Explaining My Strips: What they say, what we hear

I had just taken a bite of my first hot meal of the shift when we got this call.

The MVA was minor at best. There was no damage to either vehicle. There was no broken glass, no airbag deployment and even all headlights and taillights were unbroken. Both of the vehicles were still drivable.

We walk past the two police officers to the one vehicle on scene, the one that rear-ended the other vehicle that has already driven off. We find a driver who is angry, sitting with their arms folded, looking like a kid in “time out”. 

Before I can even speak, they shout, “I don’t know why they called you, I said I’m fine!”

“Well, they were worried about your well-being, and probably saw that you were upset or looked distressed so they called for us.”

“Of course I’m upset. I just rear-ended someone in my wife’s car! And now I’m late to pick her up from work too! She is going to kill me! And then I’ve got these officers telling me I have to wait for y’all to show up.”

“Well, you didn’t have to wait, you have the right to refuse.”

“Oh.”

They speed off with their driver door open, and it shuts a few seconds after the back bumper passes me.

They signed no refusal and left me standing there, wondering what to do next.

I walk back to the ambulance and past the officers as they ask, “They were ok?”

“I appears so.”

As I get into the ambulance, I’m staring at an open chart that I can’t close without a patient’s signature. As the chief shows up in the QRV, I ask what to do about the lack of signature.

The lecture that I received about not getting a patient signature was longer than the call itself, en route time included. The chief had me so scared about “patient abandonment” and all this shit. No matter how much I try to explain that the patient drove off without warning, they aren’t hearing any of it.

I head to our next call thinking, “If that driver calls us a month from now with a complaint of constipation, he’s gonna link it to me letting them drive off from that scene.”

Then, I imagine the next person who drives off from a scene on me forcing me into a car chase. We catch back up to them, and I, with my left arm holding on to the passenger side mirror of the ambulance, have my body outstretched to their vehicle. I take the Toughbook laptop that is in my right hand and I smash the driver’s side window of their car out. They swerve a tiny bit but recover quickly, as the driver screams, “What the hell is wrong with you you crazy asshole?!” 

“I need your signature!!”

“Leave me alone!!”

“I cannot afford to abandon you!!”

That’s when I knew I would have to make the jump onto the roof of their car.

The ensuing action would make the people behind the “Fast and Furious” movies contact me after the story made national news, of course.

And after a chase that caused 2.1 million dollars in property damage and crossed 3 county lines, I finally get that signature.

As I save the report and close the Toughbook, I look over and see the chief, standing behind the open door of his QRV. He gives me a nod of acknowledgment that is full of pride for my job well done, and I nod back.

Thankfully, none of that would ever have to happen.

That’s because fast forward to about 4 months later when a news article about our response times and shortage of resources comes out. 

One night, I’m working in that district again when I heard that same chief get on the radio 3 different times and say, “Unit, you can cancel, patient is refusing EMS at this time.”

I wanted to call him and ask about “patient abandonment” but, of course, I didn’t.

And while none of this gave us any extra time to enjoy hot meals, I was happy that the citizens of our county would stop getting unnecessary bills that take away their hard-earned money.

And I was really happy that I didn’t have to spend money trying to outfit an ambulance with a Nitrous Oxide System.

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