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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."

"Hmm..."

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."

"Hmm..."

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."

"Hmm."

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

"Okay."

"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."

"Hmm..."

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?"

"Hmm."

"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."

"Hmm..."

0600

"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 rescue captain with the Providence Fire Department and the author of Rescuing Providence and Responding. He has worked on engine, ladder and rescue companies during his 21-year career. His current assignment is Rescue Company 5. Michael blogs at RescuingProvidence.com.
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