They call it “The Curse of The Ride Along” and it goes something like this: No matter how many calls the squad has been on in the preceding hours, or how many they will go on after you leave, while you are there for a ride along, nothing – absolutely nothing – will happen.
I feel I must tell you, I am not really one to believe in curses, I don’t put much stock in “Murphy’s Law” (which, as a veteran fire wife who has had her share of shift day emergencies, that is saying a lot), and I never ever hardly ever throw my hands up in despair exclaiming, “Why me?!?” or “Of course this would happen today!!!”
After talking about it for nearly four years, we finally scheduled a day for me to ride along on the paramedic squad with my husband and his partner. His partner invited his girlfriend along too, (we will call her Carrie) so it was like a double date.
Oh, and I have to mention that this is my husband’s last week at his current paramedic spot, he is changing firehouses and positions this month, so this was my very last chance to do a ride along and see what he does every day.
The night before I lay awake in bed, wondering what kind of awesome things I would get to see on my ride along. I pre-planned what I would do if I felt a little sick at the sight of blood or some weird smell. I made sure to eat a good breakfast because I am always hearing about how all their meals are interrupted and since I would be there for lunch time, I wanted to make sure I didn’t end up too hungry. I packed the kids snacks and entertainment for the afternoon they would be spending with their grandparents. I was giddy with excitement!
Okay, maybe not exactly nothing, but nothing “good.”
Carrie and I arrived at just about the same time and were welcomed into the station. We sat in the blue chairs with the Captain on shift that day and watched T.V. for about 45 minutes – uninterrupted.
Then, we headed out to have lunch with our men, and right after we ordered, the radio toned and we had to go. It was so exciting! Hopped in the squad, hit the lights and sirens, got about a mile and a half down the road, and the call was canceled. So, we headed back to the restaurant where we enjoyed a leisurely lunch – uninterrupted.
After lunch we headed over to a local festival in town that was right down the street from their station – and we walked around and shopped for over an hour – uninterrupted.
Headed back to the station and as soon as we get in, we got a call! Woo hoo! It was a ways from the station (the medic districts are pretty big out here in our desert) and we got very nearly all the way there, and it was canceled. It was a report of a guy lying on the side of the road, but he was nowhere to be found.
Turned around and headed back. I grabbed some water and just as I sat down, another call came in. Well, not a new call exactly, it was another report of the same guy on the side of the road, only five miles further down the road than where the squad had been dispatched to. Out we go again, only to be canceled AGAIN as we neared the location. Again, no one could find the guy!
As we headed back to the station, another call came in. Ooh, and it promised to be a good one – an overdose! Yes! Now we’re talking! (Quick disclaimer: I really don’t want to see anyone hurt or sick, I just wanted to see what my husband does all day. I am kind of glad that the people of the town were well and whole that day, but darn it! I wanted action!)
This is when it really got exciting! The previous call had been way out in the middle of nowhere, but this call was right in town. We were going lights and sirens! Weaving in and out of traffic! Watching cars hurry to pull over! Honking at cars that were taking too long! Heading into oncoming traffic to get around a congested intersection! My heart was racing and I know I squealed in fear at least a couple of times. It was so fun!
We get to the location and run up to the apartment and there in the apartment is the ambulance crew, the engine crew from another station, and I scan the floor for the victim of the overdose expecting to see something like in the movies – a junky with the needle still in their arm, old leather belt around their bicep, foaming at the mouth, the stench of loosed bowels and vomit – but all I see is a little old lady on the couch saying that she thinks she took too many of her pills and reminding us to close the door because she has cats. According to protocol they had to transport her via ambulance to the hospital, so Carrie and I got out of the way while they loaded the little old lady up.
As we were headed back down to the squad to get ready to follow the ambulance over to the hospital, we passed the Sheriff Deputies in the hall and my husband, who was driving that day, informed them that it was an accidental overdose and she wasn’t trying to hurt herself. The Deputies thanked my husband and then one of them turned to me and Carrie and said, “Give us a call if you ever want to go for a ‘real’ ride-along.” I nearly peed myself laughing!
After the uneventful transport across the street to the hospital – yes, across the street – and a ten minute wait while they got her admitted, we headed back to the station again. By this time, we had already been hanging out for around five hours and I had to pick up the kids from Grandma and Grandpa’s so it was time for me to head out.
I got home and began waiting patiently for my “good night” call, which did not come until nearly 9:30 that night. My husband said that about 45 minutes after I left, they got a bunch of calls right after another – chest pain, trauma, trouble breathing – figures. Stupid curse.
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