The Grand Tour

You drive the streets of the city or towns where you work and you go by houses, intersections, businesses where you have done calls. The longer you are at it, the more memory pins are dropped on your street map.

Over here on our left was the great lumber yard fire. I sat on that standby for 11 hours. The first hour was fascinating, watching the spectacular flames jump and burn as fire companies from all over the region tried to douse it. But after a couple hours, I was bored. I was a new medic then and wanted to be doing calls, wanted to be in the action.

On the right is the Laundromat where we pick up the drunks, and do more than a fair share of seizures. Rest in peace, Eli, Papa Santo, Ronnie Ray, Annie Moore, and others whose names I have forgotten. I did a pedestrian struck up ahead here. I saw the entire thing happen, car hit the young man threw him straight up onto the windshield. I was on the radio when it happened. “471, we’re clear ref…Holy Shit!” Apologies to the FCC.

See the apartments back down behind the barber shop. I’ve done lots of calls in there, old people not feeling well mostly. There used to be a four hundred pounder up on the second floor who’d get back pain and couldn’t get out of bed. A BLS crew called us for a lift assist the first time I went there. I gave him 15 of morphine (in three doses of 5). Instead of us having to lift him and carry him down the stairs, he was able to stand and walk down to the ambulance. Worked every time after that. Out in the parking lot, I did a code — man behind the wheel still as death with an inhaler in his hand.

Let’s turn down this street up ahead. See that house – crack house, did lots of ODs in there. Gave narcan to some heroin ODs. Ran a strip and called the time on some others. Also did a major trauma out front. Guy jumped out of the window after being chased by the police. Landed on his face. He was seizing when we got there. Severe head injury with multiple fractures. We were in the trauma room in four minutes.

Over there we did a minor MVA. An insurance adjuster rear ended another car. By the time we got there seven people were either laying on the ground or walking around holding their backs all claiming to be hurt with more joining them. Only one of them had been in the car at the time of the accident. “I’m going to the hospital and I’m going to get paid,” a toothless woman cried. “Com’on Jimmy, Let’s go the hospital. We’re all going to get paid!”

Store on the corner, the grocer got shot. He was laying on the ground on his back, moving his arms, a snow angel blood print surrounding him. Behind him were several avacodos that had exploded, spreading guacamole on the shelves. That house there, I pulled up as the fire department was coming out of the house, two firefighters carrying a lifeless child. It was my second pedicode in a week. We didn’t have the EZ-IO then. After I tubed the child, I used a bone needle, screwing it into the leg, but the needle bent and I couldn’t get it out. I’m tugging and pulling and its stuck. I finally got it out just as we got to the ED. They worked the kid another thirty minutes, but he was asystole the entire time. Turns out he was a special needs kid and his death wasn’t unexpected. Still the family took it hard. The mother was beside herself. I was haunted by her primal wail.

Mrs. Jonesbury used to live on the first floor apartment of that house. She’d call in the middle of the night. Big heavy woman with swollen extremities, too weak to get off the toilet. We’d come in and wipe the shit off her legs and help her back into bed. Sometimes we’d bring in clean hospital sheets and change her bed for her. I wasn’t on the day they found her dead, and ran the six second strip. I would have liked to have been there for her, to say a couple of words beyond just calling out the time of presumption.

I have stories for almost every street on the city map. I can tell you about the poorest streets and I can tell you about the mansions on Scarborough and Prospect Streets, (the banker’s wife cutting her wrists sideways and laying in the bathtub waiting for us to come), the office suites up in city place where a man with a view looking out over all the city, crying that he might be dying, and wanting his attractive secretary to call his wife and her seeming upset by that, the man testifying before the legislature whose internal defibrillator kept going off every time he tried to answer a question, or the cook passed out on the grease caked floor of one of the city’s five-star restaurants, while the orders kept going out all around us.

This city like all cities has its stories. You could tour the historic homes, the insurance companies, the old state house, the parks, the art museum, the riverfront, and learn about Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe and Samuel Colt and other historical figures from the city’s past, or you could ride with me* on the medic’s grand tour.

“Step right up
Come on in…
There are things I could tell you,
Some things I know will chill you to the bone.”
-The Grand Tour
George Jones

* Or any medic that has been here more than a couple years.


  • Mike says:

    How true brother! Seems like I give the same story when I get a fresh partner.

  • Cs says:

    In three years I could give one heck of a tour of my city, I can’t imagine what a decade would do.

  • tim says:

    That wail of a parent losing a child is an unbearable sound. I can recall it with absolute clarity, when other details have faded to background noise.

  • Cyndi says:

    Your story sounds like so many of us who have been doing this for more than a couple of years. Some of the things we see and experience, if people only knew! It’s so great to have places like this where we can share our stories with one another. It lets me know that I’m not the only cot-jockey lunatic out there! HaHa Thanks from this EMT for all you all do! God bless, and may your siren wail loud enough and your lights be bright enough, but if the road rises up to meet you, well, may there be another crew close by! LOL

  • Hap says:

    After twenty-five years I do that to my family as we drive through the city. They hate it.

  • kiwimedic says:

    Well written. It is the same all over the world….

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *