The following will likely be the intro to my ER book which is in progress. Read it here before you have to pay for it. 😀
It’s a typical ER shift. The ER is buzzing with the footsteps of patients coming and going, and the incessant and merciless beeping of cardiac monitors. The chatter of loitering family members echoes down the hallway. Doctors and nurses are exchanging orders and assessing patients. I’m the charge nurse this day. I’m called to the warden’s office, that is, the nursing supervisor. I exit the busy ER through the back door.
I’m in the warden’s office around 5-10 minutes. We resolve whatever issue is at hand. I depart and reenter through the rear doors of the ER. I’m immediately aware of an eerie silence which has replaced the normal chaos, the kind of silence is that is almost NEVER present in the ER. I round the corner to find every single patient door closed shut, save for one: The one with a trail of blood coming from the open door and leading down the hallway, around the nurse’s station. I see no one, not patients, not nurses, not doctors, not custodians. The place is a ghost town.
I move cautiously down the hall toward the nurse’s station. Of a sudden, one of my nurses rounds the nurse station desk with screeching heels, screaming.
My mind warily replies.
Oh, shit. Here we go.
I follow the nurse and sprint around the nurse’s station toward the ambulance bay, where the rest of my ER staff have gathered, looking out toward the parking lot, where the there is a bald, barefoot and shirtless caucasian man (around 280 lb.) involved in a violently verbal altercation with whom I can only assume are two female family members attempting to talk him down. It’s going super well, about as well as dropping the news to a baby’s daddy that he’s STD positive, in front of his wife and his side bae. I’m pretty sure that this is the patient whose room was left open in the ER, mainly on account of the still profusely bleeding wound on his arm from where he ripped out his own IV.
He makes a move toward the front entrance of the hospital. Shit biscuits! We begin to move in and taunt him, because we’re worried he may enter the front entrance of the hospital and go serial killer frenzy on the patrons inside the waiting room. The next half hour is filled with strategic taunts to keep him bouncing like a schizophrenic tennis ball between our ambulance bay and the front waiting room, doing our best to prevent the murder of one of our own, while waiting for what seems like an eternity for the police.
Eventually, a small-framed officer emerges from the interior doors into the ambulance bay. This excites the psycho killer verily, who obviously has an aversion to cops. He marches up to the ambulance bay, comes within ten feet of the cop, and begins a brutal cacophony of racial slurs and insults. The cop brandishes his taser and patiently begins attempts to reason with the lumberjack. This cop is way more patient that I am. I would later tell the officer that if I were a black man, I would have pulled that fucking trigger within the first fifteen seconds of said insults. To this day I admire the guy for keeping his composure whilst being blasted with every verbal cheap shot in the book.
The cop must’ve given Psycho Jack a dozen warnings. Psycho Jack prepares for his last stand with one last “fuck you” and makes a move in the direction of us and the cop, who calmly pulls the trigger for the safety and benefit of all present. The unmistakable electrifying buzz of a few thousand volts of electricity pierces the air. The lumberjack freezes in his tracks and begins to seize, his muscles in tetany from the shock, and tips over like a stiff redwood tree. The sound of heavy flesh hitting concrete is a very distinct one, dull, hackneyed. The lumberjack attempts some vocalizations. From what I could gather, it sounded a lot like “Ugh! Stop! No more!”
He’s cuffed and detained. I ask the cop how in the hell he’d kept his composure in the face of such brutal insults.
He shrugs calmly. “Meh, they’re just words. You can’t lose your cool.”
Welcome to the world of emergency medicine. I often tell rookies entering this profession that this is the only specialty in the hospital where you are required to see any and everything that comes through that door without question, violent, threatening, deranged as it is.
Every other specialty which I’ve observed has some degree control in being able to say, “Hold on, give me a minute to catch up,” or “We’re really slammed right now; can you give us thirty?” Not so with the ER. I’ve never been able to tell a dying patient, “Hold on bro. I don’t have a clean room. Bleed out here while I get some patients discharged, and I’ll get to you.”
Stay tuned for more stories. Cheers.
- No corras con las tijeras en la mano // Don’t run with the scissors on the hand by Guzman Lozano at https://www.flickr.com/photos/pictfactory/2888980027/in/photolist-5phM7t-yeBSbR-hp1uU3-29uhYau-kwoo3-5VjhKK-qJ7EXE-HcJ93-ddHam3-zwBNf-efRkiG-eafck-exxcR-HNHf-dFbK8-4oEu5u-7mD6p6-9mW8nk-5hbxuz-8bAcCo-26HkDbE-8rqoHS-9sns9g-8zqQsa-242ByR-4EAxs4-6qEThm-m2aVKz-WCe55j-njGj7X-3fbBrj-9rS3So-9hmY4b-aqEPLj-n98knH-8q5rjG-DcGDhW-6JrkGj-q55d7k-WUYJxm-rziLv-q9NDj-5gb6wX-FiZ1bi-niax2n-ucBZyU-ALLk3-8rLpTL-9igrti-GN2pzc
- emergency 9993 by Wonderlane https://www.flickr.com/photos/wonderlane/5139152432/in/photolist-8Q8uYq-dSX235-mHxid3-7g7J4f-8K2b7p-mGe9YR-5TXtTi-bf51Cv-5j8bW4-eghfxu-bUrEwb-5MP9H-mBHomM-9n3zLx-e4KCYz-ob6jpR-cgohUu-bw5595-9ZUheB-9rQZPn-k6aCe8-8s5Pjo-92d98q-9cE8mo-dbPAcK-2bWPqNQ-abbTh1-7x7jKV-fU477W-5w461B-9kbXMm-adQEHi-ap9wer-5XSirM-ats2WH-e4LkmC-r3U11T-bHPds2-egnVWC-g9nbmY-cN4KxJ-9doifo-7seMKf-psU5Ab-dRg19S-5XSdgg-qPjDuu-2bEfjYX-H7sDLC-2bEfkdK
- Photo by Kevin Grieve on Unsplash https://unsplash.com/photos/eVCAsAu1vNw