Because we frequently mixed crew members, it wasn’t assured that when we got into the barn, went in the equipment room, and looked at the assignment board,‑we would necessarily be with our usual partner. Almost all of the night street people were great.‑I think one of the reasons that we had such a high success rate on saves and such a compatible team is that we were so poorly regulated. That might make some raise their eyebrows, but being too closely regulated dampens ingenuity and valor. Our service was only three years old when I signed on, and it was readily apparent that it was a loose group of extremely competent, unmonitored, independent medical people. We would cruise the districts at will, seldom minding our own business. We tried to keep Tick advised, but all in all, we were a tight-mouthed vagabond group. We took care of our own problems, never using the incident reports that we were advised to use for any untoward actions of errant crew members. I would bet the stack of empty incident report papers were just as high on the desk when I left as when I entered, five years earlier.‑Nobody reported anything. However, that meant that we had to reign in our own crew members under some circumstances. We had our own unwritten standards of practice, and our own unwritten expectations of each other.‑We had one night shift EMT whom we avoided as much as Deafendum.‑His name was Ray, a short black guy who was always a bundle of nerves. Needless to say, the very fact that he was a nervous, distrustful sort only encouraged everyone else to be jokingly relentless. It wasn’t that he was just odd, as oddities were accepted; he was timid and scared of his own shadow.‑He lacked the backbone that was needed to work the streets at night in Louisville.‑He kept his radio affixed to his collar in such a way that he didn’t need to use his hands if, in the event he was “attacked.” He was always prepared to call for help.‑After he called the third 10-30, which is an alarm call that brings LPD to the scene, code 3, everyone avoided him. He was an embarrassment. We were a proud, self-sufficient group of street people. A 10-30 to Ray could be anything that scared him, and he was scared of everything. And so, he was dubbed, “Mayday Ray.”‑It was a less than flattering nickname, probably worse than Sistermarysaveacherry. Even after he acquired the nickname, ol’ “Mayday Ray” just couldn’t help calling in a 10-30 at the drop of a hat. It was pointed out to him by both LPD and EMS crews, that calling a 10-30 if your life was not in danger, would be like the story of, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” (If you had my mother you would remember this story well.) It also made people avoid riding out with him for fear of not being taken seriously in the event we actually did need LPD on a code 3 backup.
Thus my story: I was unfortunately paired with Mayday when I went into the barn that Saturday night. I rolled my eyes when I saw the board, but didn’t complain. People just didn’t complain. But I was uncomfortable and, for one thing, I knew I would have to watch my mouth. I’m sure you will all understand that at that time, political correctness had not reared its moronic head. At the beginning of the shift, after we had loaded up, I said, “Mayday, you call LPD when you are with me when they aren’t needed, you’re dead meat.”‑He stammered and shuffled, and said he wouldn’t call a 10-30, again.‑So we ventured out into the night. We picked up a run about the middle of the night, which was dispatched as a 10-47, possible 10-69. Well, we made drunk runs all the time.‑A night probably never went by that we didn’t encounter drunks. The 10-69, an overdose, could be anything, but nothing felt alarming to me. We approached the door and I knocked with my flashlight, which doubled as a Billy Club. All street people, particularly cops, would be familiar with the K-light. It was the only protection, other than our radios, that we carried. Anyway, on with the story…we entered and there was indeed an enraged drunk staggering about, and a woman screaming in the background. As I walked towards the woman to make a determination as to whether she was injured or not, this drunk charged at me with a knife. It took me by surprise, that I wasn’t prepared, but that’s what your partner is for. Watch each other’s backs…always.‑ Well, ol’ Mayday was just standing there with his mouth open, and moving not a lick. I ducked under the first slash, and rammed the drunk in the stomach with my head. I yelled at Mayday to get the knife. Still no help from Mayday. I kicked the drunk in his knee with one of my leather “lace up to the knee” boots and he fell hard. He was so drunk that he was not that difficult an opponent. I then stomped his wrist and the knife fell out of his hand. I went and picked up the knife and said to Mayday…”Mayday, do you think maybe this was a 10-30?”‑He just looked dumb and scared. I called Tick to radio for LPD and they came on a 3, took a report, and hauled the drunk to jail.
I decided to file a claim against the drunk. So, the next day I went down to the courthouse to file a complaint due to his endangering my life. I thought that I should be able to charge him with attempted murder. I was hot. So, we, (Mayday and I) got in the courthouse and sat down with some official. He was so nonchalant and indifferent that I was taken aback.‑I didn’t have a lot of experience with the legal system.‑I’ll never forget his first words spoken in complete boredom… “Well, what do you want to do?”‑ I said….”. What is it that YOU are going to do??”‑ He shrugged and said…”well, you can tie up the courts with this, if you want, but this poor black unfortunate drug and alcohol abuser has had many problems and really needs only a treatment center for 30 days. Of course, you would have to agree to this.”‑Mayday spoke right up and said, “That’s exactly what we want. He just needs treatment.”‑I was dumbfounded. I looked at Mayday, and the “Official” who made the suggestion, called them both dickheads, and walked out.‑It became readily apparent to me, at that time, that the court system is not there for the victims of crime, but for the proponents. I was wishing my dad could have been alive so I could tell him the sorry state of affairs. He was a Waynedale Fireman. He always taught us about justness and fairness. This incident was a rude awakening of our court system, and an education I never forgot. Even to this day.‑I would never walk into a courtroom expecting anything but indifference and callousness.
I never rode out with Mayday again. He was an unworthy partner, unable to think for himself, unable to think on his feet, unable to react quickly, unable to protect his partner, and not fit for the streets of Louisville. He transferred to day shift shortly after the incident of my being almost stabbed. There was no shortage of the usual equipment-room discussion, banter, and opinions after the incident. He may as well have had a brand on his forehead.‑I do not know what ever became of him. Perhaps he became a nun.
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