We’re called for a woman feeling faint after accidently leaving the stove on. Low priority response. We pull up to the house and see only a police car out in front. No fire department. A woman waves me in the front door. She is smiling and seems perfectly healthy. I ask her if she is the patient at the same time I get a powerful whiff of gas. No, she says, it’s my mother, she’s in the kitchen. Already I am feeling light-headed so I follow her in and find her mother laying against the stove with a nonrebreather on and a police officer kneeling by her. I ask what happened. She says she isn’t certain. I touch her forehead. It is cool and clammy. The gas smell is overwhelming. You need to go to the hospital, I say, and uh, maybe we should go outside, I say.

We get her up, she seems a little groggy. I tell my partner who has followed me in to set the stretcher up outside.

The officer and I help the woman walk out to the porch. On one hand, she just had some kind of syncopal episode, on the other, the gas smell is not a hint of gas, it is an atomic bomb of gas — I feel like I am inside a gas balloon, my head feels so big. I’m worried I will bump it against the ceiling. We get her on the stretcher and out to the ambulance. We have a hard time getting the stretcher in the back, and getting it to latch. My partner who has been driving an ambulance for thirty years, gets in front and takes off. The problem is the back doors are wide open. I shout hey, man! He apologizes and I shut the doors without managing to fall out.

I am doing all my care on the go because the hospital we are going to is far enough away that I will have time to do it all. I put in an IV, put her on the monitor, put her back on the 02 just to clear her out. That gas smell was strong! Before we left my partner told the officer to call the fire department, told him that a couple times because the officer seemed a little spacy. The ride to the hospital is rough, but I try not to yell at my partner because he is my friend and I don’t want him to know that I think he is driving like a lunatic. Each bump jostles me. The monitor comes off the bench, IV supplies fall out of the open cabinent.

But I manage. I have my routine. I am use to bumps. I check the woman’s sugar because that is just part of my routine.


Well, there you go. I give her some D50 and suddenly instead of a slowspeaking clammy old woman she is cracking jokes with me, although she does still admit to a headache and feels tipsy. The two of us are laughing hysterically. We both shout at the driver. Hey buddy, you missed a bump.

When my partner opens the back door at the hospital, I look down as he does and sees we are about six feet short of the landing. Back it up some more, I say. He closes the door, and then the next thing I know I hear a scraping, and then he opens the door again, and looks a little sheepish. I get out and see he has hit a pole holding up the ED overhang.

Good one, I say.

He hangs his head. Don’t tell on me now, he says. I won’t hear the end of it.

While waiting in the triage line, another crew comes in and looks at us. Which one of you was driving? Not me. Not him. Our driver, he’s — he’s not here. We fired him. He’s dead. We’re cracking ourselves up. They look at us like we are high or something.

We are joking with the woman about the gas in the house, how if she lit a match, there would be no more house. Yeah, that’d be a blast, my partner says. He tries to keep a straight face waiting for everyone to get his double meaning. You’re killing me, I say. We both laugh some more. You should be on Johnny Carson, I say.

He makes me drive back. I ask if he will blame it on me if the ER overhang collapses when I pull out. He gets out of the ambulance and goes and stands on a corner to make it look like he has nothing to do with me or the crookedly parked ambulance. I pull out with no problem. I never hit the pole, he says getting back in. There was microscopic air between the car and the pole – that’s why the roof is still standing.

Yeah, right, I say, as I head toward the highway.

That call was a gas, he says.

Roll down the windows, I say, you’re killing me.


  • Ian says:

    Peter,I just wanted to say thanks for some great writing…. I love checking in with your blog.Cheers!

  • Snoop says:

    I concur wholeheartedly with Ian. Tom Reynolds over at Random Acts of Reality ( has had a big hit in Britain with his book Blood, Sweat and Tea. I am sure a book with your posts would be a tremendous success.

  • Eric says:

    Peter – That story is hilarious and frightening at the same time. Your writing makes it very real.Thanks!

  • CBEMT says:

    Sounds like you and your partner should’ve put yourselves on O2 for the ride in, although that would’ve looked pretty strange…

  • PC says:

    Thanks for the coments.I did have the thought later of providing care with a non-rebreather on the patient, one on me, and another on my friend driving.As far as doing a book based on the blog, at some point I would like too. It will depend more on my publisher and whether or not they think there is a big enough market for them to make enough money that it is worth their while. Reynolds’ had the advantage of having a huge following. I am hoping that with time my blog will become better known and develop a large following of its own, and that might help convince my publisher. I have not yet even broached the issue with them. My fear is if I bring it up before its time, I will be turned down. Where if I wait, I may not only get the go ahead, but get a good offer. In the meantime, I am just going to keep writing. The more I write, the more material I will eventually be able to choose from. I am in no real hurry.Note: When I say my publisher I refer to the company that published my first two books. I have a contract with them that gives them the right of first refusal to my next nonfiction book. Other than that I don’t think I am really on their daily radar screen. Twice a year they send my ageant the report of my book sales for the previous six month period, and then she passes it on to me.

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