Saturday, June 2, 2007

Rookie Rodeo


I would agree with AD that, at times, suicide is a mercy. But most of the time the attempted suicides are charitably called "cries for help", and more accurately "stupid is as stupid does".

I have found that most people that really want to die do not call their friends to let them know. They do not "OD" on some over the counter pain killer that will kill nothing more than their liver and leave them suffering for a long time. When they want to die, they are just found dead.

The corollary to that, is that those people who call their friends, or tell their family, or scratch their wrists with a dull plastic knife do not in fact want to die. They want people to pay attention to them for whatever reason. Sometimes they draw more attention than they originally hoped for.

Take for instance "Tommy".

Tommy was upset. The horrors of life were more than he could take. Tommy was a 'young man' of about 23. He was tired of putting up with whatever he had to put up with and wanted to kill himself.

Tommy thought it would be prudent to stop by and tell the police what he was planning. So he did. On his way home with his over-the-counter medicine, he stopped at the police station. Tommy walked right up to the window and told the officer on duty his tell of woe, and his plan to make it all better.

Of course, the officer called a few of his closest and bestest buddies, and for good measure called the fire station to invite us to the send off.

When we arrive with the ambulance and engine, Tommy is in the open to the public unlocked unsecured sitting area of the police station, right beside the door. He is being questioned by a rookie officer. The rookies Field Training Officer is watching. As it happens, our paramedics are a rookie and his FTO. Naturally, the rookies are the ones doing all the talking. The paramedic rookie is going through his "We're here to help you" speech, and the police rookie is going through his "Come on, let these guys help you." speech. By now, the other 4 of us firemen, and the other 3 of the police are watching the rookies, and generally talking amongst ourselves.

For some reason Tommy doesn't want our help. He is getting agitated. He begins to curse us, them, us some more, the world. The rookies are talking softly, and this only makes him worse. Everybody else is starting to decide that this is about to get interesting. One of the fireman, a paramedic of several years, tells Tommy in no uncertain terms to get his ass on the stretcher. The police agree that this is what he needs to do, now. Our rookies are still trying to be his friends.

Silly rookies.

Tommy says he will go. He stands up, the rookie officer frisks him. The rookie paramedic tells him to sit on the cot. Tommy just stands there. Tommy has a look in his eye that everyone but the rookies recognize. Tommy looks at the door, then at the police, back at the door, then at the firemen. Tommy begins to dig into his back pants pocket. Even though he has been frisked, several of us take this as a "bad sign". He looks at the door, digs in his pocket, and gets stiff. He begins to pull out a "fro pick" that is metal spikes about 6 inches long.

As Tommy begins to pull his hand out of his pocket the 2 rookies back up. At the same time, the other 7 of us step forward. Tommy pulls out the pick. Someone grabs his hand, others grab whatever they can. The rodeo is on. It takes a bit more than 8 seconds, but we get Tommy on the cot, strapped (softly and safely) down, and on the way to the ambulance. Myself and the acting Lt. look at our rookie paramedic and ask where he was when the fun started.

As we move outside, I see the police FTO "gently inquiring" if maybe, perhaps, if he felt like it, could the rookie cop maybe actually find stuff that could be used as a weapon next time he frisked someone.

It might not have helped that my Lt. turned and offered to frisk patients next time.

Mr Fixit


Ambulance Driver said...

I'm usually pretty good at talking a psych patient into cooperating, and I usually do better with fewer cops present.

Not that I have a problem with cops - it's just that some of them project the authoritarian vibe and can't turn it off.

Eventually though, I give them the choice - restrained or unrestrained.

Good post. That reminds me of a story of my own.

Mama Mia said...

Poor rookies - It sucks to be new and unsure. Bet they learned a great lesson from this patient - better now than later on their own.