I’m a little disoriented as I sit in the front seat of an ambulance that is foreign to me and the unfamiliar dispatcher sends me to posts in my mostly urban county which are obscured by code numbers that I don’t understand. The computer on the console draws lines on a map telling us where to go as we fumble with the switches trying to find the siren.
“Medic-40, delta level response for a seventeen-delta-three, fall-not alert, switch to fire control three.”
“Uhh, Medic-40 copy.” What the hell is a seventeen-delta-three and how do I switch to fire control three?
Having finally found the siren and switched to the proper response frequency we are following the line on the computer in hopes of finding the call location. Rolling through traffic I see the familiar landmarks and denizens of the hood hanging on their normal corners. It’s somehow comforting to feel a connection with the hood on a day that seems so different in every other aspect.
Pulling up to the corner I see my neighbor, Darren, the lieutenant on the fire crew that beat us to the scene by only thirty seconds. Sitting on the stairs in front of him is Chauntel, a frequent flyer that I recognize from just last week, and her husband standing next to her holding a huge purse.
“Hey Darren, what’s going on?” The rest of the firefighters on Darren’s crew have bailed on taking care of the patient and are poking around my ambulance to admire the equipment and new ambulance smell.
“You know Chauntel right? Looks like she took too many of her Vicodin and wasn’t able to keep her feet under her while walking down the stairs. She’s not altered or anything, just feeling a little dizzy and complaining of knee pain.”
“Cool, I got it.” I kneel down to look at Chauntel as Darren joins his crew in opening cabinets on my rig. “Hi Chauntel, am I taking you to the hospital today or are you okay to go home?”
“I best go to the hospital, you know, jus to get checked out. I don’t think my Vicodins are work’n too well cuz I still got the pain in my knee.”
I help Chauntel onto the gurney and raise it up with the push of a button. Power gurneys; finally a career-extending piece of equipment.
As my partner drives us to the hospital I continue with my assessment of Chauntel.
“How bad is the pain in your knee?”
“It’s a ten outta ten! An’ it feels sharp!” Awesome, she knows our pain scale without having to be prompted.
“Do you want some Morphine for the pain Chauntel?”
“Na, I can’t have Morphine, I allergic to it! You got any Dilaudid?” Classic!
“Chauntel, you know I don’t carry Dilaudid. And when did you become allergic to Morphine? You weren’t allergic to it last week.”
“Well, I is now!” I’m not one to judge her pain level, or her, but the drug seeking mentality is fairly transparent to us at this point. I guess some things never change.
“How do you like the new uniforms Chauntel? Did you notice the shirt’s a different color?” Just making small talk as there’s not really that much to treat on this call.
“Oh, is those new? Now you mention it you got some pretty eyes. Is you married?” Seriously, that’s what you notice. Bloody hell with the eyes again!
“Yeah Chauntel, I’m married, and so are you. As a matter of fact your husband is sitting in the front seat.”
In a conspiratorial, quiet voice. “Well, he ain’t really my husband, I jus’ call him that. You mind if I take a nap on the way? I feeling kinda tired.”
“Go ahead Chauntel, we’ll be there in about ten minutes.” I switch to the captain’s chair to try to figure out how to use the new computer.
Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle. You put water into a teapot, and it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash! Be water, my friend.
Bruce Lee, TAO of Jeet Kune Do