncle: “So, what’s a sweet young thing like you need scissors for? I hope we aren’t doing surgery here.” *Laughs* “Though, if it’s you, I guess I wouldn’t mind so much. You’re lovely!”

Female Paramedic: *Laughs* “Oh, no need to worry, sir. No surgery here in the grass. I just need to see your hips a bit better in case there’s more damage we couldn’t see through your clothes. I hope you’re not attached to these shorts, though; we need the scissors to cut them off.”

[Uncle] suddenly starts blushing madly, and the flirty tone is now a little fearful and embarrassed.

Uncle: “Oh, um… It’s just, well, it’s a rather unpleasant job… that is… would your partner here approve of removing my pants?! And… and there are children here! Oh, God! Someone take the children away; I don’t want to be a flasher!!” 

The male paramedic lost it, and through his laughter, he assured [Uncle] that it wasn’t a problem, that they were both trained professionals, and that the kids would be fine as they weren’t planning to cut them off in full view of spectators. [Uncle] was blushing and stammering objections the entire time as a screen was set up and his pants were removed in moderate privacy. 

Finally, they got [Uncle] loaded into the ambulance. The female paramedic was gathering some last bits of information from the family and organising a support person to ride along with them to the hospital. I couldn’t help but ask if this kind of thing was routine for New Year’s. The paramedic laughed and said that, sadly, it was their busiest time of year, but if it’s for someone like [Uncle], she didn’t mind so much. He’s lovely.

[Uncle] just blushed all the harder and covered himself more with the blankets piled on top of him. It was an exciting New Year’s, that’s for sure, and the timing was brilliant, as the ambulance pulling away coincided with the fireworks starting.

The poor guy had re-shattered the old injuries and done some rather significant damage to both hips and pelvic bone. I think he needed pins and plates, and unfortunately, the recovery was a lot longer this time around. It was not exactly the best way to ring in the New Year, but at least he had wonderful paramedics who possessed a great sense of both humour and duty of care.

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Do You Have Any Idea How Expensive Your Laziness Is?!

, , , , , | Healthy | November 10, 2020

I volunteer for my township’s all-volunteer first aid squad. We have a designated crew manning the building during the day to answer any calls, but overnight, the designated crew responds from home via pager. My town and surrounding towns are not very big, so we or other towns sometimes have difficulty putting a crew together. For this reason, we have a “mutual aid” agreement with nearby towns. If we do not have a crew available, another town offers their crew, and vice versa.

Many people misuse the 911 system. They think that arriving at an emergency room by ambulance will mean faster service. It does not. I have literally been to a house in the middle of the night for a stubbed toe. There were four cars in the driveway and five people in the house, any one of whom could have driven the “patient” to the hospital… for the stubbed toe.

On one night shift, my pager goes off to respond to the next town over, which also happens to have the hospital that we take most of our patients to. Bleary-eyed, I drive to my building, meet up with my crew, grab an ambulance, set the GPS, and go off on our way.

Dispatch: “The patient is experiencing urinary retention.”

This can be very painful and dangerous to the kidneys.

And where was the house we ended up at? Across the street from the hospital emergency room entrance. And where was the patient? Sitting on his front porch with a packed bag and quietly reading a book. And how long had it been since he had passed urine? About three hours. Grrrrr!

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The Scamming Was Bad But Then Things Got Gross

, , , , | Legal | October 24, 2020

I used to volunteer for my township’s all-volunteer first aid squad. Some years prior, we had removed a volunteer for a variety of reasons, including being unfit for duty. Prior to that, when he was still on the squad, he told me an hour-long story about how he was working as an EMT in Manhattan on 9/11. He had my complete attention and sympathy while he told me how he was injured and could not walk inside one of the towers when a policeman came by and carried him out to safety.

Following his removal from the squad, it started coming out that the whole story he told me was a lie and he was scamming foundations and other groups out of money and services. At the time, though, nobody could prove that he was a scam artist. I felt personally affronted, as he had originally had me hook, line, and sinker when he told me his fake story. Because of this, I was very vocal about how I felt about him, and he knew it.

Fast forward several years. It is a Friday night and I am on duty to take calls for an ambulance in my township. The township high school is playing a football game, and since the school requires an ambulance to be stationed at the game, we have a second rig there. Partway through the game, my pager goes off, announcing a call for a stabbing at the game. My crew heads that way. When we arrive, we see that the other ambulance is already on the scene rendering care. Since it would be the responsibility of my ambulance to transport to the hospital, we decide to leave the patient on that ambulance and just switch crews.

I enter the side of the other rig to see the victim receiving care for his wound by the other crew. But who else is there? The scammer! I look him in the eye.

Me: *Calmly* “You can leave my ambulance now.”

Scammer: “I will not. I’ve started rendering care here and I am going to see it through to the end.”

Me: “We have it under control. Exit my ambulance.”

Scammer: “No.”

Me: “You must leave immediately; you are not wanted here.”

He looks down to the floor, picks something up, and throws it at my face. I do not have time to react; we are only five feet apart. The object hits me square in my face and then falls toward my hands, where I catch it. It is only then that I realize it is the bloody shirt from the stabbing victim! And this is in front of three witnesses directly inside the ambulance.

I immediately drop it to the floor and then proceed to lose my cool. I move around the victim on the stretcher toward the scammer/assaulter. I get loud. I am not even sure what I say exactly, but something to the effect of, “How dare he expose my eyes and hands to a bodily fluid?!”

The scammer/assaulter quickly jumps out the back of the ambulance. I follow, still shouting. He runs away. Within five seconds, I realize that a police officer was standing right there taking a witness statement but is now staring at me in surprise, as he has never seen me act this way. I look at him and apologize, telling him that I will talk to him later.

We transported the victim to the hospital and he turned out to be okay. After finishing up with the transport, I called my squad captain to report what had happened. He told me to go directly to the police station and file charges.

Some months later, it was time to go to court for the trial of the scammer/assaulter. He had a lawyer and pleaded guilty. I talked to the prosecutor, who recommended punishment to the judge. I knew there would be no jail time, but I requested the maximum fine, to be earmarked as a donation to the first aid squad. He agreed. So did the judge.

It was some years later that an investigative reporter contacted me. He was looking into the scammer. I happily provided all the information that was known to me. His two-night piece aired a few weeks later, and it 100% exposed the scammer for what he was: a guy taking advantage of a national tragedy for money and sympathy. Now, THAT was sweet justice!

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Many Hands Make Light Work

, , , , , , | Healthy | October 22, 2020

I used to volunteer with my town’s first aid squad. Most of the calls would be relatively minor in nature, but every once in a while, a true life-or-death emergency would occur.

This story occurs on the day of a blizzard with over twelve inches of snow already on the ground. We get a call for chest pain and begin to head toward the house as quickly as is safely possible. As we get onto side streets, a township snow plow meets up with us to plow the road in front of the ambulance.

We arrive at the house to see a driveway on a steep incline that is, of course, covered with snow. We all make our way up without falling and go into the house. We find a patient having a true heart emergency and in need of the hospital immediately. Our team leader takes over.

Team Leader: “[Colleague #1] and [Colleague #2], go get the snow shovels out of the rig and start making a pathway to get [Patient] out. [My Name], get [this equipment], [that equipment], and [other equipment] and bring it inside.

The three of us went outside. The other two started shoveling a pathway while I started grabbing the necessary equipment. As I started carrying it up to the house, a neighbor with a snowblower made his way over and started clearing the snow from the driveway. Suddenly, two more neighbors with snowblowers arrived and joined in the effort. On my second trip outside, I watched as two teenagers with shovels ran over and started clearing off the steps. A moment later, yet another neighbor appeared with a bag of sand and she began to coat the steps & driveway to improve traction.

We were able to get the patient down the driveway, into the ambulance, and safely to the hospital, where he made a full recovery. And my faith in humanity? Restored!


This story is part of our Most Inspirational Of 2020 roundup!

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This story is part of our Feel Good roundup for October 2020!

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The Time 911 Called Me

, , , , | Right | CREDIT: EisConfused | September 23, 2020

Please note that at the time of this story I was running on hope and caffeine, and had been awake for thirty hours, so some details might have changed due to my recollection.

It is the winter of 2018. I work at a call center for a power and natural gas company. The worst polar vortex storm the state has seen in ages hits us, with temperatures frequently hitting -25 or below for over a week.

Even the waffle houses closed; waffle houses are so reliable FEMA uses something called “the waffle house index” to rate disasters!

I was living close enough to work that they called me in a few times and all hours of the day over the weeks because the number of people who could arrive safely is small.

At the beginning, our queue could be over 500 people. By day three it is mostly just shouting that we need to reconnect their power before anyone else because of any number of reasons, none of which changed the reality that we couldn’t do that. The power grid is like a vascular system. If the end of the line isn’t getting blood it isn’t because the immediate juncture is stopped up. This is compounded by weather and reconnection surges frying an entire second batch of equipment and causing a second wave of outages.

Me: *Taking a call* “Thank you for calling [Power Company], my name is [My Name]; how may I help you today?”

Caller: “I’m not sure you can help, please let me know if you need to get a supervisor. My name is [Caller’s Name] and I am with [Major cellular company]. We donate facilities to be used as 911 relays and switchboards, and the 911 branch in Minnesota town has a problem. See, we have generators and fuel, but only enough for 86 hours. We are currently at about 76 hours without power. We have a fuel delivery being made on an emergency basis tomorrow after they will have been out of power for about 90 hours. With this weather, we need to remain active so our last-ditch hope was to contact you guys and see what can be done.”

I am staring blankly at the address search screen trying to process this.

Me: “Well… let me put you on hold for just a second, I want to see if we have a protocol for… this. Can I get the address of your building?”

Caller: “Oh yeah, absolutely, ask around! Anything that may help. Our address is [Very Minnesota road in very mid-west town].”

At this point, I just mute and ask the girl next to me what the h*** I do. The supervisors are beyond busy, sometimes even taking calls themselves, but she had worked there for six years and just gave me a blank stare for a moment.

Supervisor: “Huh, that’s new, call dispatch I guess. It is an emergency. Several actually.”

I hop on the line, check to make sure an order to investigate the outage is already there, check-in with the caller and get his callback line, all that, then call dispatch.

Dispatch: “Dispatch, what’s the issue?”

Me: “So I know we don’t prioritize who gets reconnected b—”

Dispatch: “Ya d*** right we don’t!”

Me: “Yes I understand that, but I have a fellow from 911 on my line. He says they’ve exhausted their options for keeping the lights on themselves. They won’t get fuel for the generator until they’ve been offline for several hours. That town was hit some of the worst, the last thing they need is to not be able to contact emergency services.”

There is a long pause.

Dispatch: “Okay, I need to put you on hold.”

I hear a bunch of shouting into different rooms because he didn’t put me on hold or even mute me. The dispatcher’s boss gets on the line.

Dispatch Boss: “This is [Dispatch Boss], I hear you’ve got 911 on your line?”

We go back and forth, I bring the cell rep into the call and hop around in the system getting our protocol stuff done, and letting my team lead know what’s going on. I never heard about the issue again, so I have to assume it worked out.

Honestly, I think that dispatch actually giving a hoot was more surreal than being called by 911. Those guys always sound like every request you make is like squeezing lemon juice in their eyes.

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