I am a full time firefighter/EMT for a moderately sized city (~125k population). At about 2am, I responded along with my partner on an ALS medic unit to a possible stabbing. We were advised upon dispatch that the patient had been stabbed in the abdomen.
PD was already en route and we met on the road halfway there and he followed us in. The scene appeared secure and with the two PD officers watching over us, we went up to the house where the patient was. The patient was standing at the front door with nothing visible. We asked him if he had been stabbed and he said he had and pointed downwards. We told him we needed to see the wound whereas he pulled down his pants to show two lacerations to his genitals.
This is not really all that pertinent but I am trying to set the scene a bit to explain where the “oh @#!&” comes in. He gave us a fabricated story of getting attacked by a group of guys on the street and somehow he got cut.
Ok… now that being said, he agreed to transport after some dispute- he was under the impression we should stitch him right there in his living room. Needless to say that was not happening.
Now while we were in the residence we never left the living room which was right inside the front door. The residence was completely quiet and as far as we (and PD) knew the residence was empty with the exception of this man, his adult son, and his grandson. After we moved the patient out of the house and into my MICU, the patient asked very politely that I check with his son to be sure he had his cell phone with him so he could be reached from the hospital.
Not seeing any reason not to, I stepped out of the box and walked to the still open front door. As I climbed the steps, the PD officers drove off without a word to either me or my partner. Mistake #1. Now as I approached the door, the patient’s son came around the corner and saw me. He looked a little startled and immediately ordered me not to take one more step. Naturally I stopped exactly where I was and explained what I was doing back on the front porch.
Keep in mind that I am in a very poor and crime ridden area so my self preservation instincts are on full alert at this point. The patient’s son tells me to stay where I am and he will check for his phone. While I am standing there (for all of 30-45seconds) I realize that there is a very inhospitable gentleman sitting on the couch just outside of my field of view holding the grandson and staring me down. Thats mystery guest #1 and he makes me extremely uneasy.
I begin to start taking steps backwards and then I hear screams and a fight break out somewhere in the rear of this tiny house. I now hear 2 female voices for mystery guests 2 and 3. I start to pick up the pace of my retreat when a ghetto pit bull walks around the corner and charges me. Now when I say ghetto pit bull, I am referring to a pit bull that is obviously malnourished, its fur is all matted and gnarled up, and is deadly mean.
Any of the readers who work in bad areas know exactly what kind of dog I am referring to. The dog charges across the porch as I take off at a dead sprint for my ambulance. I got lucky as the patient’s son appeared just in time to snag the mutt before I became his new chew toy. I honestly dont think I would have made it to the ambulance in time. I immediately called for PD back to the scene as I should have done as soon as they left and without waiting, transported my patient to the hospital.
1. Always keep in mind where you are and what you are responding to. I was in a particularly bad neighborhood of a particularly bad area… when even the gang bangers and crackheads avoid this neighborhood, its time you paid attention to it too. We don’t have the luxury of avoiding it when we get a call but don’t let yourself get complacent.
2. DO NOT EVER LET PD LEAVE YOU. I believed the scene to be secure and that the patient’s son who I had spoken with earlier to be a non-hostile person. Wrong! He was only hospitable because PD was there…
3. When intimidating mystery guests pop up and you’re alone without back-up, get the #$&@ out of there! A lousy cell phone was not worth my hide… I try to work with my patients but at 2am in that neighborhood without PD that was not a smart move on my part especially when I knew it to be an assault and most likely not the story given by the patient.
4. Retreat to your ambulance and/or to another area the absolute second you feel that the scene is not 100% safe. As soon as my instincts kicked in and said, “hey bud, look out something aint right” I should have turned around and walked away. I hope my experience here might help someone avoid this scare and especially avoid becoming some dogs chew toy as I nearly did.
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