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Home > Topics > EMS Humor
September 17, 2012
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The Ambulance Driver's Perspective
by Kelly Grayson

Top 10 EMS endings to fairy tales

Many popular fairy tales might be more realistic if EMS entered the story

By Kelly Grayson

It was one of those typical toddler bedtimes where the female spawn in question refuses to go to bed unless she gets one more bedtime story. After I read what seemed like the entire Dr. Seuss collection, she asked for "Goldilocks and the Three Bears."

Sighing wearily, I agreed, provided it was only one more story. And as that tale drew to an end, she was no closer to sleep than she had been an hour before:

Well, Goldilocks was so frightened when she saw the three bears that she ran away and never ventured into the woods again.

"Then what happened, Daddy?"

I'll confess: I snapped.

"Well," I sighed, "Papa Bear was pissed, as you can imagine. So he called the fuzz and filed a complaint. Later, based on his description, they rounded up the usual suspects.

At first, Little Red Riding Hood looked good for it, but she had an ironclad alibi from the woodsman, who placed her in Granny's cabin running from the Big Bad Wolf at the time the break-in occurred. So finally, they haul in Goldilocks on an unrelated traffic stop, and DNA from a cheek swab matched the DNA they found in the saliva on Baby Bear's spoon.

When they confronted Goldilocks with the evidence, she folded like a cheap suit. She did a stretch in juvie for felony B&E and was forced to make restitution for the broken chair.

Soon after being released, they nabbed her driving the getaway car for Hansel and Gretel, who had in their possession a load of jewels from the gingerbread house. The cops found a very dead witch there in the oven, with Hansel's fingerprints all over the handle.The jury didn't buy Hansel's self-defense story, so Goldilocks was tried and convicted as an adult for accessory to murder and got sentenced to life in prison.

Currently, she's in the Louisiana Correctional Facility for Women in St. Gabriel, where she is the unhappy cellmate of a very large butch woman named Big Ethel. Now quit stalling and go to sleep."

I suppose it's not surprising that my daughter would turn out to enjoy my versions of the nursery rhymes far more than the original. So it got me to thinking, what other nursery rhymes could have an EMS ending?

The Three Little Pigs: Sure, in the original, we were told that the Big Bad Wolf, upon being bested by the structural integrity of bricks and mortar, tried climbing down the chimney of the brick house, landing in a pot of water the pigs set to boiling, thereby presumably providing the three little pigs with a tasty meal of parboiled wolf.

But what really happened was that the wolf huffed and puffed and huffed and puffed himself right into hyperventilation syndrome and fell out of the pigs' front lawn with carpopedal spasms.

When the EMTs arrived, they gave him some intranasal Versed and some gentle coaching until he could get his breathing under control. He survived the ordeal, but he failed to change his wicked ways and was killed by an axe-wielding citizen some months later, caught in the act of attempting to eat a little girl's face.

(Other versions of this story have the wolf rupturing an emphysematous bleb and dying from a tension pneumothorax, but the tobacco lobby succeeded in having those versions of the tale purged from library shelves.)

Little Red Riding Hood: Yeah yeah yeah, the wolf ate Grandma, dressed up in her nightgown, waited for Red Riding Hood and, after being insulted about his facial features, tried to make Red Riding Hood dessert, only to be killed in the attempt by the aforementioned axe-wielding woodsman.

But why did he eat one person and try to eat another? The answer: bath salts.

The Ant and the Grasshopper: Ant works hard all summer, storing food and building a house, while Grasshopper whiles away the warm summer months singing and lazing in the sun. When winter comes, Ant is warm, dry and well-fed, and Grasshopper suffers the consequences of his laziness and improvidence.

Sure, maybe it worked that way in Aesop's fable, but in EMS, Grasshopper sucked up to management, pencil-whipped his rig checks and rendered substandard care while Ant kept his rig clean and well-stocked and paid more attention to patient care than EMS politics.

And now Grasshopper is Ant's operations manager and sends Ant nasty little emails about his scene-time compliance.

Sleeping Beauty: In the original, a king and queen invite a bunch of fairies to their infant daughter's christening. One fairy is pissed that she was left off the guest list and curses the infant child to prick her finger on a spindle and die.

Only the intervention of one of the good fairies was able to change the death curse to an eternal sleep that only true love's kiss could break.

In EMS, it was the burnout with the persecution complex, pissed because he wasn't invited out for beers with the gang after work, who caused all the trouble.

And why wasn't he invited? Because he's a lazy jerk with a bad habit of sticking his used needles in the bench seat instead of putting them in the sharps container, that's why. And a few years back, Supervisor Aurora got stuck by one of his contaminated needles, got infected with African sleeping sickness and punished the rest of us by switching to shielded IV catheters and needles.

Believe me, we tried to get them to fire the burnout and switch back to our beloved Jelcos, but we got nowhere. And trust me on this: No matter how fervently you kiss an OSHA compliance officer, there is no sense of tenderness or mercy in those people.

The Princess and the Pea: In the original Hans Christian Andersen tale, a prince sought to test whether a weary traveler was suitable princess material by placing a pea in her bed, covered by 20 mattresses and 20 feather beds.

The young woman endured a sleepless night, unable to rest because of the hard pea in her bed. The prince rejoiced, for only a princess would be sensitive enough to feel a pea through all those mattresses.

Oh, she's a real princess all right... and nothing you do will ever suit her. She's the first recorded sufferer of fibromyalgia, and she's allergic to NSAIDs, dust, dander, wind, employment, the direction east and latex.

And your cot mattress is too hard, the temperature is too high or too low, the nasal cannula irritates her nostrils, she needs her pillow, not yours, and the ride in the ambulance is way too rough, and you can only stick this vein with a 24-gauge butterfly, and you only get one attempt, and... she's going to complain to your supervisor, no matter how much of a prince you are to her.

Three Billy Goats Gruff: A fearsome troll threatens to eat any billy goat that crosses his bridge. The first two billy goats make it across only by promising the troll that their bigger brother would make a better meal. The third billy goat was large and strong enough to butt the troll off of the bridge, after which he was never seen again.

Riiiight. We've got a troll that lives under a bridge in our service area, and he's always hungry. But he never refuses a ride to the hospital, despite me telling him that the next ambulance to come along will be staffed with a much prettier paramedic.

And I can only hope that our troll will never be seen again.

The Boy Who Cried Wolf: In Aesop's fable, a little shepherd boy repeatedly tricked villagers into thinking that a wolf was attacking his flock. When a wolf finally attacked for real, no one took him seriously, and the flock was destroyed.

We all know where this is going, right? Except, in real life, the little shepherd boy is Martha Sue Munchausen-by-proxy, and she'll get her 15 minutes of fame in a shocking expose on Eyewitness News, where she tearfully tells viewers how those mean old villagers — er, I mean EMS crews — failed her family in their moment of need.

The Frog Prince: In the Brothers Grimm fairy tale, a spoiled princess kisses an ugly frog, transforming him into a dashing prince.

Folks, I'm here to tell you: No matter how much you suck up to her, no matter how many cups of coffee you buy her, no matter how much you compliment her appearance, the old battle axe who works the triage desk at Mercy General isn't going to transform into Nurse Carol Hathaway from ER.

And don't even think about kissing her.

The Emperor's New Clothes: In the Hans Christian Andersen tale, a cunning weaver sells the emperor a new set of clothes that is invisible to everyone who is unfit for their position, stupid or incompetent. When the emperor parades before his subject in his new clothes, an innocent child cries out, "But... but, he's naked!"

In EMS, the emperor is your operations manager, the weaver is Jack Stout, and the clothes are called system status management. I think you can figure out who the innocent child is.

The Midas Touch: The Greek legend of King Midas told of a greedy monarch who was granted his wish that everything he touched turned to gold. The tale is a tragic one, when Midas discovers that everything he touches, including his food and his loved ones, turns to gold.

I had a partner like that once, only what he wished for was a "really good trauma call," and everything we touched for the rest of that shift turned into something a lot warmer, smellier and ickier than gold. The lesson: Be careful what you wish for.

Can you think of any fairy tales with EMS endings? Chime in with your comments!

About the author


Kelly Grayson, NREMT-P, CCEMT-P, is a critical care paramedic in Louisiana. He has spent the past 18 years as a field paramedic, critical care transport paramedic, field supervisor and educator. He is a former president of the Louisiana EMS Instructor Society and board member of the LA Association of Nationally Registered EMTs.

He is a frequent EMS conference speaker and contributor to various EMS training texts, and is the author of the popular blog A Day In the Life of an Ambulance Driver. The paperback version of Kelly's book is available at booksellers nationwide. You can follow him on Twitter (@AmboDriver) or Facebook (www.facebook.com/theambulancedriverfiles), or email him at kelly.grayson@ems1.com.

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