Thursday, December 09, 2004

Dealing with the dead...

While my main career is in law enforcement, I became an EMT a few years back for something to do and for supplemental income. Any LEO knows you need that. Anyway, there were a few interesting calls in that job let me tell you. Any EMS worker can back that up with probably more than a few of their own. This is one of those that the general public may not understand, but any emergency services person who has been around the block on the bus a few times has dealt with this and more, and knows exactly where I'm coming from.

My partner and I, both part timers, usually worked Saturday night shifts together. Those were the best times. If we weren't running calls it was NASCAR for him until bedtime, and all night music channels on the TV for me after that.

Early one morning we got a call of a elderly woman who apparently died at home. No problem for us. Go out, run a strip, confirm the family fears, let the cops handle the rest of it while we went back to the base. I'm driving, The Plumber is taking care of the run report/radio, and we're heading out to the call. I turn down the street and it's wall-to-wall cars. I'm thinking someone must have a party going on in one house and their neighbor missed it because they died. I barely have enough room to get the truck down the street, finally see the police cars, and have to park still further down the street. We bring in the monitor because we already know we don't need anything else. When we get inside there's a living room full of people. These folks called everyone and their brother to come over. We expect to find the recently deceased in bed, where they are the majority of the time. No way. She's in the living room with the other folks. I hear someone telling the grandson, who really is a decent kid, but just a bit on the slow side "Doesn't she look just like an Angel?" Then I see her- -the old woman who passed more than just a short time before they called us.

I held my tongue, but what I really want to tell the guy was No, she doesn't look like an Angel, and don't lie to the kid. Look at her. She's dead, you people have her propped up in a chair she probably never sat in because it's uncomfortable looking even for the dead. Her head's leaned over so far it would hurt the living but you just let her set there like that. She's in her night gown that's not closed up, and her tongue is hanging out. There's more people in the room than will probably be at her funeral, and you think she looks like an Angel? She looks like something out of a cartoon, without the black crosses on her eyes. I don't know where the Hell this guy gets his Angel pictures, but it's not the same place I get mine.

We got our strip, told the cops what we found, and then had to listen while one of the other family members told us to leave her there until the preacher got there. Sure no problem. Early morning visitation planned? She's not going anywhere but the funeral home anyhow. And we're not taking her. That's their job.

My partner had the same thoughts I did. He left me to unhook the monitor and he was out the door. Stuff like that never ceases to amaze me, but I guess I'm surprised every time it happens.

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