Taking On Fire

All names and locations have been changed.

I was still an EMT and was working a 48 at a hospital-based service in the middle of nowhere. It was one of these places where you can’t even get a cell phone signal, where football on Friday night shuts the entire town down, and where God has to provide a pipeline for the sunshine. Most shifts were fairly uneventful at this place. I spent more time helping in the ER than I did running calls on most shifts. We didn’t see a whole lot of action but when the poo hit the fan, it hit hard.

My partner and I had just finished lunch and were flipping through the channels on the TV. The other crew had just left town on a transfer from our hospital to another facility so we were the only truck available in the county. The phone rang and I got up to answer. “Mercy EMS, where is your emergency?”

“This is Central, we need every truck you have to respond to the Bates Motel!”

I start writing down information. “Ok, we are the only truck in the county right now. What’s going on there?”

“Just go! Now!” I put my pen down. “Ma’am, tell me what’s going on.” “Just go!” The dispatcher hangs up.

I tell my partner what’s going on. “Do you want to go in blind?” He said, “Well, we might as well.” Before we could even get out the door, Central was calling us back and asked what was taking so long. “Listen, there is only one ambulance in the county, my partner and I are it. We are leaving right now if you will stop calling so we can leave!” She hangs up again and we go en route.

The Bates Motel was not far from our facility. It also was not far off from the depiction of the real Bates Motel. Nasty, shady looking, the works. We pull in and quickly realize that we are in the middle of a bad situation. And then we realize how bad it really is. Cops everywhere, guns are drawn, they are pointed toward a room, and three patients that we can see.

With no advanced warning, in spite of the dispatcher knowing was going on, we were right in the middle of a hot scene.We look at each other and partner says, “Scoop and run!”

We looked at each other and my partner says, “Scoop and run!”

A very quick field triage was as follows: One green, one yellow, one red, zero black.

We got them all into the truck and I haul ass out of there. “Medic 51 to Mercy ER.” The nurse answers, “Go ahead 51.” I key the mic back up, “We are coming in hot with three gunshot victims, we had to get out of there quickly due to shooter being on the scene, ETA 2 minutes.”

After we got back and I was able, I called Central back about that call. “Hey, just so you know, my partner and I did not appreciate being sent into a war zone without any advanced warning. You knew what was going on, you should have told us!” She cops an attitude, “It’s your job to help people and to go into those scenes!” Incensed, I retorted “No, it’s not! We don’t have guns, we don’t have vests! We are supposed to wait for the cops to clear the scenes and you know that! If you ever pull that kind of junk again, you better hope I don’t get hurt. That will be the worst day of your life!” She shoots back, “Well, a kid was shot!’ “And what good would we have been to her had we been shot?!”

The idiot had no response.

“Exactly. Next time, use your brain.”

The next day I left and received a phone call from my supervisor. “Don’t come in your next shift. You’re suspended for the way you talked to that dispatcher. And if the administrator wants to fire you, I will not have your back. You’re on your own.”

I sure enjoyed that unexpected week off. I slept soundly.


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