There's this thing I do when a call comes out in the middle of the night, waking me up. Well, let's be honest, it's usually Drew that wakes me up, after I sleep right through that annoying ringing in the hallway. I wake up, stick my feet in my boots, grab my glasses, and curse. I curse like a sailor all the way out to the medic. I usually stop long enough to mark up the radio, but that's about it.

It's one long string of profanity, punctuated by the occasional article or noun. It has more to do with being woken up than actually running the call, I think, but regardless, it happens every time.

So tonight is no different.
"Sam, let's go."
"Uggggh, but it's chest pain, that's ALS and buhhhh..."
"Yeah but the paramedic is sending us to check it out. We've got Eric; he's a medic."
"Fine...let's go."

And then starts the cursing. A heavy length of profanity leaves my mouth, and then I pause, breathing for a second before starting in again. Drew just laughs from the back, and Eric barely acknowledges anything as he drives. Nearly running us off the road, I curse louder, this time including his name.

"Is that really necessary," I sigh, "you have the medic pegged at 80, so you're probably going at least 90!"

Well, I say that, only with more color to it.

I see our destination approaching on the right, and take a deep breath. I close my eyes, rub my temples, and I'm ready.

"Hello," I say with a smile that doesn't betray me, "my name is Sam; I'm with the rescue squad."

But my smile fades quickly as I take in the situation. He's in his late fifties, and clutching his chest. He breathes heavily, about twice as fast as the normal man, and I see sweat dripping from his forehead. The cursing starts in again in my thoughts, but this time it's due to the man's condition.

Eric and Drew's concern shows in their face as well, and after getting a set of vital signs, I stay with our patient as they get the stretcher. I glance out the door and see Eric on the phone to the paramedic.

The radio interrupts my thoughts, cutting in with a prealert.

"Station 1," I hear, and my heart drops immediately, "headache." Three of us are tied up on this call, and the paramedic is the only one at the station, who we desperately need. Getting this sorted out is going to be more than difficult. I curse some more in my head.

We load our patient quickly and I set up an IV as Drew drives back to the station to swap out crews. I try to spike the bag while maintaining my balance, but I know that's hopeless. I'm thrown back into the IV box while yelping a bit. I finally manage to get it set up about the time we're pulling back into the station. Drew and I hop out as the paramedic gets in, and we run to a different ambulance.

"Medic 2 is en route," I pant into the radio as we pull back out of the driveway. I flip through the map book and find the address. It's way out there, and I let myself relax for a moment.

Dispatch comments on our rip-and-run saw that a 20 year old female heard something pop in her head. My b.s. flag shoots up immediately, and I relax a bit more, even though the cursing continues inside my mind.

We arrive on scene and I see a woman, two men, and a dog in the living room. The dog seems to have the main goal in life of tripping me. He almost succeeds twice.

"Ma'am, can you tell me what's going on today?"
"I've had a migraine all day long, and then I coughed and heard something pop in my head."
"Did it hurt any worse after that?"
"Well, no."
"Okay. How bad is your pain on a scale from one to ten?"
"Like a seven."
"Do you want to go to the hospital?"
"Do either of you want to follow behind us or ride up front," Drew asks the two men sitting sleepily on the couch.
"Oh hell naw," is the response her boyfriend offers up. Great.

She wants to go to Clearview regional, where I work, so I pull my ID out of my pocket and clip it to my shirt. I ask her some more questions, get her vital signs, and get her situated in the ambulance.

We take off, and she says nothing. She answers my questions, but sits in relative silence. She asks me once if I can give her anything for pain, but I tell her that at my level of certification, I can't. Something about her just isn't quite right, though. She never looks me in the eye when she answers a question, just when she asks for pain medicine. She picks at her nails and yawns.

Switching the radio over, I call in report.

"Good morning, Clearview, this is EMT Montgomery. I'm en route to your facility with a twenty year old female whose chief complaint is of a migraine. Patient is alert and oriented to person, time, and place, and appears in minor distress. Vitals are within normal limits, and patient has no other complaints, except for nausea. Interestingly enough, Clearview, patient states that she coughed a few hours ago and felt something pop in her head. There was no increase of her pain. Not requesting any orders as I'm sure you may have guessed; do you have any questions?"

There's a brief pause on the other line, and when they key up the microphone, I hear some laughing.

"Uh, negative Medic 2...wait...did you say she heard something pop?"
"That's affirmative, Clearview."

Another pause, some more laughter.

"10-4, Medic 2, see you when you get here!"

We pull into their bay and park next to Eric's ambulance. Unloading the patient, he and I exchange sighs. We move her to the hospital bed, I give my report to the nurse, and hand her my already-finished narrative.

"Hey, Montgomery," I hear from the EMS room, "you call in that report?"
"Oh, hey!" I see one of my favorite paramedics as I walk in.
"So that was you?"
"Yeah," I smile sheepishly.
"Loved it. Enough facts with enough sarcasm; I give it two thumbs up," he laughs.
"Aw, shucks, you're too sweet."
"Hey, I'm just telling it like it is."

I hear the prealert again, and I'm cursing more, praying it's not us. We climb into the medic, and I'm relieved to hear another station toned out. Finally, the cursing stops.


roaming_gnome said...

I am heartily glad that I am not the only one who lets go with a steady stream of profanity when woken up in the middle of the night. I am also a source of amusement for my partners.

Anonymous said...

Get another job, you're obviously over this one.
Patients don't have medical knowledge and can think they're very sick.

a day in the life said...

I would have to say that ANYONE that wakes up all hours of the morning to take care of people in need isn't over their job. I, for one, don't think I could do it. It doesn't matter what you do, Sam, when you wake up. All that matters is that you do wake up.

You're still my hero, regardless of what Mr. Anonymous says.

Keep up the amazing work.

Rach said...

I used to do that all the time, Sam... which was especially amusing for my Israeli partners because their knowledge of cursing didn't hold a candle to mine (and that was during the day!)

Of course, the worse is when you get cancelled at 3:00 am, but that's a whole other post...

Anonymous said...

i think your favorite sentence for those 3am wake ups are "Whyy.. No f**king- Damn!"

You always manage to say that lol

EE said...


The patient wants some dope. It is painfully obvious. The patient is also impeding the care of a very sick man...

Obviously, you have no medical experience.

Epijunky said...

Girl, I have done my share of cursing and I'm sure I will in the future.

Well written :) I've missed ya!

Anonymous said...

clearly the first anonymous poster have nothing better to do than belittle the accomplishments of a clearly very accomplished woman. Sam, don't ever change.

Gertrude said...

I cuss my butt off in teh middle of the night. right up until I walk in to the door. Then if you make me mad during the trip I;ll cuss some more in the truck when I am rid of you. No one is cheery in the middle of the night. My cranky pants are big!

Jedi Master Daryl said...


That makes me sad that idiots think they can use 911 as a taxi and a for a fix. And most of the time they get it. Why can't those #@&%tards just go buy their fixes at the local crack house like every other junkie? Oh, the answer is that ta dollars pay for the ride, and if their pain story is good enough, their fix.

This was a great post. It just shows how bad it can be when bullshit calls stop you guys from doing what you are there for; which is saving lives. Sad!

As for the cussing... it isn't proper for a lady to curse. LOL! Just kidding. I have worked construction and EMS--I've seen some creative "poetry" over the years! LOL! And of course I understand that sometimes you can love a job and still curse about it! :-)

I am sorry that Mr. Stooopidhead anonymously hurt your feelings!

Anonymous said...

Clearly, the first anonymous commenter needs to get a life, or become an EMT and see how it really is. Open your eyes boy!