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Saturday, April 9, 2016

Perspective Seventy-One

Perspective Seventy

I’m not a doctor, but I’m close; closer than most. Wow, that rhymed, and I definitely didn’t want it to. I can’t point to a single moment, or a single incident, that sparked my interested in medicine. It’s just been brewing for a while. I guess I could say that, whenever I watch action/adventure television, I notice they usually don’t have doctors around. It’s supposed to make it more exciting to watch the characters run around in dangerous situations without the luxury of a nearby hospital. They may be stranded on a remote island, or trapped in a hostage crisis, or it’s just the zombie apocalypse and all the doctors are dead. The best of these shows will have a character who acts as the next best thing; someone who’s had a little bit of training, but is still prone to panic. Ever since scouting, I guess I’ve just had this general obsession with being prepared. I watch those survivalist reality shows, research microponics, and read lifehacks online. So it was no surprise that I snatched my opportunity to learn some medicine.

I was browsing social media a few months ago when I came across this post from a friend of a friend who knew of an EMR program nearby. An Emergency Medical Responder is one step above first aid; something that many lay people know, and one step below Emergency Medical Technician; a path chosen for a career. I had always called it “second aid” without knowing that it was a real thing. I’m not the richest of people, but I don’t spend much on much, so I budgeted the class out and decided that it was important enough to me. We met two or three times a week for a few weeks. A lot of the material was actually the same used for EMT classes, and wouldn’t be on the final exam, but I didn’t mind. The more the better. Even before completing the course in full, I started mulling over the possibility of pursuing this field. But like I said before, that’s a career move, and not one I was totally comfortable with making without more thought. I wasn’t sure if wanted to actually drive an ambulance and respond to calls on the regular. I just wanna know, in case...the zombies show up. I did want to know if there was a way to take EMT classes, and to keep up to date on the license, without practicing. Does anyone in the world do that? If I had asked my instructor that question, she probably would have laughed me out of the room. So I just kept quiet.
Last night, I was wishing I had gone ahead with the more advanced training anyway. I don’t really work out all that much, but every once in awhile, I get this urge to just go out and walk. I took a few laps around the park on the edge of my neighborhood, then cut through the parking lot of a grocery store building that closed down years ago, and is still empty. I saw two men arguing up against a recycling dumpster, so my instincts took over and forced me to make myself as small as possible behind a pole. I wanted to be brave, and just keep walking, because they probably weren’t going to hurt me, but I was frozen. Then I just wanted to turn around and leave so I didn’t see something I would regret, but I still couldn’t move. God, all those hours watching heroes on TV, and I’m completely useless. I mean, how many police procedurals have I seen? Enough to do better than cower, I know this much.  That’s probably an unhealthy way to look at things, though, isn’t it? I’m not a cop, or a hero. I’m just some guy; some guy who knows how to treat wounds, but not prevent them.

The man with the tire iron appeared to be winning. I wasn’t close enough to hear what they were saying, and he was swinging his weapon around threateningly, but I got the distinct impression that he didn’t really want to use it. All of the sudden, his opponent shot both hands forward and struck tire iron guy in the shoulders. He fell to his ass and dropped the tire iron. It barely had any time on the ground, however, before the other guy picked it up and raised it over his head. The first guy tried backing away, still on the ground, but the bad guy wasn’t having it. He dropped the tire iron down in an arch and knocked it into one ankle. Then after a follow-through that would have made my little league baseball coach proud, he dropped it down again and struck the other ankle. I pushed a scream back down my throat, but the one being attacked was unable to do the same. He released a screeching howl, like that of a fox, loud enough to wake up a neighborhood. Unfortunately, for him, this part of town was all but abandoned, and only I was there to hear. Surely fearing for this life, the injured man reached up and grabbed the other end of the tire iron. The two of them played tug o’ war with it for a few seconds before the attacker let go. It didn’t even look like he lost his grip; he was just smart enough to know what would happen. The man on the ground was pulling it towards him with all his strength, so when he won the contest, he ended up smashing it into his own forehead.

This time, I couldn’t keep the scream down, but it wasn’t too loud, and the attacker did not appear to notice it. He stared at the guy on the ground for at least a minute, possibly waiting for him to move, but he didn’t. Even in the darkness, I would have seen movement. After the shock had worn off, the attacker wiped the tire iron with the sleeve of his shirt, and ran off. Finally, now that the danger had passed, I was able to remove myself from my stupor, and go help the poor guy. When Emergency Medical Services arrived, they claimed that I had properly used my training, and that there was nothing I could do, but I was not convinced. Sure, I technically had no obligation to step in before the fight had a chance to escalate, but I’ll always wonder how things would have turned out if I had just done it anyway. The man didn’t die instantly, but he had suffered from sufficient enough trauma to prevent him from speaking to me. Yet in my mind, I’ll always imagine him having asked me why I didn’t save him. When I call upon the memory of that night, that’s what he’ll be saying to me, and I will never have an answer. But I might be able to stop this sort of thing from happening to me ever again. I’ll be signing up for EMT training on Monday. Screw my career.

Perspective Seventy-Two

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