Don’t Be a Hero

It’s the craziest coincidence. For some reason I’ve been thinking lately about my experiences during the Plaza Flood in Kansas City. I Googled it, and found out to my surprise that it happened exactly 30 years ago.


September 12th, 1977 it rained like the sky was a giant fire hose. I was on duty downtown, with a nice little card game getting started. We really liked bad weather since it tends to keep people inside out of harms way. Back then we ran all the emergencies, transfers, and even picked up the deceased for the local funeral homes. Anything that could get us a respite was welcome. It didn’t seem fair when the tones dropped. We backed out the downstairs garage in our trusty Cadillac to discover ourselves in a small river. My partner driving floored it, and a wave came over the hood. Astonishingly, we came up out of the water with the engine still running. A bit rattled we headed out to the call. 


As we went in toting our now antique gear, water was everywhere. We came in to see an enormous lady, soaking wet and in full arrest. We got down to business, and I got the tube, line, and hooked her up to find fine V-fib. I got ready and called clear to shock and my partner Bob asked if I could wait a sec. Then he went out on the porch.


That gave me my first clue I was in trouble. Bob had real good horse sense. I most always followed his lead, but I was in my code groove. So I carefully wiped my feet on my pants legs, got up on tiptoes and hit the button on the Lifepak 4. A blue flame went across her massive chest. I almost wet my pants. Another round of drugs, and I try to decide about shocking again. Then we learn she was found out on the porch this way at least 15-20 minutes ago, and pulled inside. Bob peeks his head in the door and asks, “Uh, you aren’t going to push that red button anymore are you”? "No", I respond sheepishly, realizing I had just gotten real stupid and lucked out. He cautiously entered and then we wrapped up to go. 


Twenty-five people died in the flood, some trying to get their cars out of underground parking garages. I wasn’t the only person that had a bad case of stupid that night. The moral of the story is don’t try too too hard to be a hero, it’s dangerous and rarely makes a difference in the outcome.


About Dan White

I'm a retired Paramedic and EMS Instructor with 35 years EMS and emergency medical product experience. I love canoes, cars and EMS. I have written a lot about EMS Technology on the Paramedic Blog, the Insights on Innovation column for, on and I can be reached directly at 573-240-0002.
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One Response to Don’t Be a Hero

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