The turkey bowl diaries

Chest pain, entrapment and altered mental status: A true-ish story of a typical night shift


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This story is true, except for the parts that aren't.  

1830: I arrive at the station about 30 minutes before shift change. I try to get there early to put my gear on the chase truck, check my equipment and make sure things are good to go for the night. My partner, Betty, usually gets there about 10 minutes after I do. But I want to have all the narcs signed and checked off, and get the shift change things done so we can run out and get some food.

1840: Betty arrives. The first thing she says is, "I need some coffee. Stat."

1850: The off-going crew hands over their radios, pagers and keys, and bids us a good evening. Betty and I head out to the truck to zip over to Wawa. For those unfamiliar with Wawa, it's a convenience store that makes excellent subs and, around this time of year, the turkey bowl. It's just what it sounds like. A big bowl full of mashed potatoes, stuffing, turkey, gravy and cranberry sauce. It's become my autumn tradition. When I'm on the night shift, I try to get one. It's comfort food to the nth degree.

1852: Dispatched to a 55-year-old complaining of chest pain. Turkey bowl will have to wait.

1925: Cleared from the hospital following the transport of a patient with no real complaint. She was a bit hypertensive, so I drew blood, started a line and rode in. Now, back on the turkey bowl hunt.

1935: Arrived at Wawa. Walk into the smell of freshly brewed coffee and turkey goodness.

1936: Dispatched to an overdose.

1945: Canceled by the BLS unit. Apparently, this overdose wasn't; back to the Wawa.

1952: Arrive back at the Wawa. I placed my order, received my food, paid the bill and went to the truck.

2007: Arrive back at the station. I took a seat in front of the TV and removed my turkey bowl lid.

2008: Dispatched to a motor vehicle accident with ejection and entrapment. They're sending a helicopter, too. This might be something; the turkey bowl must wait.

2025: Arrive on the scene to find a teenager ejected from the vehicle and the car on top of him. He's pinned but conscious and oriented. He’s not complaining of anything other than some leg pain. Luckily, the car flipped over in a farmer's field with freshly plowed soft dirt. The patient is extricated and moved to the ambulance. Cancel the helicopter. While doing a secondary assessment, my stomach grumbles so loudly that the EMTs can hear it. Think longingly of turkey bowl waiting at the station.

2125: Clear the hospital and back en route to the station. My turkey bowl is probably cold now. I don't care.

2133: The pager goes off again. Chest pain. Are you kidding me?

2205: Clearing the hospital; we need fuel. Got to stop and get it before I can shove my face into my now undoubtedly ice-cold turkey bowl.

2216: Getting fuel.

2219: The pager goes off again. This time, seizures.

2220: I groan, resigned to the fact that I will starve tonight. I might waste away to nothing. I would sell my soul for a package of saltines.

2230: Canceled by BLS. Quickly make a U-turn and point the truck toward the station.

2245. Back at the station, sitting in front of the TV, I kicked back in the recliner with a cold turkey bowl in my lap.

2246: I have a bite. It is pure sublime joy.

2247: The pager goes off yet again. Altered mental status at a nearby nursing home.

Yeah, I ate that turkey bowl at about 1:30 a.m. And you know what? It was outstanding.

I'm back on the night shift tonight. I don't think I'm going to get a turkey bowl. Sandwiches are safer; they don't make the pager go off.


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