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Home > Topics > Weird EMS News
October 30, 2012
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Behind the Patient: Street Portraits
by Michael Morse

A story of cursed calls

From imaginary voices to the self-proclaimed 'son of Satan,' the spooky calls you hope you never have to deal with

By Michael Morse

Noon. Hour 19 of a 38. Sixteen calls so far, long way to go. Adam and I are riding back to the station.

"The sun is hurting my eyes."
"That's because you lost your sunglasses."
"I think something far more sinister is going on."

Flashback: Seven hours ago...

0523hrs. Pre-dawn. Dispatched to a tenement house in South Providence for a suicidal, pregnant 20-year-old with arm lacerations.

I stand on the third floor landing listening to Oliver, one of the firefighters sent along with us just in case, talk to the girl and her boyfriend.

I can't get up the rest of the stairs. All forward progress has stopped; the guys from Engine 10 and two Providence police officers clog the narrow, dimly lit stairway. I'm quite happy to wait at the end of the line and listen.

"Did you try to hurt yourself?" asks Oliver.
"She cut her wrist with a broken crack pipe," a male voice from above declares.
"Were you smoking crack?"
"Not us, she's pregnant," says the voice.

The line turns toward me and heads down the stairs. I lead the march into the street and toward the rescue. A pretty, pale woman joins me in back.

"I'm all set," I say to the cops and firefighters, Adam goes in front to drive. My patient's cuts are superficial, scratches really. She stares intently at me as I begin my report.

"What happened?"

"He was going to hurt me," she states in a regal voice, redolent of centuries past, "He planned to cut me and drink my blood."

I look over the edge of the paper and see her eyes focused intently on mine, not blinking, not moving, as if I'm prey.

"Why did he want to do that?"

"I stopped him by cutting myself," she replies, ignoring my question, still staring.

I'm a little unnerved. Her skin is translucent, even paler in the dim light of the rescue. Her bloodshot eyes bore through me. I can't wait to get to the hospital.

Thankfully the rescue slows, turns and backs into the rescue bay. I quickly stand and help my patient out the door. She clutches my arm with her wounded one, and some blood is transferred.

"Thank you, you've been very kind," she said. I wouldn't say she's smiling, but her face shows amusement, as if we're in on something together. She continues to stare, and as I leave, I look over my shoulder. She is still staring, still amused.

0730hrs. Dispatched to a methadone clinic for a man who can't walk.

I uncross my arms from the front of my chest, open my eyes and rise from my slumber. It's warm, and the sun hurts my skin. I roll down my sleeves and squint into the glare.

A troll-like man stands at the bottom of the hill at the entrance to the clinic. He stares at us as we pass. I walk inside the clinic and ask who called 911, but nobody answers.

The troll runs up the hill, stands in front of the rescue and tells me he can't walk.

"You just ran up the hill."
"I can't get on the bus."
"But you can run up a hill?"

The troll goes bananas, starts taking off his clothes to show me his MRSA scars, his deformities, and he tells me he is HIV-positive with hepatitis C.

"I need to go to the hospital."

"Get in."

I'm tired. The troll is annoying. I can't understand a word he is saying as he rants and raves all the way to the hospital, less than one mile away. His language is foreign, possibly Latin. I swear his head turns 360 degrees when I look away.

He stares at me after we drop him off at the hospital and doesn't stop. The stare stays with me all the way back to the station. I enter my office, turn out the light and close the shades. The sun still hurts. I can't wait till nighttime.

Three calls come and go with nothing strange happening. I think I'll be OK.

1436 hrs. Called to a high-rise for a man with chest pains.

Adam gets in the truck and starts it. I say something; he jumps, startled, and says he didn't see me sitting there.

Interesting. I'll have to find a mirror and see if there is a reflection.

We arrive at the scene and find a 72-year-old Haitian man with a dried chicken claw tied around his neck with a loose rawhide cord.

"Are you a voodoo priest?" I ask.

"Yes," he replies. "And, I'm the son of Satan." He also has hepatitis C and HIV.

As the call progresses and I treat the son of Satan, who also happens to be having chest pain with ST elevations, I find him to be quite pleasant. He is deathly afraid of needles but tells me I have a gift as I sink one into his arm. The blood is rich and red as it drips from his arm onto the 4x4.

"It is fascinating, this blood," I think to myself as I finish up the IV, give him some aspirin and nitro and ride to the hospital. He shakes my hand and stares into my eyes as I'm about to leave.

I have a difficult time looking away.

Five more calls, nothing strange. If a Catholic priest calls 911 tonight, I'll start to worry.

Darkness descends. I'm in my office, lights out, waiting for night to descend. It's the final warm Friday night of the season and should be a bloodbath.

Part of me hopes so.

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
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