13 January 2009

Mid-Night Diversions

The scene: a major urban ER at 3AM. Four nurses are huddled at the nursing station, reviewing the forthcoming schedule. Three or four patients populate the near-empty department. Your author sits to the side, studiously completing charts. The lights are dim, reflecting the lack of work to be done and the mid-night torpor of the staff.

The medic phone shatters the quiet, jolting everyone awake. The charge nurse activates the speakerphone. "Central Hospital, go ahead."
The response comes in a drawl worthy of a good ol' boy, "Yeah, Central, this is Ron on Medic 31 with a report for y'all."
"Medic 31?" The nurse responds, "You're pretty far from your home area, aren't you?"
"Well, I called Big Hospital but they sent us your way."
"But they're not on diversion -- they're not even busy!" protested the nurse. Sighing, she gave up, "Whatever. Go ahead. What do you have?"
"I've got ol' Bill Boozehound. He was found unsresponsive on a park bench again."
"Great," the nurse grumbled. "Now I know why they diverted you. Anything up with him tonight, or just drunk again?"
"Nah, just drunk. He looks pretty bad. I think he crapped himself, and he's soaked in urine. And there are an awful lot of bugs -- I don't think they're maggots, but they're pretty big to be lice."
"Well, that's just lovely. What's your ETA?"
"We'll see you in five."

The phone is hung up and much grumbling and indignation ensues from the nursing staff. Where the hell does Big Hospital get off dumping their crap on us? Especially because they're not even busy! Foot stomping and irritation flare. A bed and decontamination gear are prepped. This night, the consensus is, just got ugly. Bill is well known to us all, and is vile and unpleasant, obnoxious and can be a real handful when he's had a few. Which is every night. Five minutes pass, and there is no ambulance. Ten minutes turn into twenty and still they do not show. The tension mounts. Finally the phone rings again, and three nurses pounce on it.

"Central Hospital."
"Hey there Central, this is Ron on Medic 31 again. I'm sorry to bother you, but can you refresh my memory: exactly where are you all located?"
"You mean," the nurse stammers in disbelief, "Our address?"
"Yeah, it's late and I think I just spaced. Where are y'all at?"
"We're on 12th and Grand."
"Oh, God, that's right. Damn. I was heading north on 99." (muffled) "Hey Tim, turn the rig around -- they're south!"
"Are you kidding us? You're lost?"
"No, no. We're good now. Thanks for you help. We'll see you in ten."
"Central out."

The phone is slammed down and heads shake at the absolute morons they let drive ambulances these days. How in the hell do you get lost going to the biggest hospital in the county? Idiots. The waiting recommences. But still no Medic 31. In another twenty minutes, the medic phone rings again. This time, the nurses are a little more tentative in answering:

"Central Hospital?"
"Oh, hi there. This is Ron again. From Medic 31. Hey, Bill was getting a little queasy and we thought some donuts would settle his stomach, so we stopped at Henry's to get some. Y'all want we should pick you up some, too? They're fresh."
"You're stopping for donuts with a patient in the rig?!?"
"Ah, it's just Bill. He's fine. Y'all like chocolate?" (silence) "Well, never mind. We'll just get you an assortment. See you in five."

It is with utter disbelief that the phone is deactivated. Donuts? Oh. My. God. This staggers the imagination, and the poor charge nurse just holds her head in her hands. To nobody's surprise, Medic 31 fails to arrive in five minutes. Or ten. Or twenty. The phone rings again. The nurses look at one another, but nobody dares answer it. Finally, on the fourth ring, someone switches it on.

"Central Hospital, go ahead."
A clipped staccato voice comes forth, with military precision: "Central, this is County Dispatch. We're looking for Medic 31. They're been MIA for over an hour. Have you heard from them?"

That opened the floodgates, and the whole story spilled out in torrents from the aggrieved and astonished nursing staff. I'm not sure how anyone could have absorbed it from the confused welter of voices, but Dispatch took it in and promised to look into the matter. Medic 31 never did show up.

A bit later, my friend and partner, Dr PB, called over from Big Hospital (we staff both), where he was working the overnight shift. "Hey Shadow, how's it going?"
"Pretty dead. You?"
"Totally dead. Anything interesting?"
"We had this weird situation with Medic 31..."
"You don't say." He slipped into a drawl, "Say, y'all like chocolate donuts? 'Cuz I like chocolate."

He waited for a moment while the implication sank in on me.

"I see. I see. Well played, my friend. Well played."
"See you are conference tomorrow?"
"See you there."


  1. You just got punked! Any plans for revenge?

  2. THAT is hilarious. You have to get the tapes from those calls and put them up on YouTube. You'll get a million hits easy.

  3. wow ... it's going to be hard to top that one. almost makes the overnight shift worth it ... almost!

  4. That is unbelievably funny....OMG.

  5. Just for reference, I was just a passive observer in this awesome drama. It was the nurses who were truly punk'd. I thought it was pretty funny -- I only wish I'd been in on the joke in advance.

  6. is that legal? Although I think its damn funny! They really got you guys!

    PS. the word verification for this post is "grabust"! ha ha ha

  7. So what plans for revenge, come on there must be something you can plan for the next (all too infrequent) quiet night!

  8. Gotta love PB and his practical jokes!1


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