Saturday, July 9, 2011

Civic duties

We were responding to a call the other night. With our nifty rig computers, we get more info from Dispatch than what they say over the air. Some of the info is helpful, some is irrelevant. Often, it clarifies the type of call it will be. Thus, a call for a possible heart attack sounds quite serious. When the follow-up comments state, 'Caller says he hurt his back last week and his muscles hurt and he think his heart might be failing,' that puts us in a better ballpark of what to expect. (Not much.) Likewise, when we get a difficulty breathing call and the follow-up states, 'Caller reports not having heard from his uncle for several days. At the house now. Uncle is in the bed, not moving. Caller thinks he might be dead.' That is more than just difficulty with breathing. That is the complete absence of breathing...

We were called to a seizure. The comments stated, 'Caller states her father was on ground, not responding. They think he's breathing.' Then the Dispatcher typed, ''Caller states her father just fell out.' We're trying to determine WHAT he fell out of.'
I nearly got on the radio to explain that it is an intransitive verb. To fall out is, locally/colloquially, to faint, lose consciousness, get light-headed, take a knee. Sometimes preceded by 'done.' As in, 'We were just hanging and she done fell out.'
I imagined the Dispatcher trying to find out what the dad had fallen out of, and, generally, those who employ this turn of phrase are more than apt to respond, 'Shit, he just fell out. He's right here.'

We arrived. There were two or three slatternly post-teen mothers stalking around smoking. A few kids roaming about with dirty faces, well dirty everything. And on the floor of the foyer was the father, who had, indeed, fallen out. There was a wet rag on him, because when someone faints/falls out, it's proper to toss water on them, or drape a wet rag on them. He was breathing and conscious. He'd drunkenly fallen off the front porch earlier (several hours earlier) and now his hip hurt. A lot. So he'd crumpled to floor in pain.
Which led to 911 call and report of their father falling out.
Which led to us arriving, post-haste.

The man was complaining about his hip, writhing in pain, then trying to scootch back toward the living room. His daughters were yelling at him, 'Dad, STOP. Stop fucking moving!' then continuing to wander and smoke and curse. We tried to get him to stay still so we could evaluate him then to await his medical chariot, which would bring him to hospital to evaluate/x-ray/'treat' a bruised hip. It hurts like hell but there's really not much to do for it.
After much carrying on, much family yelling, futile attempts at reasoning w/ yelling daughters and squirming father, the medics arrived (about ten minutes; I slowed them to code-two, meaning no lights/sirens/red-light-running, not for this). The daughters were on the phone/s, complaining that their dad had drunkenly fallen off the porch but the ambulance was taking FIVE HOURS to arrive. In their minds, it really was taking hours.
I tried to explain that he was in no grave danger--even, ahem, that he wasn't all that hurt--but their familial pride was swollen and they started motherfuckering us. The dad grimmaced, groaned, yelped, half crumbled, overcame mountains of suffering, but was able to lean on me and limp to ambulance (rather than get carried on the canvas litter. It was like watching vintage James Brown on stage. He seemed to be near death's door, until he wanted his smokes, whereupon he turned on heel and made decent progress (for a one-legged near-dead man) back toward the parlor.

Ah, another soul snatched from the jaws of death.

A. These are the calls we have.
B. I really did have to reign in my desire to give the Dispatcher a grammar/syntax clarification.
C. I'm fucked up because I really do have grammarian arguments with myself on calls.
C2. Given what we deal with, my fuck-uppedness is benign...

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