There are two police cruisers outside the building and a fire engine. We just drove lights and sirens completely across town to get here. The call is virtually identical to the previous call we did where we also raced across town lights and sirens. We are telling ourselves that we did such a great job on the last one they are sending us on this one because we are an elite “contain” squad.
The outside doors are held open for us as we come in with our stretcher and gear on it. We go down two hallways and then into an office where we find the two police officers and four firefighters as well as several people who work in the building.
Our patient — a six-year-old boy — is being held by the principal. The boy kicks and screams and squirms. “Get out of my school!” he shouts at a police officer. He has been acting up in school today, the school nurse tells us. A firefighter hands me a piece of paper with the patient’s name, date of birth, address, and his medical diagnoses: ADHD, mood disorder. He is on trazadone. He has no allergies.
The last patient — the eight year dervish — we got to come quietly by promising him he could bring his blankie and letting him walk over to our stretcher through the carnage of the nurse’s office — he had thrown books, papers, bumper stickers all over the floor. I introduce myself to this new child and tell him we are going to take an easy ride to the hospital. “Get out of my school!” He screams and breaks loose from the principal’s grip and runs into the neighboring classroom. We corner him. He tries to evade us. I grab him as he runs past. I pick him up by his belt and carry him over to our stretcher. He is supended three feet in the air, kicking his legs and arms like a frantic swimmer. He can’t weigh but forty pounds. I set him on the stretcher and he wiggles and squirms and screams, and tries to unbuckle himself as soon as we buckle him in. He may think he can escape, but he is easily contained just by holding a leg or arm. He has no physical strength. Someone suggests restraints, but they don’t appear neccessary. I can hold him on the stretcher simply by extending my arm.
Out in the ambulance, he shouts at me and punches me. I look at him. “Really,” I say. He stares at me, then punches me again.
“My five year old daughter hits twice as hard as that,” I say.
He hits me again, then looks at me for my reaction.
“Give it up. You are not achieving anything with that.”
He screams and calls me a swear word.
“My goodness,” I say. “You might break my ear drums, except I am old and half deaf. Scream away.”
He screams again and stops and waits for my response.
“Didn’t do it.”
He crosses his arms and pouts.
I can’t help but smile looking at his frown.
He reaches to open a cabinent, but I close it before he can grab anything.
He reaches again and I let him open it. He looks at me. He tries to reach in I close it.
He hits me again.
“Come on,” I say. “We need to talk man to man. I am a giant and you are only six years old. You have to face facts here.”
His eyes fix on the microphone for the CMED radio. He reaches for it. I grab him by the ankle and pull him back away from it. He scrambles away and just as he is about to reach for it, I grab him by the ankle again. He glares at me.
I shrug. Just doing my job.
He screams again.
I just smile at him.
He lays back on the stretcher and crosses his arms. He tries to stare me down like the bad man he wants to be.
“If you behave at the hospital, they might let you watch TV…They have great videos there…. Sponge Bob Squarepants.”
I see a small glint of light in his eyes. While continuing to give me the evil stare, he stays calm until we get to the hospital and turn him over. I have hardly started walking back to the ambulance entrance doors when he goes running past me screaming and is pursued by two overweight security guards.
One six-year-old kid. Taking up all these resources. I think toward the future when he is no longer six, when his punches will hurt. I wonder what it will cost to contain him then?