“Medic 9, respond for the unresponsive male. . .”


A BLS ambulance arrives before us and begins doing their thing. He has a pulse but isn't breathing. Oxygen and a BVM will take care of that for the moment. His environment suggests heroin overdose; his pinpoint pupils and track marks scream it. The Narcan performs its miracle and soon he's awake and talking to us.


Of course he denies using anything illicit. When asked if he realizes he wasn't breathing, he insists that “I'm just really tired.”




“Medic 9, respond for the shortness of breath. . .”


We arrive to find a befuddled fire crew staring at our patient, who sits on the edge of her bed waving a CPAP mask. “It's not working,” she says. “I can't go to sleep; I'll DIE!” As paramedic and resident sleep apneic, I am the appointed expert.


I really don't know much about anyone's machine other than my own, so I deploy my best cable company troubleshooting skills: unplug, wait 30 seconds, plug in. The machine beeps once, blinks twice, and begins doing its thing.




“Medic 9, respond for the unresponsive male with CPR in progress. . .”


We arrive in a perfect storm of fire engines, ambulances, and police all converging on one dilapidated apartment building. No one is doing CPR, but it isn't necessary. This looks familiar: environment, pupils, track marks. The treatment becomes routine: BVM, Narcan. Shortly he's awake and claiming, “I was just really tired.”