Sunday, February 24, 2013

Two Broken Arms and a Surprise

Steve and I are working the evening shift when the dispatcher calls our unit:

"Manhattan to 18 Young"

I pick up the microphone " 18 Young , central'

"18 Young I have no basic units available could you pick up the injury at 141st and 7th avenue"

'18 Young , that's a 4 we're on the way" I answer

About 3 minutes later we pull up at a 5 story building. Our job, of course is on the 5th floor. No elevator. We arrive at the apartment to find the door half opened.

"EMS" I call out "did someone call an ambulance?".

"Yes', a weak female voice answers back "I called"

Steve and I walk into the apartment to find a woman, about 40 years old seated on a sofa. surrounding her are 4 small children. The room was dark with only a faint light bulb providing a bit of light but right away I could see what her problem was. Both her wrists were grossly broken, both turned at terrible angles in relation to her forearms.

"Mam, my name is Rocco . I'm a paramedic. What happened?".

She answers back "My husband beat me with a broom stick. He hurt my arms" she states in a voice I initially took for an unnatural calmness. Turned out to be pain accompanied by fear.

 "Your husband was taken away by the police?" , I ask not expecting her answer

"No he's in the bedroom with his kid watching television"

So Steve and I initiate treatment including making sure that blood flow was not interupted to her hands. We then proceed to spllint her arms. Steve is finishing up when I walk over to the bedroom. I knock on the door.

"Yeah" comes and answer sounding annoyed and bored at the same time

"Sir, we are going to have to transport your wife to the hospital. would you be able to watch the children?".

"No", he answers abruptly "I'm only watching my kid". On his chest is cradled an infant fast asleep. I want to grab the nearest blunt object I could find and cold-cock the bastard but didn't want to make a bad situation worse so I retreat from the bathroom. Me and Steve than make sure all the children are dressed warmly before our descent back down the 5 flights of stairs and into the ambulance. Once inside the ambulance I pick up my my radio and ask the dispatcher to have a unit from the 32 precinct to respond to our location for an assault. We wait a few minutes then observe a police unit come screeching around the corner coming within inches of our bumper. I was a bit surprised how quickly they responded . I didn't indicate to the dispatcher that it was an emergency. Before the police car even come to a stop one of the cops jumps out from the passenger side. He's about 5 foot 5 inches , stocky with a bad toupee. He runs up to the ambulance rips open the back door. What he says next shocked me so I can still hear his voice almost 20 years later.

"What the f--k is wrong with you" he screams at the woman, " didn't I tell you that if I arrested him for breaking your arms i would have to arrest you for scratching his face, now go to the f--cking hospital". He then proceeds to slam the door closed so hard the whole vehicle shook. That's when I realized what happened. This little prick had responded to the apartment before, had better things to do than make an arrest and spend time getting in touch with Child Welfare authorities. Seeing that the man had a small scratch on his face he told the woman that if he had to arrest one he had to arrest them both and that her kids would then be taken to foster care. The woman, frightened enough declined to have charges brought against the husband. The cop then went downstairs and told his dispatcher that it was only a dispute. Our calling back made him look bad which enraged the crap out of him.
Now us medics and the cops we worked with had a rule. We back up each other, we look out for each other and we never, ever rat on each other.  We get to the hospital and proceed over to the triage nurse. We give her the story of what happened. She asks our patient "So honey, you called the police and had him arrested, right?". The patient looks at me, I look at Steve. It's just then one of the kids , no more than 5 years old pipes up "the cop yelled at my mother and said he was going to arrest her then he left and step-dad went back to sleep" . The nurse then looked at me and Steve. We just shrugged and looked away embarrassingly. That's all she needed. She called the hospital administrator. After hearing from the nurse she looked angrier than the cop! We than had the nurse sign our ambulance call report and walked over to our station which was about half a block away. We were standing outside BS'ing with some of the other units when we saw 3 police cars pull up to the emergency room. One was occupied by the precinct commander, the next by the sargent and lastly the police car that responded to our call a short while earlier. Slowly out came both officers including the SOB that yelled at the broken up woman. Funny, he looked like he had lost a bit of the spring he had in his step and a bit shorter than the 5 foot 5inches he looked before. Steve and I looked at each other without expression, got back in our ambulance and headed back out into the night.