The Liability of Stupidity


It was just after one in the morning when the Outside patrol officer radioed in that he had discovered a man, unconscious and bleeding from his head, laying in the rock embankment between parking lots one and three. It was New Years Eve Night, unwanted but not wholly unexpected.

I responded to the patrol officer, “10-4, unit 95, I’m rolling REMSA, all units standby.”

Picking up the telephone, I pushed the tone button at the same time. I repeated the information so that all other officers on duty would be aware that an emergency was in progress and that radio traffic would be limited to emergencies messages only.

Then I dialed 9-1-1, telling the dispatcher on the other end of the telephone the situation he had.

Once I knew an ambulance was on its way I returned to the main console and brought the outside unit up on camera. I zoomed in until the officer and the body lying in the rocks filled the small viewing screen.

By this time a supervisor had shown up and he was attempting to wake the unconscious man up to move him. However the injured man would not wake up.

“Command to Adam-2” I said, “REMSA is enroute. E-T-A less than five off of Mill Street.”

The supervisor responded, “10-4, be advised that guest is 10-56.”

“10-4”, I commented, making a note in the log that Adam-2 was on the scene and detected the presence of alcohol on the man’s breath.

As I glanced up I saw the supervisor turn the man’s head from one side to the other. The sight caused me to cringe.

Stepping down on the microphones remote button, I spoke as calmly and as authoritatively as I could, “Adam-2, secure the guests head and neck for possible spinal cord injury.”

The supervisor pulled his hands away from the man and moved to his feet just as the ambulance arrived on the scene. I shook his head from side to side, feeling a wave of disgust well up inside.

I continued to watch as the paramedics placed a c-collar on the man and rolled him over on his side as gently and carefully as possible to slip a hard board under him prior to moving him onto the gurney and then the ambulance.

Jus’ as the ambulance was pulling away from the scene, the first shifts watch commander walked into the dispatch room. He was a portly man with sad sack eyes, a waxy pallor and very little hair.

On his rolled up sleeve he wore the striped of a sergeant.

He shuffled as he walked up behind me as he spoke in a bellowing voice, “We don’t give medical directions here, got it?”

It as much less a question as a command.

“Yeah, I know that,” I answered. “But you’d think our boss would know enough not to move the head and neck of an unconscious man especially, one who is bleeding from the face.”

The Watch Commander stood there momentarily stunned. He was not used to subordinates getting in his face.

Then he responded, “I don’t care, we don’t give medical directions, period. Do I make myself clear?”

“Yes sir, you made yourself very clear,” I replied.

The old man never said another word to me as he turned and shuffled out of the dispatch room. With that I turned around and wrote down what he had said and why I had done what I had done.

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