“Silly American!” I thought as I ran towards my bike. My screen read;
“Allergic reaction – 20 Year old male – conference call with 100/Police”
“Conference call?!” you ask.
“Why should EMS call Police?” you wonder.
Answer = Silly American.
Ladies and Gentleman of the United States, United Kingdom and the Philippines.
The number for the ambulance service in Israel is 101.
Not 718 230 1000 (Yes – that too has happened before.)
Not 100. Not 102. Not 112. Not 911. Not 999. Not 000 (thumbs up easygoing Australians).
Fun Fact: Did you know that the emergency number in the Republic of Djibouti is 351351. The absolute paradigm of simplicity, I couldn''t have come up with an easier number myself.
Our dear patient, bless him, had called the police complaining of an allergic reaction to an unknown substance. The police confirmed that the substance wasn''t white and powder-like, and then moved onto the next step in their crisis algorithm – call EMS.
They now have our number written on yellow-stickies all over the office, ever since that uncomfortable incident when they mistakenly called environmental protection – long story.
Eventually, the conference call was put into motion:
POLICE: Hello, is this EMS?
AMERICAN: No, it’s still me!
EMS: Yes, we are here as well.
POLICE: Go ahead please Sir...
EMS: I am not a Sir, I''m a madam!
POLICE: No, no, the American.
AMERICAN: Guys, stop fooling around, I can''t breathe!
EMS: Where are you?
AMERICAN: At home.
EMS: Where do you live?
POLICE: He is from America.
AMERICAN: I''m in Hebrew U.
EMS: What happened?
POLICE: He took a substance that was not white and powder-like.
EMS: Please let the American answer!
AMERICAN: I am having an allergic reaction!
EMS: Do you want an ambulance?
POLICE: I don''t think so; he called us.
AMERICAN: I need help, I can’t move my lips, they''re stuck!
POLICE: Stuck! Let me get FIRE on the line...
FIRE: Wassup boys?
AMERICAN: Help !!!
I was eventually dispatched and ran towards my bike.
I try to start it – the engine stutters.
I try again, this time whispering Psalms. The engine roars (meekly) to life.
I love my bike and my bike loves me, but we are reaching the end now. We have already been through one engine transplant, and recently there have been some recurring health issues.
It’s been an amazing journey; the highs, the lows, and everything in the middle. I refer of course to the steep inclines and valleys of Jerusalem, which are quite frankly partly to blame for the relatively short life span of my bike. That, and the incessant accelerating and braking which is typical of this line of work.
My very kind Boss at United has offered countless times to give me a new updated model, but I refuse. I would like to continue riding it, "until death do us part." Besides, the new model is larger, heavier and faster – qualities that I simply don''t need.
I weave in and out of midday traffic and finally reach my secret shortcut to this address.
Not so secret; there’s another ambucycle right on my tail. He knows, that I know, that he knows the secret path. I think I see him smirking under the visor; not for long though. Lo and behold, the opening of the path is 80cm wide. My wingspan (yes, I pretend to be a plane) is 87, but if I retract my mirrors, I am a very slim 77cm – exactly trim enough to make it through. The freshly frowning guy behind me has a new fancy shmancy model and doesn’t fit, no matter what he tries. I land at the location, glance over my starboard wing and notice him taking the long ring road.
Old School - ONE
Hot Shot - NIL
I take my equipment, speed up the steps, and make one of the most embarrassing mistakes of my career. I open the door, see the patient’s face, and shout “WOW!”
His lips were just that big – swollen to fivefold their regular size, because of the reaction.
“Whaaths whong?” he thays, “Whhy you thouwting?”
I apologize, ask him a bunch of questions, take his vitals; and this is what I gleaned.
He is not allergic to anything.
He doesn''t know what he ate (In his words – the school lunch has no humanoid name.)
He was sleeping and felt his lips exploding, but no other signs of a reaction on his person.
His vitals are Pulse:85 - BP:135/70 - O2 Sats 97%
All within normal ranges.
But his tongue is starting to swell, and that is no good. I put on an oxygen mask and open to 10lpm. I rummage in my bag for IV equipment to start a line, but then glance back at him and notice something odd. His lips are now more like a beak; yes a beak, as in a bird, and the mask is dangling a centimetre away from his face.
"What''s that you ask?" - "Did I take a picture and whatsapp to the masses?"
No, I certainly did not. I never ever ever do that.
Old School - TWO Hot Shot - NIL
The Natan arrives and listens attentively (yeah right) to my hand-over. The signs and symptoms are a bit conflicting here. On the one hand, he has a clear reaction + swelling (bad), but his BP isn''t dropping (good). The paramedics decide to open a vein and then transport on Urgent to the ER.
The second they left, the diagnosis popped into my head. He had probably gotten a bite from a spider or another creepy crawly. This explained the very local swelling, and normal vitals.
Old School - THREE Hot Shot - NIL
I drop by two days later to see how he is doing. His lips are now down to double normal, and he actually kinda likes the new look.
The ER did some tests, gave him tons of anti-histamine type meds, and sent him back home.
POLICE: Home to AMERICA, you mean.
EMS: Shut up!
FIRE: Do you still need us, or can we go back to sleep?