Facebook is fantastic! There are people you don’t see for ages, and there they are, back in your life thanks to Facebook. I love it! And along with people comes the memory of a time long lost. Memories and stories you’d better forget. Events that I have witnessed in the many years I spent working on the ambulances of the small town of Mendaci. Storied that you don’t want to know, my dear reader. Because they are not nice. — Yet, I am not referring to blood and death. No. I am referring to the unethical behavior of those who were supposed to be saving lives.
As the day we rushed to an apartment on the third floor of an old condo. And there a woman in her sixties was waiting and crying. Her son, she told us, was lying dead on the floor of her sleeping room. When we entered, we saw a syringe on his side, his arms signed by a long story of substance abuse, his skin color blue, his lips purple. I will never forget how the medical doctor approached that case. With all his cool, without even lowering his eyes, he got closer to the man lying on the floor. And then, he just kicked the inert body with his boot. “It’s already stiff” — the doctor said, cold — ”we will not waste our time here!”
Another day, I arrived on the place of intervention with a medical doctor. The patient was in cardiac arrest: her heart was not beating. We started to perform the resuscitation, and we called for support. When the second ambulance arrived, the nurse of that team entered the room. She looked around and said loudly “Rest in peace! Why do you bother me to come and resuscitate this old crap?”. I saw the husband of our poor patient getting out of the room in tears. No one else cared.
I remember a night running with sirens to the hospital: red code, the patient was not breathing, nor his heart was beating. With my great surprise, the nurse was just sitting there, in the back, without continuing the resuscitation procedures. I asked: “Did you stop?”. “Yes, he is dead, but let’s keep the red code, I don’t want to get responsibilities.” Eventually we reached the hospital. When we arrived, I turned off the engine, got out, and opened the door of the ambulance to take the patient out. In that moment some nurses from the ER came, knowing we had a red code. And to my great surprise, the ambulance nurse started to pretend he was resuscitating the patient.
And what about the nurse at the dispatch who was coming to work with several bottles of beer, was getting drunk during the night shift and then was getting asleep. I remember the telephone ringing, and that nurse not answering the emergency calls. Every one knew, no one took any action.
Then there was another nurse who was playing video games all the night, and he was letting an ambulance driver to answer the emergency phone calls and manage the dispatch so that he could keep playing. Don’t ask how I do know. And that’s not all. A Friday night, I entered the storage room to refurbish some material for my ambulance, and I found two nurses naked under a blanket. They were supposed to be the other ambulance team in service, that night!
I remember people lying at the ambulance’s radio, when asked for the availability: just to work less. Or the nurse who decided to bring a patient to the hospital with sirens (a yellow code!) just because it started to rain and his son was getting out of school without umbrella. Poor boy (he was 15), we have to rush back to Mendaci, and bring him some support. So let’s cheat on the patient’s conditions.
I saw nurses injecting the wrong medicine and then covering their mistake. I heard doctors asking the patients to sign documents stating something, but explaining to them something different. I saw nurses and medical doctors delaying the answer to a call just to finish their meal.
Don’t get me wrong: I also saw acts of heroism, people making a difference, and many life being saved. I will always admire some people I worked with. Heroes who will never get a medal. People I do not want to offend with these memories. They are the best part. But, as in every human ensemble, there are also the villains out there. And you need to know.
I am told things are different now. I have no reason to doubt. Maybe even these stories are just part of my vivid imagination. I wouldn’t trust someone telling such lies. Yes, indeed, don’t believe a single word. These episodes never ever happened in real life. You know, sometimes I prefer not to remember those days at the hospital of Mendaci, and I make up stories in my mind. Maybe.