Burning Questions 5/5

It’s after 0300 and we’re driving in the city on the way to our post. The streets are completely deserted except for the strong police presence. All of the rioters have either been arrested or have gone home. The only evidence of the chaos is all of the broken windows, burned out dumpsters, and torn down security gates. Police SUVs roam the streets; every seat occupied, all eyes on constant scan of the abandoned urban landscape.

I’m on a three man unit; another paramedic and an EMT. We’ve all been up 20 hours so we trade off sleeping between calls on the gurney in the back. We’ll be up for another 10 hours before getting cleared to go home. Our regular posts have been abandoned; it’s too dangerous to spread us out so thin in the city without protection, so we post at the hospitals in secured parking lots.

Today it’s the classic big city EMS calls; abdominal pain for the pancreatitis patient who spent the last night drinking, the ALOC (altered level of consciousness) for the woman who just wants a sandwich and a place to sleep. A dialysis patient who seems to have had a stroke at sometime during the night; we call it a cold stroke, unknown time of onset.

Around noon we get the call for the MVA (motor vehicle accident) with a few patients that just want to get checked out at the ED for lawsuit purposes. Darren is on the engine that responds to the call as well as our over-staffed ambulance. The other medic on the ambulance is in rotation to take this call so I’m kind of a bystander; helping out with bags and vitals and such. We end up transporting two patients from the accident, really nothing wrong with them but they feel they need a doctor to tell them that they are okay.

While the other medic and EMT on my rig are dealing with the patients I get a moment to talk to Darren. We exchange greetings and thanks that we are alright after the chaos of the last 24 hours. I remind him that my wife and I will be there for the neighborhood barbecue and that I signed up to work the grill and bring the hamburgers. We’ll catch up later when we have more time.

As I’m driving to the ED, two patients in back with my two partners, I’m thinking of the police officers that will be laid off in the next few days. We really could not have done this without them. We got lucky this time; the self-proclaimed “anarchists” from out of town who intended to instigate a full blown riot failed. They just didn’t have enough time to get to the city to start trouble before PD shut the others down. PD, FD, and EMS functioned in lockstep formation to ensure the safety of the community and prevent widespread escalation of civil unrest.

It’s mid-afternoon and I’m tired, my two partners are tired as well. We’ve all had a 30 hour day. We clear the hospital and get some food. Our snacks, stashed in jump bags, have been depleted for hours. The city is back to its normal vibe with the regular population doing the normal everyday tasks.

We sit at our post and wonder what will happen when the judge brings down the final sentencing. Will we get activated again or will the city continue as it always has? Either way, we are here, doing the job that we signed up to do. Bring on the craziness, bring on the mundane, that’s what we do day in and day out…

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~ by KC on July 21, 2010.

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