Of all the runs we all went on, shootings were the most popular. That might seem odd to those of you sitting in an easy chair reading this, but we weren’t at EMS for the pabulum feedings. We were there for the outrageous, the dangerous, and the exciting. As I have mentioned before, a shooting would bring out units competing for the run. Tick would have several units radioing in claiming they were closer to the run. It was called, “jumping someone else’s run.” Tick was not one to be tricked, and he had an uncanny way of keeping his fingers on the pulses of the street people. At any given time, he would know where each of us was, within a block or two. It was always a laughing matter when a 10-39 went out, because the competition for the run was predicable.
One summer we had at least one shooting every night. The heat of the summer brought people out in droves, and with that came drinking. The more drunk the crowd got, the more argumentative they got, and the next thing you knew they were shooting at each other. In fact, it was so predictable that outlying units would move in closer toward the west-end, to better increase their chance of making a shooting or two. White Owl Liquors was notorious. A whole herd would congregate at White Owl Liquors, and get all boozed up. Then they would stand around in the crowded parking lot until well over a hundred people had assembled. It was a mass of humanity all yelling and cursing, and ultimately, fighting and shooting. Well, sure enough, on a hot summers night, a 10-39 went out for White Owl Liquors. We whooped, reached under the dash, toggled the siren into action, and engaged the overhead lights.
The night was starting out on a good note. There was not a person at EMS who did not love shootings. Strange as it may seem to those not indoctrinated to the streets, we weren’t out there to play mumbly-peg.‑We wanted the most challenging, exciting runs the night could offer, and a hot summer night would not disappoint. On this particular night Mick and I were partnered up. White Owl Liquors was a notorious “shooting spot” and we‑raced code 3 for the action, heading for the mob gathered there. LPD was also dispatched as a matter of course. As we were wading though the crowd, trying to find the victim, we were being harassed by a bunch of the drunks.‑ I was very good at fending them off with dirty looks and boldness in uniform and present radio that kept them at bay for the most part. Once we found the bloody victim we were being taunted and challenged by a smart ass that was about as big as a horse. I smarted off to him and told him to stand back. Mick suddenly said, “Do you have the keys to the jump kit?” Well, needless to say, there are no keys to the jump kits, and it was a preplanned warning amongst all the EMS people that when that was said, we were in grave danger, and that there was a weapon being readied against us. I moderated my tone immediately, and looked to Horse and asked him a question, which ended in “sir.” Had the situation not been so dire, Mick would have burst out laughing. There were no “sirs” in that crowd.
Syrup was on my tongue. Horse did a double take, and only then did I see the glint of the knife that he was holding up his wrist and to the back of his arm. It was a sizable knife, which I ignored. I asked him it he could assist me in removing the patient, and confused, he hesitantly agreed. Mick and I allowed him to go to the ambulance to bring the stretcher, which would never be‑done. But giving him a chore to do, something that made him feel important was the only thing I could think of. We certainly couldn’t disarm him, and we wanted to save our own skins. Well, Horse had a time with the stretcher, as he didn’t know where the release levers were, which delayed his return. Being dead drunk didn’t help any. But he managed to get the stretcher to us with it rolling low along on the ground. LPD was notified of the weapon on him, which gave them a “heads up” to get over to us ASAP.‑As soon as Horse was out of sight, we breathed easy again. The victim was screaming and yelling and swearing so he was alive and would live to fight another day.
It is always good to have a plan that can be immediately put into action when danger occurs. Having a knife in my back was not the way I wanted to end my evening. I can get pretty smart-mouthed with the ignorant thugs we run in to. At any rate, we hauled off the wounded reprobate and got him to University with an IV of Ringers lactate flowing in each arm.‑It is supposed that he lived, though I never checked to see.
Life on the streets are the best of any life I could have ordered for myself. Sometimes when I find myself standing to one side of a door, or watch a person’s hand, or seat myself in a restaurant so that my back is to the wall and my face to the door, I am reminded of how much “street” is still in me. Some of us are lucky to have a job that remains in our memories as the time of our lives. For me, it was the streets…the ugly, dangerous, beautiful streets of Louisville on the night shift, when all that is normal was transformed into lights, sirens, darkness, uncertainty and turmoil. I am grateful to have had the chance to have lived a portion of my life in that arena. It was the best job of my life.
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