Wednesday, July 15

Give me a reason

"Give me a reason to drop you. Do it." Is not often something I want to hear on a call, but this time it was a uniformed police officer saying it, so I was cool. I want to say it, but I'd likely get dropped instead of dropping someone.


Police have found an intoxicated man.


Again, I have done extensive research on this subject, so trust me. Alcohol intoxication is not an emergency, nor is it necessarily against the law. But when you start stumbling down the street I guess concerned citizens call 911 instead of asking if you need help.

Between the citizen calling 911 (then driving away I might add) and our arrival, a police cruiser appears to have encountered our friend. He wasn't too excited to see the officers and made a move, we find him on the prone on the ground with an officer on his back.

"Gentlemen, can we be of assistance or is this a police matter?" I open with a leading question in these cases, sometimes it works.

Not tonight.

"He's drunk and acting stupid" the officer keeping our man down says.
"Then a room full of sick people is exactly where he belongs! Can he stand by himself?"

They remind our man about keeping calm and that the ambulance will be taking him in, which he disagrees with at first.
"Is he in your custody?" I ask, receiving a chuckle and a negative answer.

"If you can walk away friend, you can do so at your leisure, unless you require medical assistance." I say and he just stares at me.

"You're ugly, you know that? Real ugly." He tells me, the common heavy odor of hour old liquor on his breath, "You're all ugly. A bunch of..."

You could tell he hesitated at his choice of words, carefully balancing the word with a possible outcome. Then the alcohol took over in his brain that said 'screw it who cares!'


"Give me a reason to drop you. Do it." The officer says shifting his stance. I was ready to watch the sidewalk rumble go down. I'm a lover, not a fighter, as you all well know, but I wanted to see this guy get owned.

Alas, he backed down and sat down cross legged on the sidewalk, clearly understanding he had already lost the fight that never happened.

"He's all yours," I'm told, wondering when being drunk and stupid became an emergency warranting an ambulance.

The basin made it into his lap just in time for the chunky stuff and I donned an N95 for the rest of the thankfully short drive to the waiting room of St Closest.

He was up and out the doors before I had given a report to triage.

And we wonder why ambulances are so busy these days?


Ohio Medic said...

Dear Lord, this incident repeats itself a thousand times a month where I work. I can't count the number of times a police officer stares down someone who is simply intoxicated and mouthy and says "you can either go with EMS or you can go to jail". Guess which one the drunk chooses 99% of the time?

I asked a police officer friend why this well-rehearsed line was used so often, and at first, I got the standard speech about liability and medical evaluation. After respectfully debunking that argument, he looked at me and said "look, we're busy, and we're understaffed. If we arrest him, we have to take him to the station, book him, let him call a friend or an attorney or whoever he wants, write up a bunch of paperwork about what happened, then transport him 15 miles out of town to the regional jail. That's a whole lot of time to be out of service with a drunk when other stuff is going on. And besides, he might want to fight and we'll have to deal with that, or he might vomit all over the inside of our car or here at the station, and we'd have to clean it up. And then we have to go to court on him in a few months and it's always on our day off so that get ruined."

I stood there in utter disbelief.

"So we give him to you guys, and you zip him across town to the ER. He's out of our hair, our butts are covered as far as liability, no paperwork, no mess, and we can go on to the next call and do real police work."

Proof positive that EMS is the read headed stepchild of emergency services and social services. There ought to be a law ...

Ohio Medic said...

Sorry. The last sentence should be "red headed stepchild".

Anonymous said...

Ahhh, the good old Police 'v' Paramedic game for who takes the drunk.
Sometimes we win and the police get lumbered with them, sometime we loose and we get their company all the way to A&E.
What really throws the police over here though, is when they call us for a drunk, and we arrive and assess him, then tell them he doesnt need to go to hospital and we wont be taking him!!
"Respond not Convey"...You gotta love it somethimes.

The Happy Medic said...

999, don't ever say that, ever again.
"Respond, not convey"'re just bragging...


Ohio Medic said...

I wihs we had that luxury! Our department is prohibited from refusing transport to anyone under any circumstance unless a physician can be contacted by radio (a recorded channel) and is given the paramedic's patient evaluation and the doc agrees that transport isn't necessary and he/she agrees to assume full responsibility for the patient's well being.

In other words, it ain't happening. We just shut our mouth and transport 'em.

Anonymous said...

Hey HM ..... Medic999 isn't the only medic who doesn't always have to transport intoxicated patients ..... I've had medics tell police 'We've checked out this intoxicated person, and yes s/he is intoxicated, but not intoxicated enough to go to hospital. Guess s/he need to go to the drunk tank - good luck' and then leave the patient with police.

Sometimes my medic request police to attend their intoxicated patient calls just in case they can handle the patient better then EMS can.

MotorCop said...


As the only apparent LE rep allow me to wax philosophic. Where I work, if we got someone over the top intoxicated, we call Fire to check him out. This does not preclude dude going to jail, though. The issue is the jail may reject the in-custody (depending on the level of intoxication) at which time we have to take drunkard to St. B.S where we sit with him. For hours. Takes us off the street and, yes, we are short staffed.

Is there any easy answer? Nope. In Town, though, more often than not, you go to jail. We're on to your bullshit and we're not letting the nice Fire guys get you out of a trip to the hoosegow. That's right, bitches. Hoosegow.

The Happy Medic said...

My issue is not with PD not taking him, but that I have to.

Drunk ain't hurt, as Jayne would say.

We should be able to leave him where we found him, so long as everything else checks out.

Little Girl, we HAD a "drunk tank" until someone died there. Now it is run by a "non-profit" who can pick and choose who gets in, I believe, based on smell.

I think a padded warehouse with supervisors is the solution. Make the door require a breathalyzer to get out. Ding, I win.

Anonymous said...

HM, we have a paid paramedic who works at the drunk tank to watch over all its occupants; for many years it was one of our medics, but a few years ago the police service decided to hires a 'private paramedic service' to babysit the drunk tank.

However, I like you idea about the warehouse with a breathalyzer to leave.

SJMedic said...

ETOH alone does not preclude someone from being able to refuse treatment, especially if they have no medical complaint. So if cops use the, "hospital or jail" line, I always inform them AND the patient that if he is not under arrest, then he can AMA at any time.