He thought Medics just wasted time “playing doctor”, when we should be gone already. But eventually he began to believe in me enough to let me do my job. He also taught me a lot of the things I should have learned in school, but didn’t. Things like how to talk to people, and get them comfortable with us.
Things like how to operate an emergency vehicle without getting my patient thrown around. He also taught me a lot about how to stay alive on the streets. Once he even saved my life.
We were called on an “Unresponsive Party”. When we arrived nothing to set off alarm bells, no sign of drugs, clean well kept apartment, nicer furniture than I owned, a smart and sincere young women told me her boyfriend had just “Fell Out”, for no apparent reason. He was about 6’4”, with a stocky well-muscled build at about 260 pounds. His arms were simply huge. He had a rapid pulse, normal respirations, and normal pupils, with warm & dry skin.
I got a pretty normal pressure. “OK, what’s up?” I’m thinking. So I let the guy know I am going to rub on his chest and it might be uncomfortable. His arm is still in my lap as I give him a sternal rub & then POW!
His fist came straight up & caught me solid under the chin. It actually lifted me up several inches, and then I heard myself hit the floor. My world was spinning sideways, as I struggled to get my eyes focused and to see him poised above me. He is standing upright holding an old brass floor lamp with one of those weighty marble bases. He had the lamp in two hands, with the marble base at the end. I could see him raise the lamp above his head to finish me off for good and then – Bob hit him from behind like a linebacker.
I got my rubbery legs to work well enough to get up, as Bob was rolling around the floor with the guy in a Full Nelson headlock. I grabbed a roll of 2” athletic tape and began binding his wrists and legs together, all while Bob held his vise-like grip. Once I had used up the whole roll of tape Bob says, “Do you want me to let go yet?” “No Bob”, I said, “why don’t you just stay right like that until the cops get here.” So he did, and never let go until the Police arrived.
The rest of the job went fine, and away he went in that very special Police ambulance with steel walls and floors. Then we find his many psych medications, most of which he had apparently stopped taking. Sometimes EMS is like playing the TV game Jeopardy – they give you the answer first and then you have to figure out the question. The bonus round that day was learning that I had a partner that would risk his life to save mine.
Bob has been dead over 10 years now, but I still think of him now and again. I remember a loving guy that would treat even rude, angry drunks like human beings. He was never late for a shift. He never “stabbed me in the back” with management, and Lord knows I probably deserved it. A good partner is like a good marriage, almost the exception rather than the rule. For it to really work, you both have to be willing to work at it.
At it’s worst; a bad-working relationship with your partner can make your job simply miserable. At it’s best; a good partner can save your life. I never told Bob thank you as much as he deserved. I wish I could tell him now.
Maybe if you are blessed with a great partner, you could say, “Thanks for riding with me today. I always enjoy working with you and really appreciate all that you do for me”. They will not be with you forever, and you will only get so many opportunities to tell them how you feel. They deserve it, and truthfully – you deserve the chance to share your appreciation.