The fire environment can be strange, dangerous, fascinating, and terrifying. The emergency medical side of the fire department holds untold strangeness. You simply cannot imagine the things we see.
People come in every configuration physically, and mentally I have discovered. You would stand there flatfooted, dumbstruck, mouth hanging open and think to yourself, what the fuck?
How did this happen? What were they thinking? Were they thinking? I had these thoughts dealing with people that were stone cold sober, pour a little booze, or dope, or mental illness on top of things and then deal with it.
We were the problem solvers after all someone had called 911 and needed help, so get busy and help. Oh and the hardest ones were the ones when you opened the door, stepped in, and were overcome with a gigantic urge to… laugh.
Some of these things you felt so much like just laughing and some did. But you can’t do that and if your crew couldn’t handle it they had a backup plan. “I’ll go get the (insert any word here) from the truck” and wham they evaporated like spirits.
There you stood with this event in front of you and people that truly needed help. The desire to judge the public can be strong, but I worked very hard on not judging people, Lord knows I had my own problems. At least you resisted the urge to judge them there on the spot. Let us get back to the truck and there was a conversation to have. But not right then, not at the moment of need.
So you are thinking like what Tim? Give us a for example. So I will. One that came up more than once was a report of severe abdominal pain. Many people get hit by illness or trauma and have mind numbing belly pain, one of the hardest differential diagnosis to make, and a real bitch because you can’t give pain meds to abdominal pain that really pisses of docs.
So one of your best friends to gain clues on a bad tummy ache was your stethoscope. You could listen to the belly and learn from it. Were there bowel sounds? Was the gut rolling and grumbling or was it silent? Great information there. So I would whip out my ears and take a listen. On the odd calls there was many times an extra sound.
It was a low constant rumble; it didn’t vary or change just a steady tone. The first time you hear it, it can be confusing, you just don’t expect what seems to be a manmade sound emanating from the bowel. The second time it is unmistakable, you know the sound and you know the cause.
The thing making the noise can vary widely in description but not in function and when it showed up in a male rectum it wasn’t expected. Now I’m not judging anyone here, we all have our ways to satisfaction, we all have curiosity to explore. So understand I am not putting these occurrences in any category other than “you poor bastard”.
Can you imagine getting liquored up one night while the wife is at girls night, sitting around the house feeling a little ignored and frisky at the same time and then you get a thought. I wonder what that would be like. With the help of some tequila and a few beers you overcome your fears and plunge in.
Then it happens, this thing gets away from you and it slips from your fingers and into the void. Can you imagine the panic that must strike at this point? I mean what do you do? I’m sure all kinds of un-admitted attempts are made to retrieve this thing. The wife will be home soon, how do you explain your predicament?
You can’t call a friend, I mean you could call a friend you just won’t. Finally the thought comes to you, call 911, that’s what they are there for right? I can’t imagine how long you have to actually hold that phone before you push those three buttons. You’ve taken long enough to figure out the story you are gonna tell, I know that because I’ve heard everything from what really happened in plain honest language to alien abduction.
Good news for us, we don’t do retrievals we just give rides to definitive care facilities. Rarely saw this behavior repeated, but it did happen.