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Saturday, March 6, 2010

Just Take a Shower

Apparently, this isn't just advice given to horny teenagers who have watched too many episodes in a row of "Dollhouse" on Hulu. Now, paramedics are giving the advice, to mothers of sick children, and people are dying.

On February 10th, paramedics responded to a home in Washington, D.C. The 5 a.m. call came in as a report of a child having difficulty breathing. The paramedic advised the child's mother to "run a hot shower" and have the child stand in it, to "clear out her lungs." Then, the ambulance left.

Eight hours later, another call went out from the same house. Difficulty breathing. Medics showed up again, and this time they transported the child, who died.

The female paramedic, who responded to the first call and gave her fatal advice to the family never filled out any paperwork concerning the first response, and she did not transport the child. Not only that, she did not have the adults present even fill out and sign a Refusal of Transport form, which is standard operating procedure in all emergency responses. Don't want to go to the hospital? If you're of sound mind and body, that's fine, but the law states that you have to be clearly informed of the risks of not seeking hospital care, and you must obtain a signature on that form, which will absolve you of responsibility when the patient up and dies ten minutes later.

Maybe it's because I'm gearing up for a return to the streets as an EMT, maybe it's because I'm working towards becoming a father, but I have nothing in my heart but disdain, disgust, and outright hatred for the behavior of this supposedly veteran paramedic who, to my unpleasant understanding also serves as a preceptor-- an instructor and mentor for newly-minted paramedics. Not only should she be stripped of her credentials-- she should be stabbed repeatedly with the badge pin. Here's a newsflash:

Everybody. Goes. To. The. Hospital.

Always. Transport.


It's not just a suggestion-- it's policy. When someone calls 911, and you show up, they go. If they don't want to go, and they're not whackier than an opium-laced Ritz cracker, they must sign the form-- otherwise, it's transport time. This EMS disaster happened for one reason and one reason only: laziness. This bitch didn't feel like schlepping this kid to the hospital. She was cocky and arrogant and, above all else, goddamn lazy. She just didn't feel like transporting, which, by the way, is just about the sum total of her fucking job that she shouldn't even be allowed to have anymore.

It's your job, sister. Don't like it? There's probably a UPS truck somewhere out there with your name on it. And you'll never have to worry about the boxes dying on you.

I understand apathy. I understand sometimes not giving a shit. I understand being overworked and being underpaid and incompetent supervisors riding your ass about bullshit-- poorly maintained equipment and trucks are all scratched and dented up and smell like old mustard. I understand stupid partners, and irrational dispatchers, and working outside in the goddamn wind and the rain and the blazing heat-- lifting Big Ass Bertha up three goddamn flights of stairs, or down. I know. It's a pain. But, if you wake up one morning and find that you just don't care enough to do even the bare minimum of your job-- throw the kid in the back of the truck and put two liters of oxygen on her and drive her to a fucking hospital that's probably less than ten minutes away, and then fill out some paperwork after you hand her over to the nurses-- well, then you're just nothing but a stinky old piece of shit.

EMS is a little too important to be left to the dregs of society, the people who can look into the eyes of the parents of a two-year-old little girl and tell them to run a hot shower because you'd rather go out and get coffee or talk on the cellphone inside your truck. It's a little too important. And maybe that's the savior in me talking-- maybe that's part of the reason I'm going back. Because I may not take the most accurate blood pressures in the world, and I'm not totally up-to-date on all my medical abbreviations, but I'm pretty sure that my ethics and my logic are still largely intact.

Everybody goes to the hospital.



  1. That absolutely disgusts me. It's only worse that this happened to a child. I'm glad you're going back.

  2. I remember right after my uncle died, my dad was having a really hard time coping and had a breakdown, and wasn't able to breathe. Called the ambulance, and they were (to a fault) annoyingly persistent about getting his ass to the hospital. It took every ounce of convincing to tell them otherwise, and then they thought they were out of forms.

    I hope that woman learns from her mistake, and doesn't get sued too badly in the process. (translation: fire that bitch and sue her for everything she's worth)


    You read about this?

  4. I once had a old lady neighbor that had the paramedics at her house, I kid you not, every other night. It was for a variety of things, my favorite being the time she thought she got Jello in her lungs. We got to know the paramedics pretty well and we'd chat it up with her. She must have had some really top rank insurance because she never complained about a bill. Ever.

  5. A similar incident took place in the UK recently. Two paramedics decided that a guy who had had a heart attack was dead just from looking at him. Apparently his face looked 'a bit blue'. Really. Are we about to employ people with the identification abilities of a five year old? They were jailed. There is a lesson there.

  6. I hate people like that and that woman, excuse me, piece of shit, should be charged with homicide, or maybe that's just my opinion, but she, essentially, killed that child. That makes me sick and angry, but mostly just angry that people can do that.

    But, on a lighter note, I can't believe you opened by attacking people who watch Dollhouse. I shower! Every night! And I'm not a teenager. Mr. Apron, I think there might be a war here. Or a battle.

    But only after we kill off all of these dumb evil lazy people in the world who kill babies by telling them to take showers. I'm so pissed off at this.

  7. Sadly enough, I do believe that UPS has higher standards and would not employ such an individual.

  8. "Working towards becoming a father"?

    How very exciting!


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