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Monday, July 25, 2011

So What Do You Guys Have?

By Steven P. Velasquez
July 17 2011

A paramedic unit is dispatched to an address where a volunteer ambulance is on scene with a person who is allegedly showing signs and symptoms of a stroke. On arrival, they approach a dark, remote driveway that has an ambulance and a police car in it. There are dozens of parked cars along the roadway and lots of ambient music and noise indicating there may be a party going on.

They're greeted by a woman in civilian clothes who is hastily managing the stretcher. The paramedics gather their equipment and as they head up the driveway ask; "What do you guys have?" Breathlessly, as she wrestles the stretcher out of the ambulance, she replies; "42 year-old male, was doing the chicken dance when he suddenly passed out. Could be a stroke." The medics contained their laughter, stared at the ground and continued in thinking maybe she's just a helpful civilian since she's in what looked like a party outfit.

As they approached the house, one of the squad members (easily identified by his 53" leather radio strap draped across his co-ed naked EMT t-shirt ) emerges from the basement. Again they ask; "What do you guys have?" He replies; "42 year-old, possible CVA (fancy name for a stroke), was doing the 'Chicken Dance' when he suddenly became weak and now has weakness on his right side."

The two medics glance at each other passing non-verbal communication questioning; "Have we possibly landed on another friggin' planet or something? What's with these people's fascination that a 'Chicken Dance' was involved?" After some other quick questions, they all agree that the medics will take their equipment to the ambulance and setup there while the EMT's take the gravely ill chicken dancer out of the house.

Now I know some will read this and immediately get their feathers ruffled that this is volunteer bashing, BLS bashing, generalized misanthropy but I have to tell you nothing could be further the truth. These are the kind of unfocused thoughts and jumbled reports we have to weed through to eventually get to the truth on a nightly basis. It would be one thing if it were only one person behaving this way, but as you'll read now, it was systemic.

The patient arrives in the back of the ambulance and is now being evaluated by the paramedics. Anxious family and friends clutter the doorways as we try to isolate the patient from the panicked. A third, fourth and fifth EMT are now in the back of the ambulance that we hadn't spoken to yet. The oldest, and probably most experienced of them, sits in the captain's chair with a firm grip on the most valuable of life-saving tools -- the clip board. She now announces her findings. "The patient was at a party doing 'The Chicken Dance' when..." At this point, nothing else she could have said was of any worth. The fact that I've had three or four people decorate me with that useless piece of information at the top of their findings report demonstrates that their thoughts are unfocused, they are poorly educated and can't possibly help me or more importantly, the patient during his time of need.

Another EMT opens up the side door and pops her head in. She looks up at me and says; "I don't know if they told you what happened, but he was..." Yes, I know you know what was said next. I'm now thinking to myself; "If I hear one more fucking reference to the God-damned 'Chicken Dance,' I'm leaving my keys and truck here and quitting!! What's wrong with you people!!!!!??

Capital One Viking child
As I was contemplating either homicide or hari-kari, the side door opens again and a topless, bearded, burly, barefoot man clad only in cut-0ff jean shorts leaps into the ambulance and lands with a loud slap of his bare feet on the floor! He grunts; "I'm here! What's going on?" When we challenged him; "Are you a family member?" He barked; "Well, no, I'm a friend but I'm going with him!"

I started to wonder if there were camera's on me and I was being punk'd. But, Ashton Kutcher never appeared. So far, the naked burly guy, who happened to look like the cast of the Capital One Vikings on TV, was the only person on this scene who didn't furnish me with the much valued tidbit of our patients' poultry polka that seems to have led up to whatever may have happened that, by the way, in no way seemed to even remotely resemble the signs and symptoms of a stroke!

On the way to the hospital, we called our telemetry physician for a consult about this patient. When he asked: "When did the patient's symptoms begin?" My partner and I replied in stereo; "After 'The Chicken Dance' sir." Silence.

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