Of Seizures and Shotguns

A Paramedic Story

Lee Durham and I were cruising around in the ambulance when we got a call to a kind of scruffy neighborhood for ‘fightin’ seizures’.  We headed down there with the usual fanfare.  As you probably suspect, there is no medical condition of fightin’(g) seizures.  So it wasn’t at all clear what would be going on when we got there.

I jumped out of the ambulance at the address and Lee set out to find a decent place to park it in a congested lot.  When I walked in the door of the apartment, there were two huge women sitting on a guy, who was trying to wriggle (unsuccessfully) out from underneath them.

My first life-saving act was to tell the women to get up.  They were going on about how the patient, the guy they were sitting on, had been trying to get hold of a shotgun.  I was interviewing the patient, trying to see if there was anything actually medical underlying all the noise.  One of the women shows up with the alleged shotgun.  Now the patient does want the shotgun, because the woman has it.  She’s just waving it around with one hand and doesn’t pose a threat for the most part, but the patient is a question mark.  So I’m staying between him and the shotgun.

Lee opens the door and walks into this mess.  Rather than turning around and running, Lee grabs the shotgun from the woman, jacks the shells out of it, and sets it outside the door.  The patient is standing in an opening to a hallway.  He looks into a bedroom, darts in, and yanks open the top dresser drawer.  I didn’t see a gun, but it sure seemed like a real possibility.  There were a couple of things I could have done at that point, but I chose to run into the bedroom and tackle the patient.  Lee also had a couple of choices, but he rushed in behind me and dived into the melee.

I had the patient in a full nelson and Lee had a few more loose ends.  Whenever the patient struggled we’d rub his head into the floor.  Somewhere in the confusion we had called for police backup and we waited what seemed like 20 minutes for them to show up.  When the police arrived we let the patient up and the whole scene was much calmer.  The cop searched the dresser drawer but there was no gun.  I still believe the patient thought there was one.  Since everything was calm now and there didn’t seem to be anything actually medical going on, we all just left.

This call was unusual enough to be worthy of the telling, but was not particularly exceptional.  Any medic reading this is thinking, ‘Oh yeah, we ran this call once where…’  And any medic on my shift I could have trusted to back me up like Lee did.  I tell my current federal employee co-workers that none of them rise to that standard.

Lee went to med school and is now an immunologist.  If you’re his patient, you can take solace in the fact that while quick thinking may not be required in the day-to-day battle against germs, Lee is the guy if something comes up.

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