By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
This woman complains of the same back pain, and has for years. Even though she shows no discomfort, talks normally and can walk but won’t, she always rates her pain at a 10 on the severity scale. We have to carry her down the stairs and hoist her onto the gurney, remember to bring her bags, and I will admit that while I am busy lifting her, I have a childish jealousy of the pies the firefighters will eat later. At the hospital she rattles off her medical-insurance numbers with ease and opens her mouth for the thermometer before I ever mention needing her temp.
You are wasting our time, I always think. Somewhere someone is having a heart attack or a stroke, ingesting poison, having a baby, bleeding out from a stabbing, or experiencing something somewhere that falls under the category of “emergency,” and here I am, hauling around a body that can move think breathe beat live all on its own.
One of my favorite things about being an EMT is (or used to be) showing up at a home or a restaurant or a car wreck or a street corner and being able to say the following words: “We are here to help.”
It’s glorious to say that and really mean it. But dealing with B.S. calls like the seeker’s is actually more exhausting and numbing than the adrenaline up-and-down swing of working real emergencies, and it’s hard to say those words and mean them when someone is lying to you.
“I’m here to help,” I call out to my apartment as I finally shuffle forward from the doorway, shrug my shoulders and relax my hands. Bam. Everything hits the ground at once. I slowly head upstairs and tip myself over into bed; I’m asleep before my head hits the pillow. My dreams are a muted gray.
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