I'm working a 5pm-1 am shift with Mike. The dispatcher sends us over to 125 Street and Broadway to standby at a fire. The NYFD would usually request an ambulance to stand by at a decent sized fire just in case one of the firemen got hurt. We pull up, park our vehicle close enough to get anyone out quickly but not to where we'd get stuck by some other emergency vehicle coming on to the scene. and we wait. The fire is in a row of stores. It's mostly an exterior attack, no firemen inside. And there we sit for two hours, drinking coffee, BS'ing with the cops (this was before the EMS-FDNY merger. The firemen really didn't want to bother with us. they kind of looked down on us. The feeling was definitely mutual).
It's now about two hour later. not a spark can be seen. Not a whiff of smoke in the air. some of the firetrucks have been packed up and are leaving. The rest are being readied. It's at this time that a cop comes running over to me, 'Hey, you guys listening to this?". The cop puts his radio up in volume and I hear:
"Central where are the damn buses for 127 and 7 ave? We got two people shot and they're both going out of the picture. We need an 85 forthwith , large crowd central". So he's got two people shot on the street, they both look as if they're dying and he's got a large, angry crowd around him"
"32 George", the dispatcher answers "EMS says no available units! In the 32, 32 George is calling an 85 forthwith for crowd control, units respond'
I look at Mike. He looks at me and we both look at the fire scene. most of the firemen are hanging around smoking cigarettes and bullshitting.
"Mike fuck this" I say hurriedly "let's get the fuck outta here"
"10-4" Mike responds. We jump into the ambulance. I grab the radio. "18 boy to central"
"18 Boy, go"
"Central, we've been released from the fire scene no injuries. put us going to 127 and 7 for two confirmed shot'
"18 Boy, you took the words right out of my mouth' answers the dispatcher.
Mike slams the bus into drive and we fly like lunatics, wrong side of the street, wrong way up one way streets at 60-70 mph. About three minutes later we arrive on the scene. there's got to be a crowd of at least 5000 people out there going nuts. We pull up and it starts "How come it took you so long motherfuckers, if this was Park Avenue downtown you would have been here 20 minutes ago" "Motherfuckers, they going to die because of you slow-assed motherfuckers' We make our way through the crowd. There lay two black males, both about twenty years old, both not breathing, both shot in the face. We rip open our trauma bags and start to ventilate both patients. To our relief I hear we hear that 16 Willie, a medic unit has just been freed from dropping a patient off at St. Luke's Hospital and is coming to back us up. So me and Mike keep ventilating the patients to the shouts of 'motherfucker", "if they die you die", etc.. 16 willie pulls up about 4 minutes later. They run over with long boards and stretchers. We package the patients for transport. Each ambulance gets a patient. since me and mike are both less trained Emergency Medical Technicians at the time, we drive as the medics treat the patient in each vehicle. My guy is ready first. So I take off to Harlem Hospital with the medic in the back with the patient.Mike is about two minutes behind me driving 16 Willie's ambulance.
It takes me only a few minutes to arrive at Harlem Hospital. I make a wide sweeping turn and begin to back up into the ambulance bay when my radio starts going off
"15 Patrol to central" 15 Patrol is the street boss for the tour
"Central to 15 Patrol'
"Central get me 5 BLS units to 125 Street and Broadway"
"10-4 15 Patrol"
"Motherfucker" I inadvertently yell and punch the steering wheel. Fucking firemen put out the fire. Now, looking for a day or two off they're swarming around the Patrol Supervisor with complaints like " Ah, yeah there guy. I pulled a hose and felt something pull in my back", "Ah, yeah I was taking down a door and part of it hit me in the elbow". Nothing serious but man am I fucked! I left the scene without being released by the fire chief.
I back the bus in, get the patient out and run him into the trauma room where the medical staff takes over. I run back outside to give mike a hand. I get outside just as he's pulling up. He opens his window as the vehicle is still moving and yells in a shaky voice, "Rocco! We in Boo Coo trouble! We in Boo Coo trouble!', as if i don't know myself. So I help him in with the patient. It takes us about 10 minutes to do our side of the paperwork. Just as I'm finishing I hear my unit being called on the radio
'18 Boy are you on the air?"
"18 Boy central'
"18 Boy, when your done 10-3 the dispatcher". They want me to call the dispatcher.
I dial the number. My hand feels like it weighs a hundred pounds.
"This is 18 Boy'
"Rock, what's up ? It's John" . John and i worked together on the streets a few times. Real nice guy.
"Hey John, what's up' I reply, knowing full well 'what's up'.
"Dude, call your old lady, she's at St. Luke's" he advises me. My "old lady' is my girlfriend at the time, Ann. She's also an Emergency Medical Technician and was on one of the units that responded to 15 Patrol's request for ambulances to the fire that I left at 125 Street and Broadway. So I call her.
"Hey, babes, what's up". She reply's "Don't worry about the fire. I transported the fire captain and told him what happened and he said not to sweat it'. "Your fucking kidding me " I almost yell as everyone looks towards me. 'Nah, don't sweat it. It's OK". Listen', I reply, "let me go tell Mike before he hangs himself in the bathroom". I look through the bay windows and see mike standing there biting his finger nail with with one hand and smoking with the other. I step outside. Mike looks at me nervously. I start to laugh. "Mike, chill. My old lady transported the captain and explained what happened. He said there was no problem". Mike looks at me dumbstruck for a moment, then start to smile and breaks out laughing. "you motherfucker, I need a fucking drink". "Me too, Mike" I reply laughing in relief. With ten minutes to go in the tour we were done for the night. Three hours and three six packs later and we were still laughing at our dumb luck.