I just received this email in response to my One-Sided post (which is nonfiction and is most definitely true in its entirety), which was also posted on Huffington Post.
I read your story One-Sided: EMTs Should Not Make Assumptions in the Huffington Post. As a 17 year vet of FDNY EMS I must say I was shocked by your story and your allegations. You have made a lot of disturbing claims against what you call “City EMT’s” and I must say simply based on what you have written I have my doubts about your story.
You are on a train when a person falls “unconscious”. They get the conductor he calls for help and the train waits at the station. Now you write:
“Seconds later, two women saying they were nurses appeared. They carefully turned the man over, felt a pulse, and ensured he was breathing. Sighs of relief spread throughout the car and the West Indian woman squeezed my hand hopefully. One nurse asked for some kind of stick to hold the man’s tongue down. A woman fumbled in her purse and produced a nail file, which the nurses took. They told a burly man sitting nearby to hold the collapsed man’s heavy, boot-clad legs up in the air and asked a woman to search his pockets for identification to give paramedics when they arrived. When the nurses pulled the file from the man’s mouth, it was covered with blood. “Oh no, oh God!” voices echoed. “He probably just bit his tongue,” someone said. Several people had now come from other cars and were looking in, concerned. “Is he drunk?” a man asked. “Don’t think so. I was near him and didn’t smell anything,” said another.”
I wonder why anyone would stick anything into someone’s mouth?
They were totally out of line and probably caused injury to the patient. You keep someone’s airway open by using a head tilt chin lift or a jaw thrust. There is no medical reason for what they did. None. Their actions injured the patient.
Why is anyone on the train going through his pockets? No one should do this. It serves no purpose. You are not writing a report. They need to wait for the police, fire or EMS crew to arrive. They will take care of that. That is after all their job. If the patient claims money is missing someone is going to have a lot of explaining to do.
“Is he drunk?” I love that one. Is he? Maybe he is a diabetic instead and has diabetic ketoacidosis? You never know.
Anyway…I love how you don’t bother to talk about these issues. Instead you attack EMS. They say “Clear out, clear out.” No kidding. Why the crowd? Give him some air and stop looking at the show. He has these “nurses” tending to him (unfortunately) and the truth is there is nothing for you to do. Yes the EMS crew could have been a little nicer in tone, but it’s the truth. They call out to him loudly and he responds. They get him into the stair chair and pull him off the train to continue their assessment. You say they are “laughing, talking, jokingly punching each other” something seems wrong here as well. That is a lot to see as the train is as you put it pulling away and you did say “I tried to watch the man out on the platform, but it was hard given all the commotion.”
I like when you write “For God’s sake, be careful,” said a young woman behind me, under her breath so only we could hear her. I think we were all rather afraid of the EMTs at this point.
Why were you afraid of EMS? What were they going to do to you on a train in front of dozens of witnesses? Did you think they were going to beat you up? You or anyone else on that train could have confronted that EMS crew. You could have asked for names and shield numbers. You or anyone else could have jumped off the train and waited for the police before you expressed your concerns to the crew. But no one did anything. What a shock. “Look the EMS crew is hurting him. I know what we will do…..nothing”
So who were these city EMT’s you talk about? If they did what you say and you are telling the truth then report them. But who are they? You say City EMTs and that would be the Fire Department, or are they a Private ambulance like Transcare? How about a private hospital EMS service? Do you know which one? Are they EMT’s, or Paramedics? 40% of EMS in NYC is private.
Let me tell you about the real EMS. They pay 40,000-50,000 dollars a year. That is 30-40 thousand dollars less than PD and Fire. You spend your shift 8-16 hours in a running ambulance parked on a street corner with no meal break or bathroom. You work in all kids of weather with all typs of people in all kinds of neighborhoods. You see and treat people who are wealthy and poor and black and white. You go from call to call and deal with shootings, stabbings, fires, auto accidents, EDPs, child abuse, rape, cardiac arrests, cancer patents, people with AIDS, TB, sickle cell crisis, seizures, CVA’s, amputations, emergency child birth, heat stroke, terrorist attacks and much, much more. It’s the greatest job on earth. We are here to help people.
One more thing. Don’t get your information about EMS from a novel. Black Flies is a work of Fiction. I worked Harlem in the early 1990’s. It is a nice book but it is not real. If you want to see life in EMS go for a ride along in Bed Stuy, or Jamaica on a Friday or Saturday night. It will open your eyes and your mind. One last thing you can always visit The National EMS Memorial http://www.nemsms.org/ Look at the endless list of EMT’s and Paramedics who have given their lives in the line of duty for people just like you.