A Day on Ambulance 31


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  1. #1

    A Day on Ambulance 31

    Hospital transport is one of the many dull tasks of an EMT. It’s not the high tension rescue work we live for, but still a vital component to the healthcare system. The routine is typically hospital to hospital or nursing home to hospital and back.

    For me, transport was usually an opportunity to read, do homework or just waste 4-5 hours on a shift. If I was lucky, I’d get a partner who was funny or have a day full of women who loved a man in uniform.

    Instead, we were tasked with picking up a client for kidney dialysis- he was an older gentleman who had a history of COPD and other ailments, which required transport via ambulance and an EMT...’just in case.’

    Ezra was about what you might expect in an elderly man. Frail, confined to a wheelchair, loose skin and 110% attitude.

    He’d call us ambulance drivers, cabbies with bandaids and my favorite, “shitheads.” It was always good natured, he would regularly insist we take two dollars each and “treat yourself to a nice lunch” as he went about his appointment.

    On this particular day, we were told his usual facility was down, that we’d have to take Ezra to a place further across the city. He was pissed and I smiled, “guess you’re stuck with us all day, buddy,” I laughed. And in a thick Lithuanian accent, he replied “The least you can do is get an old man a glass of wine, you bastard.” I told him he’d have to settle for Gatorade.

    So on we went, stuck in traffic on 93, I radioed dispatch to let them know we were running behind, which prompted more complaints from Ezra about the traffic and the appointment. I made small talk about the Red Sox and the weather when he noticed my Gonzo tattoo and began to ask where I had it done, what it meant etc. I promised the next time I saw him I’d give him a copy of Hunter S Thompson’s ‘Hells Angels,’ as I was obsessed with his books at the time.

    “I have a tattoo of my own, you know,” he said, pulling up the sleeve of his arm. What I saw changed the very air in the back of the rig from cool and light, to an instant feeling of weight on my chest.

    “Is that what I think it is?” I asked as my shocked eyes widely scanned the faded blue numerals.

    “Seventh Fort in Kaunus,” he replied, running long fingers over the crude serial number. “The Nazis didn’t tattoo all the kids, but I was just big enough that I got one.” He winced as he touched it and went on about how much it hurt, noting the jagged parts of the numbers where he at 12 years old, had flinched from the pain.

    The ride felt as if it took hours when in reality it was only about 45 minutes. I learned a lot that trip about starvation, terror, being treated as if one was less than human ....and death.

    Ezra lost both his parents to execution and younger sister to malnourishment: only he and his older brother survived. Still more of his relatives died at different camps, along with entire families...entire generations of his fellow countrymen.

    It takes a lot to shut me up, especially in my early 20s, but there I was, jaw to the floor, unblinking and completely stunned at this story. He spoke so matter of factly, it was as if I was engaging someone’s personal memoirs, one brutal page at a time.

    I felt myself choke instinctively at the tears behind my eyes when he said, “don’t you dare feel bad for me, he said....I have lived a full life, a wonderful life because every day you see, is a gift.”

    We finally made it to the facility, he gave us our customary two dollars and insisted we park out back for the cigarette he wasn’t supposed to have before his appointment. I wheeled him in and thanked him for sharing his story.

    My radio cracked to life as I checked him in -alerting my unit to a motor vehicle accident down the street. “Ah, time to play Captain Hero?” I nodded and told him another team would take him home.

    “Remember, you owe me that book, you little punk.” I smiled and said I’d drop it off at the nursing home the next day on my rounds.

    The next call was absolutely insane. A rollover crash with four passengers, a Jaws of Life extrication and my first time using an IV in the field. Everyone made it out in as close to one piece as possible and because the company would sooner give me a Cadillac than pay overtime, I was given the next day off, paid.

    I woke up around 1pm that day, exhausted, but remembering Ezra, grabbed the book. On my way, I bought a pack of Parliaments and a decaf regular from Dunkin’ Donuts.

    Making my way into the home, I passed by one of my coworkers. “Great work on that accident yesterday...aren’t you off today?” I explained my transport from yesterday and that I’d promised him the book.

    The blood looked as if it had drained from her face.....”Ezra?” I nodded yes: her expression told me more than words ever could.

    Ezra passed in the middle of the night, peacefully in his sleep. He was pre deceased by his wife, Judith and they lost their only son, David in Vietnam.

    Don’t you dare feel bad for him.
    Last edited by BostonsOwn; December 1st, 2020 at 11:06 PM.

  2. #2
    Member dither's Avatar
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    Good read BostonsOwn.

    Life eh?
    If i post a comment on a "WIP", LOOK! I'm a reader that's all, and i can only tell how i feel, as a READER, giving/offering feedback. Hoping to learn and grow here. So please, tell me where i'm going wrong.

    Me? I'm just a fly on the wall.

    Look! I'm trying, okay?

    One can but dream, if only i had dared.

    "The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong" Mahatma Gandhi.
    Alas, i am weak.

    I must find a way to Eastbourne and i so wish that i could dance.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by dither View Post
    Good read BostonsOwn.

    Life eh?
    The things we see.

  4. #4
    Member dither's Avatar
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    Yeah, and the things we wish we hadn't.

    But some stories MUST be told and you haven't made a bad job of that one I think.
    If i post a comment on a "WIP", LOOK! I'm a reader that's all, and i can only tell how i feel, as a READER, giving/offering feedback. Hoping to learn and grow here. So please, tell me where i'm going wrong.

    Me? I'm just a fly on the wall.

    Look! I'm trying, okay?

    One can but dream, if only i had dared.

    "The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong" Mahatma Gandhi.
    Alas, i am weak.

    I must find a way to Eastbourne and i so wish that i could dance.

  5. #5
    Now there's a story. A good bit of writing, my only comment would be on the use of abbreviations, I had to look up EMT, I guess we would probably call you a 'paramedic', COPD I knew from recent reading about coronavirus, but not before. The general rule of thumb is give the full version in brackets the first time you use something like that and the abbreviation only from then on. It is more likely to be a problem when you are talking about something you use everyday to us laymen who may be unfamiliar.
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  6. #6
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    A great write. You should polish and get if off to a mag. It's better than the Lobster story in December issue of The Sun (USA) in my opinion. And your take on ambulance drivers resonates. My former colleague was an ambulance driver in his previous - all disparaging of 'snotty doctors' and 'cab service' and kept a spare broken bulb in the van...dark arts...although he was a pig, proper 'bad cop.'

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Matchu View Post
    A great write. You should polish and get if off to a mag. It's better than the Lobster story in December issue of The Sun (USA) in my opinion. And your take on ambulance drivers resonates. My former colleague was an ambulance driver in his previous - all disparaging of 'snotty doctors' and 'cab service' and kept a spare broken bulb in the van...dark arts...although he was a pig, proper 'bad cop.'
    Ha ha I only worked the rig 5 years and man, I have a lot of stories on snotty doctors.


    One being a young doctor who screamed at my crew and I for smoking outside a hospital after having worked a homicide - I saw her just last year, same hospital by the ambulance bay, chain smoking as if she saw something from beyond.

  8. #8
    I love the story and as someone who had a teacher that was in a camp, it brought back memories. It was very moving, and hit close to home since my wife would have been one of those transports going from the prompt care to the emergency room. I’ve also known a few Ezras in my time. You have to learn to ignore the words and see the person.


    I found this sentence a little difficult and had to slow down to parse it out on my own. I made a suggested edit as something to consider.


    Everyone made it out in as close to one piece as possible and because the company would sooner give me a Cadillac than pay overtime, I was given the next day off, paid.

    Everyone made it out pretty much in one piece. I was given a paid day off the next day because the company would rather give me a Cadillac than pay overtime.


    Many like myself would understand COPD better if a reference was made to emphysema. He had COPD, a condition that used to be called emphysema.


    I know it’s a small thing, but it’s a reminder that today is all we have. There is a tinge of sadness that Ezra never received his book. I am glad I had the opportunity to read this piece.

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