Monday, July 16, 2007


The other day I was sitting in the dayroom and overheard a conversation. There was this medic who just got back from vacation and he was talking to another medic about his return flight being delayed. Now this in of itself wouldn't be a problem. Anyone who has flown more than a few times can sympathise with being delayed, held-up or otherwise postponed at the airport. At this point my interest wasn't peaked.

Needless to say, if I am writing this, eventually my interest was peaked....

I couldn't help but overhear, this particular guy has a very loud "indoor" voice, added by his conviction of how badly he was wronged by the delay. He went on to say that at first everything was fine. The flight was on time and he boarded as usual. The plane took off and everything was hunky-dory. Then he said that about an hour into it he was "rudely" awaken by one of the stewardess asking if he was a doctor or nurse. He said no. Then he asked why? She said that there was someone in first class that was in need of medical attention.

Now at this point, I would have stated that I was a Paramedic and would like to help if I could and then let the staff decide if I was what they and the patient needed/ wanted. Maybe it's just me and maybe I'm just naive, but I would like to think that any card holding EMT, no matter what level, would have stepped up and offered their help. That's just what we do.

But not this guy. He was napping for God's sake! Asshole, I say. He just said no and went back to dreaming whatever dipshits like him dream about. I personally hoped it was that one where he was falling and wakes up screaming and pissing himself.

Anyway, he goes on to say that captain of the plane decided to make an emergency landing to get this person some help. Apparently there was no other person on board with medical training or like him, there was no one willing to step up to the plate and at least try to help. So he was delayed for about 7 hours while the plane waited on the tarmac.

Eventually he found out what had happened. An elderly woman was having a heart attack. Full, classic symptoms: crushing chest pain, shortness of breath, pale, cool, sweaty, nausea and feeling like she was going to die. The kicker was one of the stewardess noticed it and asked her. The patient denied it at first, said she didn't want to bother anyone. That didn't last long because she eventually passed out!

Now this was the point I just had to say something. This is sort-of out of character for me. You see, I am new at this Medic stuff. The ink on my card isn't even dry yet and this guy has been around for about 5 years or so. Not an old-timer by any means, but he's been around longer than I have. I usually try to follow the old rule of "seen and not heard." Someone once told me that God gave you 2 ears and 1 mouth, which do you think you should use more? Plus he was one of the cocky types. You know the ones, the guy who thinks he's King Shit of Turd Mountain, a "Para-God".

But this wasn't the time for that. I put down the JEMS magazine that I was pretending to read and turned to face him. He noticed my piercing glare and asked "What?"

"What?" I said. "How can you wear that patch on your arm and call yourself a Medic?"

"What the hell are you talking about?"

I then proceeded to tell him my thoughts on his actions in a decidedly heated fashion. We ended up nose to nose. My supervisor picked that very moment to walk in. He got between us and split us up and asked what in the hell was going on? I just walked out. He came after me in a few minutes and I told him what the other guy had said and the fact that it pissed me off and I couldn't hold my tongue any longer. I was sorry that I caused a scene, but I wasn't going to apologize to that asshole. He leaned back on his haunches and squinted at me, then grunted and walked back inside.

I got in my rig and waited on my partner. He eventually came and we drove off. He was laughing. I asked him why. He said that our supervisor had come back in and the other medic was still ranting and raving about me and the fact that I had the nerve to open my mouth in his presence and all that bullshit. Well the supervisor told the asshole in question that he should maybe close his mouth and listen to the "kid" then walked out leaving that particular fuckstick with his jaw hanging somewhere down around his knees. It's also both funny and irritating that I am still referred to as the "kid", even though I am almost 5 years the elder of the asshole. But that's another post altogether.

On a side note, I have heard that airplanes carry full ALS gear on board in the event that someone has a need for it. But there is no one that can use it and that is why they ask for someone with medical training. I am not sure about this, but if anyone who is reading this knows, please leave a comment and let me know.


Loving Annie said...

Good for you for speaking up. You very clearly did the right thing.

And it sounds like your partner is mellowing a bit, yes ?

c said...

As a young person with a heart condition and if i'm flying I would want you to speak up! and even though i'm certified i would hope someone with more experience than me would help. the AED'S are simply enough if you just follow the commands.

Anonymous said...

Flight Attendants are only trained in basic first aid, CPR and use of the AED, that's it.

Mr. Fixit said...

You were right!

In the absence of good judgment, caring, and compassion, we still have the "duty to act". He should have tried to help. As you said, how else could he call himself a paramedic.

I think you will (have) find that age, and experience is not a true indication of a person's ability or quality. A person can be older and stupid, or younger and highly competent, experienced and a slug, or green and a damn fine medic. You've met one type, be the other.

Mr Fixit

Epijunky said...

Clearly someone working at your service needs to consider a career change.

I would have reacted the same way you did. And I'm not even remotely ashamed to admit it.

Good advice from Mr. Fixit as well. I'd say most of us (unfortunately) have met this type.

Good for you.

misstressM said...

Well thats just nice to know. Glad I wasnt in your shoes because he would have been suffering from a serious nose bleed and inability to walk

Blue Ridge Medic said...

Loving Annie- Yes, Partner is talking a bit more, but he still stands back and lets me do all the work.

ER Tech Dude- Thanks for the info.

Mr. Fixit and Epijunky- I agree with both of you completly.

Misstressm- Funny thing is that when I was this guys age, I would have done just that. Now that I am a little older, I've learned that it's just not worth it, plus no one ever wins a fight.

Thanks to all my commentors and readers out there!


Detail Medic said...

Good for you! I agree wholeheartedly with you! What a jackass. Glad it wasn't HIS mom.

pixie.dust said...

What a jerk. I'm glad you said something!

Loving Annie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Loving Annie said...

Good Saturday morning to you, Blue Ridge !

Scott said...

Loved the story! I would have gotten in his face, too! Sorry that you have to work with John Q. Doucheington, EMT-P.

Doesn't the so called Good Samaratin Law work both ways? I mean, if you DO have medical training, aren't you supposed to help?

Marc said...

Hi Blue Ridge,

If it ever happens to you, you might be in for some major Freq. Flier points from the Airline.

My wife, an oncologist, helped an elderly man with angina on a flight to London. As a way of saying thanks, the Airline gave her enough points for one ticket anywhere in North-America. All she did was asses him, give him O2 and maybe a Nitro or aspirin. (Can't remember exactly) and he was OK enough to go see a Doc on his own steam after landing. No EKG monitor on board, though, just the AECD.

BCFD36 said...

I have twice responded to medical emergencies whilst on airplanes. Once was on a United flight 2 hours out over the Atlantic out of Heathrow for a stewardess with anaphalactic shock. The second was for a heart condition on a Turkish Air flight out of Istanbul. The guy's prescription bottle was written in Cyrillic. Made things interesting.

Both were 10+ years ago and the first aid kits were pathetic. I carry better in my pickup.

United gave me a nice bottle of champane. TA gave me a nice thank you.

Chris in SE TX said...

It is my belief that the only way assholes (or stupid people) will take a hint is if people don't ignore them but confront them. If nothing else, they will start being miserable because of all the confrontations and ass chewings. You did the right thing. I may be wrong, but I think in Texas, a person with medical training is required to help.

Law aside, this guy was a pathetic excuse for a human being and should not be a medic.

On a bright side, in his case Karma didn't wait too long - 7 hour delay!!!! Had the woman died, I would hope he would be found civilly if not criminally negligent.... of course I'm not a lawyer...... (I'm not a breast exam technician either, but willing to play one if someone is willing to volunteer!)

Anonymous said...

I can't answer you ?, but I will tell you this.

We are a new squad, volunteer, 4- First Responders and 1 EMT.

We are non-transport.

We get our butts handed to us at every single scene. Even if we have been caring for our patient for 30 minutes while we wait for an ambulance..

The next time a TRANSPORT EMT, shoves me off a patient, the term..
King Shit of Turd Mountain..will be used... Thanks