My heart sinks as the tones drop. I know it's something bad; I can feel it in the air.
"Station 1," the dispatcher begins, "respond to 852 Westbury Lane for an unresponsive male." I look around; it's just Drew and me. Everyone else is still at the hospital on another call. Panicked, I pick up the radio.
"Station 1, central."
"Go ahead Station 1."
"Medic 1 will be en route; requesting ALS."
"10-4, Station 1."
As Drew starts the medic, I hear dispatch tone out for ALS, and I pray that somebody answers.
"Medic 11, Medic 1."
"Go ahead Medic 11."
"Medic 11 is still out of service, and will remain so for a while." Shit. Drew looks at me and shrugs.
"Hell, they need somebody," he says as we pull into the driveway.
A fifty-something year old male weighing well over three hundred pounds lies on the ground, breathing irregularly, with a glassy look in his eye. His daughter stands nearby, obviously too traumatized to act. She says something, but the words are fuzzy. I look at Drew, and he looks back with the same scared stare.
"Central, Medic 1."
"Go ahead Central," I say as my voice shakes.
"Medic 1, no ALS is available."
"10-4," I manage to squeak out as I look down at our patient. Drew simply shakes his head.

I sit bolt upright in bed, too startled to worry about the cold sweat I'm in. I feel around as I try to figure out where I am. I'm in my room, in my bed, and it's four in the morning. It was a dream. It was a dream. I pinch myself hard to shock myself back into reality. There was no dying patient, no distressed daughter.
My phone is flashing blue--a text message. I flip it open and see it's from Drew.
"Sam, we need to run a call together now that I'm an EMT!"
I try not to laugh as I type back "Yeah, but how about we wait until I'm ALS." I can't wait to explain that, I think to myself as I roll over.

Managing to ignore a hypnic jerk as I fall back to sleep, I hear it again.
"Station 1, respond to 375 Mill Avenue for an unresponsive female."


Anonymous said...


That was a very good story. What is 'ALS' anyway?

Patrick said...

Relish your BLS days. I've been a paramedic for 25 years, and still miss my days as a EMT-A (it was Ambulance in the days before Basic). Knowing what to do to support paramedics, having stuff ready for them before they knew they needed it, no pressure because I wasn't in charge.

The grass is always greener, girl.

Fyremandoug said...

BLS = Basic Life Support

ALS = Advanced Life Support

I started out as a first responder and moved up to EMT-B amd then got out for 4 years and now back to First Responder I enjoy being a BLS provider and support anyone who wants to be an ALS provider. Good luck on moving up the ladder Sam

emergencyem said...

Oh Sam...what stories I could tell you.

We don't even have ALS at one of my services...often time I'm highest in command! Of course, we have aggresive protocols, so it's all good!

Scott said...

Sam, good story. When are you going ALS? If that ever did happen, you WOULD have fire fighters nearby to help heft him into the 'lance, right? Only CPR on the way to the 'spital STILL beats dying in your house with NO CHANCE!

Anonymous said...


Great story, glad it was a dream.


TrekMedic251 said...

Found you via the Ambulance Driver. Nice blog. May have to come back again!