A Cigarette

The mental health team meets us outside. “We should wait for the police,” the clinician says. “She’s a big woman. When we went back up there she had a knife near her that wasn’t there the first time we were up with her. She’s very anxious today. When she’s off her meds, she can be […]


I’m in the back, helping my preceptee with an IV. I repositon the catheter to get a blood flow, and then pull out the needle, occluding the vein with my left hand while I reach for the saline lock. All of a sudden we are decelerating and I start sliding to my right, and I […]


The snow is coming down in near white out conditions. At one point we lose the road the snow bank kicking up snow that completely obliterates our view through the windshield. We arrive at a townhouse apartment complex where we have been called for an unresponsive diabetic. Carrying our blue house bag, heart monitor, and […]

You Never Know

We’re called for chest pain at the court house. We question whether it is a case of “Jailitis.” We find the patient sitting in the lobby on a bench surrounded by marshals and firefighters. It is a young man – twenty-five. My first reaction is he is a prisoner, but then I realize he is […]

Suffering in the World

We are sent to a detox center for a diabetic. We find a sixty-year old Puerto Rican with a blood sugar over 600, although he has no complaint. He has come to the center to kick his heroin habit. But first now he will have to go to the ER to get his sugar under […]

Grand Central Station

I walk through the ER. There are beds in the hallway. I step aside as a tech pushes a portable X-Ray machine past. I call a greeting to a nurse who steps out of a room carrying an IV tray. In another room a doctor intubates an extremely large patient. The intercom pages a cleaning […]

ECG Changes

It’s pouring rain and we get called for anxiety. 40 year old female sits in her kitchen holding her chest saying it feels heavy. We ask if she has been under stress and she says, “You don’t want to know.” But she has never felt a pressure like this before and she says it feels […]

Carolina Tall Tale

I’m working on the computer when we get the call. I am in fact in the middle of downloading a program. Bad timing. There is no way I can wait for the download to finish. I decide to just minimize the window amd leave it at that. Only when we are on the way to […]

Out! — I Mean Safe! — Legacy of an Ear

A number of years ago, one of our ambulances was involved in an MVA. The EMT in the back went flying forward and banged his head against the cabinets and sliced his ear against a sharp edge. When he regained conciousness, his ear was just hanging there. Shortly after, he recieved (I believe) a prosthetic […]

Good as New

An old woman in a group home slips and hits her knee. She mutters “I broke my leg, I broke my leg” so her aides call us. We find her sitting on the floor. I ask her how she is. She mutters, “broke my leg, broke my leg.” But she didn’t break her leg. There […]

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