EMT

The call came in to emergency dispatch, at about 6:30 in the evening, for a woman down at a restaurant one town away. When we arrived with the ambulance, local firefighters already on the scene greeted us at the door. “What we have inside is an elderly lady on the floor. She has no obvious injuries, but is refusing to be examined or moved. Good luck with this one.” Why were they snickering?

Our victim was there with her husband and another couple, and appeared to have had a bit too much wine on an empty stomach. Her companions advised us that she had decided to make a quick trip to the Ladies’ Room before dinner was served, but collapsed like a souffle prematurely removed from the oven as soon as she took a step.

We heard her before we spotted her inert body in the middle of the main dining room. She was not a quiet drunk, and was making her indignation known to rescue personnel and diners alike. This delicate damsel – a true featherweight – battled our squad of beefy men like a rooster in a cockfight. And she was winning. Even the pleas of her spouse and friends were ignored. No one could get near her without risk of serious bodily harm, or profound deafness from the booming profanities projected from her thread-thin lips. “Not my grandmother’s vocabulary,” I joked.

But we had no time for bantering, as she might need immediate medical attention; she was also disrupting the entire establishment with her colorful commentary. So we reasoned, we pleaded, we threatened; the men even tried flirting and cajoling – all to no avail. Clearly, this was a standoff.

“Give me a minute,” I said to my crew. I went to the hostess and asked to speak to the manager. I outlined a plan, and he concurred.

Kneeling now near the patient’s head, I leaned low to whisper in her ear. “Look at the carpet,” I suggested. “It is full of crumbs and little chunks of dinner rolls.” She glanced away briefly. Encouraged, I continued, ” Soon the restaurant will be closing, and when it does the mice will come out to have their feast.” Now she faced me with eyeballs enlarged. I gave a prearranged hand signal, and the manager dimmed the lights to near-darkness in the area. “See?” I pointed out. “The staff are getting ready to leave now. The mice should be scampering about any minute!”

“Pick me up!” she demanded. Yes, ma’am! We couldn’t get her off that floor fast enough, though we had to “board and collar” her to stabilize her spine – standard procedure in a fall accident. She wanted none of it, but fortunately was in no position to argue as her other choice was to be left in place as rodent fodder.

We were finally able to remove her from the building; the lights went back on, and the patrons proceeded with their meals in peace. Our en route exam showed her to be in good physical condition. We left her at the hospital to be treated for the troublesome effects of too much toasting.

I hung my EMT jacket at the station when my shift ended. The next time I came in, I found that someone had enjoyed a little teasing at my expense. My badge read: Bette Isacoff, EMT. Underneath, the perpetrator had taped, “Expert MouseTherapist.”