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The Darwin Awards: Six surreal EMS calls News

February 8, 2013

Behind the Patient: Street Portraits
by Michael Morse

The Darwin Awards: Six surreal EMS calls

The calls that test your resolve, challenge your wits and push your patience to the limit are the surreal ones...

By Michael Morse

Variety is the spice of life, and the unknown is a big part of the allure of EMS. Never knowing what you are getting into keeps things fresh, keeps you alert and makes things interesting.

You have your "real" calls; diabetics, overdoses, panic attacks, asthmatics and the like, and you have your "unreal" calls, the ones that you never forget, be it a mass casualty, multiple shooting, cardiac arrest or trauma.

But the ones that test your resolve, challenge your wits and push your patience to the limit are the "surreal" calls.

Most shifts encompass a myriad of responses; some serious, and others mundane. Seldom is a shift complete without a surreal call or two.

Every now and then, the entire shift ends up in the nut house, and all we can do is go along for the ride, and try to enjoy the show.

Here's one recent shift's candidates for the Darwin Award…

0100 hrs

"Rescue 1, respond to the Highroller Hotel, next to the parking lot for an unconscious male."

"Rescue 1 responding."

"What are you doing?"

"I'm drunk."

"Why are you sleeping on the Bocce Court?"

"Cuz it's comfortable."

"But what if you get hit with a Bocce Ball?"

"Ain't nobody playin' Bocce in the middle of the night."

"That's because there's a drunk guy sleeping in the middle of the court."


0200 hrs

"Rescue 1, Respond to 23 Homer Court for an elderly male injured in a fall."

"Rescue 1, Responding."

"Why are you naked?"

"Because I fell."

"You fell."

"Yup, fell in the bathroom."

"But why are you naked?"

"Cuz I was naked when I fell."

"Are you hurt?"

"I don't know, can you check me?"

"Good thing you're naked or I wouldn't be able to check you."

"That's what I thought."


0300 hrs.

"Rescue 1, respond to 546 Elmwood Avenue for a 50- year old female feeling dizzy."

"Rescue 1, responding."

"What's going on?"

"I woke up and felt dizzy."


"Yup. Figured I'd call you fellas."


"Got the pressure and the sugar."

"Do you take medications?"

"Every night."

"Did you take them tonight?"

"I was gonna, but I felt dizzy."

"Okay then."

0400 hrs.

"Rescue 1, Respond to Broadway at Almy for an assault."

"Rescue 1, on the way."

"What's going on?"

"What's it look like?"

"Looks like you got a beating."

"I got strangled, attacked by a pit bull, punched, kicked and clubbed."

"It doesn't look that bad."

"You're not the one that got a beating."


0500 hrs.

"Rescue 1, respond to The Highrise for a thirty-eight year old female with a Charley Horse."

"Rescue 1, on the way."

"What's going on?"

"What do you do for a Charley horse?"

"Walk it off."

"What if it goes all the way up your back?"

"Walk faster."

"What if you can't walk?"


"That mouse that bit me yesterday? You remember him."

"The one that stays up all night?"

"Yeah, him, the doctor said it's a good thing he didn't break the skin or I'd be in trouble."

"Maybe it's a Charley Mouse."



"Rescue 1, respond to 132 Broad Street, at the pay phone for a man hearing voices."

"Rescue 1, responding."

"What's going on?"

"I'm hearing dem voices again."

"The ones that tell you to smoke crack until you run out of money?"

"Yeah, that and other stuff, too."

"Why do you listen?"

"Hmmm. I don't know."

"Neither do I."

And the winner is...

Me, for taking all of them to the ER. Again and again. I have a six "hmm" limit, after my seventh I get become as goofy as the people who call 911!

About the author

Michael Morse is a retired Rescue Captain with the Providence (RI) Fire Department. He is the author of the books Mr. Wilson Makes it Home, Rescuing Providence and Responding. His columns appear in numerous fire and EMS publications and the Providence Journal. He can be reached by email to Michael Morse
The comments below are member-generated and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of or its staff. If you cannot see comments, try disabling privacy and ad blocking plugins in your browser. All comments must comply with our Member Commenting Policy.
Lynn Magnuson Lynn Magnuson Wednesday, February 13, 2013 3:06:46 PM Hmmm...
Matthew Ervin Matthew Ervin Saturday, February 16, 2013 2:17:40 AM Hmmmmm. Hehe :D
Linda Waldron Inman Linda Waldron Inman Saturday, February 16, 2013 9:03:04 PM Yes and the shallow gene pool doesn't get any deeper when they get to the ER
Dagney Taggart Dagney Taggart Sunday, February 17, 2013 7:14:26 PM This poor man must work in conjunction with my ex husband, who is a nurse in Providence. Can't fix stupid!
Clare Lewis Clare Lewis Monday, February 18, 2013 5:44:49 AM Yep, been there. How about the emergency call to someone with a hair stuck on their tongue
Steve Jacobi Steve Jacobi Monday, February 18, 2013 1:11:24 PM Clearly more education is needed in EMS. What about spending more time writing to the Social Services department for assistance rather than just bashing patients on the internet? You also need to learn a little about "pressure and sugar" and the way a layperson is taught about the side effects of their medication. This patient was probably advised to seek medical treatment if dizzy and yes the patient may have been advised to not take their medication until seen immediately for help depending upon their medical condition and medication. Laughing at them could be deadly next time when they ignor what they have been taught to do. Charley mouse? Did you notice the living conditions? Rodents can present alot of problems if a person is living in those conditions. Crack? Yeah that is a problem also but clearly one you are not educated or trained for. An elderly person falling? Ever hear of neuropathy or decreased sensation in elderly people or those with diabetes? Often they do not know how serious their injuries are. Making fun of someone who is naked in their bathroom is just immature. A drunk sleeping outside? How cold is it? Can you call the police or should you? Can you direct him to a shelter? Do you even know any resources in your area? And here I thought Paramedics were all set to be Community Paramedics but yet don't want to get involved in all that nasty social services stuff or have to actually assess a patient and their environment.
Wethersfield Surf Rescue Wethersfield Surf Rescue Friday, March 01, 2013 10:53:11 PM "surreal" calls have an affinity for the last 30 min of a shift.
Daniel Katzenstein Daniel Katzenstein Tuesday, March 05, 2013 2:08:06 PM Reminds me of triple wammy that we had. 50yr old female general weakness. I get there ask her what the problem is. She says "Is my house neat?" I'm like it looks nice. She says "I just cleaned it and my husband didn't say a word." Hmmmm I'm like "We don't do marital counseling".. Next day same call type I get there and she says "Can you make me a cup of coffee?" Hmmm I'm like "Nice apartment" The next day another call to the same residence. Another crew responds I was going to give them a heads up but decided to see how it plays out. The next thing I know they report that she coded and were in full-blown CPR (she survived). I still feel bad about the coffee.
Storm Abril Storm Abril Thursday, August 08, 2013 11:16:49 PM dude thats crazy

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