1 : black slang; a gang member
2 : a type of rap music featuring aggressive misogynistic lyrics, often with reference to gang violence and urban street life
1 : to hit sharply and swiftly; strike
2 : a criminal charge; a prison sentence
3 : music; to talk using rhythm and rhyme, usually over a strong musical beat
4 : to have a long informal conversation with friends
Violence is a part of America. I don’t want to single out rap music. Let’s be honest. America’s the most violent country in the history of the world, that’s just the way it is. We’re all affected by it. That’s one of the frailties of the human condition; people fear that which is not familiar.
“Ya’ see, I didn’t really call you here because I was havin’ chest pain. It nothin’ like that at all. Ya see, I thinkin’ about killin’ myself.” As the fire engine accelerates away from us Kevin and I have a very different call on our hands than the one we thought it was going to be just a few seconds ago.
Getting called to the middle of the hood for chest pain is a common enough thing and we answer these calls on a daily basis. Today we happened to be just a few blocks away when the call information arrived on the Mobile Data Terminal (MDT). I turned the ambulance around and we were on scene in less than two minutes.
Sitting on a chair in front of an urban church outreach center was a man in his early forties. The pastor and church volunteers are comforting him as we walk up to see what’s going on. Holding his chest he tells us of the pain he’s feeling and how he wants to get checked out at the hospital. It’s an easy call and the assessment and treatment are so rote that we fall into auto pilot as we go through the motions.
Seeing the fire engine approaching from down the street I write the man’s name and birthday on my glove and hold my hand up high so the fire lieutenant can copy it down for his records without having to exit the engine. In seconds they are off to the next call and we are alone with the patient. Of course, that was before I knew the true nature of the call.
After our patient drops the bombshell on us, Kevin and I take a collective deep breath and one look between us confirms the sudden detour this call has taken. In our business suicidal ideation is taken very seriously. A person who is truly suicidal, who has ceased to care about their own life, may not care about other people’s lives. Therefore, we can be in danger when dealing with these people.
Our new patient, Lil’G, is quite a formidable man. He has scars on his face, one of which is consistent with a knife wound. He’s 240 pounds of compact, short, boxer’s build with huge upper body development. He’s seriously built like a smaller Mike Tyson. He jokes with Kevin because he had to pull out the fat person blood pressure cuff just to fit around his huge biceps. He does a muscle man flex and smiles showing me a gold tooth. I’m feeling very uneasy about this. I give Kevin a look that he understands. “I’ll be back in a second.”
“Hey, where you goin’?” He’s quick with predatory instincts, watching every movement – nothing escapes him.
“I just have to get the computer from the front.” It’s a half truth which I hope he doesn’t see through.
Walking up to the front of the rig I turn on the portable radio on my belt. Opening the front door I grab the computer and turn off the rig radio which can be heard from the patient area in the back. I stand in front of the engine compartment so I can keep an eye on Kevin through the windshield as I call in to dispatch on my portable.
“Medic-40 go ahead.” The radio crackles back to me.
“Medic-40, please send PD to our location, code-2, our chest pain call just turned into a 5150 with suicidal ideation. We’re code-4, for now.” The code-4 tells my dispatcher that we are not currently in danger. The ‘for now’ tells her that I don’t know how long that’s going to last.
I’m standing outside of the back doors as Kevin is doing further assessments on Lil’G. Kevin knows the drill: we have to stall as long as possible so PD can get here to write up the green sheet (5150). Without it we have fewer of the options we may well need in this case, like restraints and chemical sedation.
I’m watching Lil’G as Kevin continues with the 12-lead EKG. Lifting up his shirt I see the multiple GSW (gun shot wound) scars.
“Lil’G, how many times you been shot?” Anything to distract him and buy us some time.
“Yo, I been shot four times, stabbed two, and sliced up a couple. It’s hard man, growin’ up in the 70s.” He’s not referring to the decade – to him the 70s are the street numbers in his corner of the hood.
“You ever do time?” I’m thinking prison ripped could explain the boxer physique.
“Yeah, I did six year, fo’ bangin’. You know; sellin’ a little, had sum ho’s, and a little bit a shootn’.” He’s not talking about shooting up with heroin. “Yeah, I got a strike on me.” In this state it’s three strikes for felony convictions and you’re in prison for good.
Kevin’s still trying to stretch out the assessment as I’m typing on the computer. “You got any medical problems?”
“Yeah, I got PTSD, bipolar, paranoid schizophrenia, and depression, but I ain’t takin’ no meds for it.” FUCK ME!!! I’ve got a bipolar psych patient who’s off his meds, built like Tyson, and thinking about killing himself. I really need a raise.
Lil’G could shred both Kevin and I if he put his mind to it. Not to mention tear the ambulance apart. We’re walking a fine line here and we have to keep him on the good side of his bipolar disorder. I’ve watched manic bipolar patients cycle from happy to violent a dozen times in the course of a single transport. If this guy cycles on us we’re fucked.
Despite the lethal potential of Lil’G he’s actually pretty engaging. He has a fast wit and keen observation skills. He decides I look like the silver terminator from Judgment Day, in reference to my hair style and clean cut white boy appearance. Seeing as the terminator impersonated a cop through most of the movie I’m not sure I like the reference.
“Yo man, that’s your new name, I’m gonna call you T2.” He has a full bodied laugh with muscles rippling to the diaphragmatic contractions. Great, I have a street name.
And just like that Lil’G cycles on us. Yet not to a violent nature – quite the contrary. Right there in the back of the ambulance he starts rapping. With perfect tempo and surprisingly colorful depictions he tells us what’s on his mind in the only way he knows how.
I’m on the microphone… gotta do it quick.
But never give a care… I ain’t scared to hit a bitch.
Gotta hit her from the back… nigga back side.
I don’t give a fuck nigga… it’s time for a wild ride.
Call me Lil’G… when you see me.
I see niggas on the street… trying to be me.
I got these knuckles man… I make ‘em laugh man.
Never give a care… put ‘em in a bath man.
Gotta do it good… cuz you know what’s right.
I never give a care nigga… cuz I’m hell’a tight.
I come from 69ville… nigga eight-five.
Never give a care… boy I don’t duck and hide.
I’m born on the east side… I’m going east bound.
You a block head… whose name is Charlie Brown.