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Shit Magnet


I strive to keep “potty keyboard” to a minimum here because some people focus on the words and miss the message. My friends know I’m rarely at a loss for words, but in this case I couldn’t think of a better, cleaner phrase. Please pardon my lapse and read on.

We all know them and we all work with them from time to time. EMTs or medics around whom things just happen. Weird stuff, once in a career stuff, but to them it’s more like once a week or heaven forfend, once a shift.

I worked with such a creature several years back. I had been banished to the deep dark night shift by some manager I had angered. Out of sight out of mind was the prescription, he apparently having never heard Vito Corleone’s admonishment regarding enemies and proximity. While I whiled away shifts contemplating whether they were seriously planning an involuntary exit strategy for me, I was approached by the night shift manager. He knew of my plight and perhaps hoping to rehabilitate my image he told me he was assigning me to work with two relatively new guys. Seems that they were heading down the wrong path and the supervisor wanted “an experience guy I can depend on to keep them out of trouble” to work with them and keep them on the straight and narrow. Irony, thy name is management.

So, I packed my gear and headed out to the station where my career had started years before. Irony had to put on extra shifts to keep up with the karmic demand that week.

Both of my new partners were good eggs and more importantly, both were pretty good EMTs. We settled in to the normal routine of night shift calls without much adjustment on anyone’s part.

One partner in particular seemed to attract “those” type of calls. One night we were sent to meet the police for a psyche patient in the back yard of a residence several blocks from our station. We arrived on the scene to find that the incident had started out as a police pursuit of a drunk driver who stopped her car in front of a random address, ran up the porch stairs, into the house, up three flights of stairs, through the top floor apartment, and out onto the back porch. Then she jumped over the railing and landed on a pile of scrap iron in the back yard. So, instead of a psyche patient, we had a trauma patient. Surprise! Talk about shifting mental gears. My brain stripped two or three on that call.

That’s just the sort of thing that happened to this kid.

In our system we average about one fatal motor vehicle accident a year per EMT or medic. That’s a rough number, but it’s pretty close. During the six weeks I worked with this kid, I did three. That’s three dead right there, toss a sheet over them,traffic accidents. That’s bad enough, but to make it worse all three of them were people who were trapped in burning vehicles. In all the years before and after my time working with him, I’ve done a grand total of ONE accident like that.

When he works we can expect burning buildings, bus loads of hemophiliacs crashing into glass service trucks, boats capsizing, people being attacked by Gorillas that escaped from the zoo, and stuff Irwin Allen couldn’t imagine.

Just don’t expect to get any rest.

I’ll bet your service has a guy just like him.

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After a long career as a field EMS provider, I'm now doing all that back office stuff I used to laugh at. Life is full of ironies, isn't it? I still live in the Northeast corner of the United States, although I hope to change that to another part of the country more in tune with my values and beliefs. I still write about EMS, but I'm adding more and more non EMS subject matter. Thanks for visiting.


  1. Rogue trains? I don’t do trains. :-)Everybody has them. At times I have been the Dr. Death of the company myself. Occasionally, I rehabilitate myself.

  2. At the last service I worked at I was the black cloud. When I worked Tornadoes dropped down on us, massive 100 year floods, and the only intubation done by a basic that year at my service. For a little private transfer service, I was *the* black cloud.Not so much anymore, but for a year, I had quite the reputation.

  3. When I went back to the fire service after a 14 year stint in rescue/ems I came with my own fecal matter cloud. Since January my little VFD has ran 9 working house fires two of which were fatal. Thankfully my cloud has quitely moved away….oh I do so hope I haven’t angered the call god.

  4. Thats me thats me! Well and 2 other female medics in my department. When the 3 of us are on the schedule together we all know a plane will crash into the high school and a riot will break out in the ‘hood. We’re on tonite, we’ll see how it goes. I think around here it’s a chick thing.

  5. Hey, I used to be a shit magnet early in my career. Some of it was my fault, I admit. I used to medic as part of a 10,000 person 2-week campout near Pittsburgh. Once, when we were hiding from a bad thunderstorm in a GP Medium, during a break in the weather I stuck my head out of the tent, and shouted “You call this a storm??!!” to the sky.No shit, 5 seconds later the tallest tree on the edge of the field was struck by lightning.I learned not to tease the ghods. B-)=

  6. Years ago, I worked with a guy like that too. Great medic (retired on disability…back…about 5 years ago). Funny guy. In school we were told that true bowel eviscerations were almost a once-in-a-career thing. We had 12…1 each week, for a summer. We had so many that we’d judge it carefully…omentum only didn’t count. One call…we had 2 at once (the ambulatory one had been dressed like a deer, but I digress).Nursing home fires, high-rise things, etc…all with the B-guy.Kept the work interesting though…

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