Last night, I was called out to a reported "man down" call. It was 0400 and I was a bit tired, but I grouped myself together and got behind the wheel of the Ambulance. Upon arrival of the scene I found two Police Units and three cops standing over a woman sitting on her ass in front of a dilapidated house in one of our more impoverished neighborhoods...
I get an update from the patrolman while I am asking the woman if she is ok. The officer explains that when they arrived she was asleep on the porch of the house we are in front of. None of the residents knew her and was worried she was dead. She saw the cops and told them she was going to walk home, got up to leave the porch and tumbled down the stairs eventually falling onto her ass on the lawn. This woman was drunk beyond belief. Her vitals were fine overall, but her gait and awareness were below acceptable levels in my opinion.
We have this weird strategy that has become the norm in my city with PD and EMS. Not one I am in love with, but I have learned I pretty much have to deal with it. The PD often avoids dealing with 'drunk tank' prisoners, partially due to work load of actual criminals, partially due to avoidance of paperwork and general hassles. When they encounter a drunk who hasn't broken any other law besides Drunk In Public, and is not a threat to themselves or others, they call in EMS and we bring them to the Hospital. It's a general pain in the ass, but quite honestly I can also easily say trying to help someone who refuses to help themselves is a pain the ass anyway. Also, the time that call can take up, I might miss a violent call or a puker, so I shouldn't complain.
So this woman was extremely intoxicated, not a particularly pleasant drunk, and she was more than likely homeless due to her scent of urine, grime and alcohol. Quite honestly, considering her demeanor my partner and I as well as the cops were as nice to her as can be expected. She proceeded to insult my partner and I and then went on to call the cops pigs and liars. We gave her her options.. She is unable to ambulate herself due to intoxication so it was either, go to the ER for intervention or go to PDHQ for registration. We couldn't responsibly leave her to her own accord. She started getting more belligerent, and when we informed her that her two double-deuces of Natty Ice were not going with her to the ER or HQ, she decided it was time to start with threats and accusations of theft (pfft.. like I would stoop to drinking Natty Ice).
So the woman was insistent on going on her own, which was impossible and we let her know that, so she choose option B, the ER. We lead her to the ambulance and I take the roll of being at the top of the two steps in front of her, while one officer is at the rear of the Ambulance cab and the other assists my partner with helping her inside. She gets up one step and stops to turn around, demanding her Natty Ice. We explain that alcohol is not allowed in city vehicles (again) and she is not happy, she turns towards me to go up the second step. She starts yelling at me and then smacked her lips together, looking like she was prepping a gob to spit in my face. As I go to protect myself from the possible loogie she reacts in this totally human and forward way.
She flinches and says, "what, are you going to beat me up now?"
"No, miss, I do not beat up drunk women."
I don't want to let her know I envisioned the possibility of her spitting in my face, just letting on to that thought could offend her, but I really did think it possible. I've learned from experience.
That sits with me, and horrifies me. That this random woman thought I was prepping to hit her, because I was proactively protecting myself from what happens at times. I used experiences I've had to prepare myself for this experience. But then I envision the experiences this woman must have had to say out loud and mentally prepare for what she thought was going to happen...
Sad to say it, but it HAS to be an afterthought. I can respond kindly to her (and tried) but I also have to be open to change, and protective of myself. I can't let emotions effect me DURING a call.
But afterward, I am left with the thought that this vulnerable, drunk, (albeit unpleasant) woman thought I was going to hit her.