Friday, November 20, 2009

Wake me when it's over.

We get up for the third time after midnight. This one is for a "female hemorrhaging" at a large public park. We all know what this means. Female bleeding means a laceration or maybe a puncture wound. Female hemorrhaging means a gynecological issue or perhaps a rectal bleed.

We get on the engine and head toward the park. The park is supposed to close at dusk, but the large homeless population and the perverts tend not to read the park hours sign. As it is our third wake-up call and it is well after midnight, neither the captain or myself are completely awake as we turn into the park.

I am driving the engine this night, a 80's vintage Pierce Arrow. Many in our agency would argue that that the Pierce engines were the best engines we ever bought. I can't say that for certain, but I will tell you that they were the most fun to drive.

As we turn into the park, we fall in behind a a deputy's cruiser and drive into the bowels of the recreational relic. We follow the deputy across the ravine that divides the park into two sections. After a few more moments, we find our patient, standing in the roadway, illuminated by the spotlights of another cruiser.

The patient is a female in her mid thirties. She is completely naked, blood visibly running down the inside of her thigh, then down her leg. She has no possessions with her, nor shoes on her feet. Her matted hair and her grimy skin tell us that she is not doing a good job taking care of herself.

We dismount the engine and contact our patient. A blanket is obtained from the engine and wrapped around her. We lead her to the tailboard where she sits as we begin our assessment. Our patient gives us her name and her age and tells us that she does not have a home. She cannot tell us where she is or what she is doing standing naked in the street. It is beginning to look like she is she is mentally ill rather than a victim of an assault. We perform the normal BLS stuff including 02 and a secondary assessment.

The ambulance arrives and takes over They load her into the ambulance and we head back to the barn. I follow the ambulance out, which is leaving on the same road that we drove in on. As we approach the ravine, I stop before crossing the small wooden bridge that spans it. I see the large white reflective sign standing next to the bridge,. the one that clearly states "6 Ton Weight Limit".

My captain sees it too. We both suddenly realized that we had  driven our 17 ton engine over that 6 ton rated bridge just a few minutes before. Even more shocking, is that neither one of us remembered doing it. As I see it, we were lucky that old wooden bridge was likely built tougher than it had to be.

We turn around and head the long way out of the park, I don't think we need to tempt fate twice.

Maybe that's why they don't let me drive much any more!.


  1. What a sad tale, Capt. Mental illness has to be the most prevalent reason for homelessness next to being a Vet.
    Yikes for the bridgecapades! Thankfully they made them well back in the day............
    Stay safe!

  2. Brother, this is so funny! There is a study out that says even brief naps help in work production. It also says that the person needs a few min. to gain the bearing. Sounds like you all were still waking up.

    I think tomorrow I'll call for an engine on a call just to get them out of bed or the reclining chairs.

  3. Capt., it may not be as bad as it seems. We had a local bridge on a mutual aid response route which was downgraded to around 5 tons (-ish. Memory is not exact.)

    Anyway, that's a problem for our 20-ton engines. We contacted the DOT engineers, gave them exact axle weights, and they cleared us to cross it at no more than 5 MPH. They were primarily concerned about shock loading. Thankfully we only had to do it once before the bridge was replaced.

    I wouldn't have crossed your bridge again either. No sense tempting fate.

  4. Oooooooooops!

    Heh, lead us on with a sad dramatic story, and then jab us with the unrelated, unexpected comedic twist at the end.

    Well played.

  5. Dealing with extremely dysfunctional mentally ill homeless people can get old in a hurry. Its a revolving door system with us and the S.O. getting called, picking them up, 72 hr. hold, meds, release, stop taking meds, extreme behavior, us and the S.O. getting called and on and on........

    The thing to remember is that these people truly can't help themselves. Sometimes I wonder if some sort of compassionate institutionalism might be in order. Whatever we are doing now is not working for some of these people.

  6. Dear Captain Schmoe,
    I agree with you that a compassionate institutionalization would be best. All that ended in the 1980's.

    The revolving door, and for that matter, the automatic pill-push, seem to be the way of psychiatry these days. I call this a loss.

    Ann T.

  7. Mick- Not any more. This happened back when 8V92s were king. The finally got tired of me tearing up units and promoted me. I destroy lives now, not machines!