Nov 13, 2008

The fat lady sang

It seems that some Bill and Ted reject (with a long criminal history) tried to steal a stereo out of some Michoacán grandpa’s pickup truck. Gramps grabbed a tire iron and went out to protect his stereo and collection of mariachi CDs. The thief then made what we in SWAT call a “tactical error.” When confronted by El Patron, he decided to pull a rusty Buck knife from his pocket and shouts,
“I’m gonna cut you dude!”
Grandpa felt sort of threatened by this so he swung the tire iron at el stupido’s head like it was a birthday piñata.

When police arrived, they found the thief motionless on the ground in a pool of blood. They immediately began first aid; which for cops consists of shouting real loud,
Because he was Hispanic, and all the witnesses and cops were white, Grandpa believed that he would be arrested and taken to jail for whacking the guy with the tire iron. However, the cops (who had spoken to a couple of witnesses and recovered the knife) all lined up and shook the old guy’s hand; then left him to his Ford truck and Mexican polka music.

I get the call and met the thief at the hospital. Staff there tells me that they are running a bunch of tests to see if Mr. tire-iron-sticking-out-of-my-left-ear is a vegetable or not, I guess this includes the squirting of cold water in his (good) ear and waiting for a reaction. I always thought you were supposed to use warm water, and see if he wets the bed… but then again I’m no doctor. They discover that he is, in fact, brain dead (this time a medical diagnoses, not the evaluation from his 11th grade teacher). His family starts showing up and the hospital tells them that he is, alas, gone; there is no longer any brain activity. One aunt had a puzzled look, evidently she thought activity means that you can see it wiggle... someone on the staff from Alabama was probably called in to translate (apologies to those from the South, but I used to live there...).

I call the coroner and had him stand by to retrieve the body, which is kept on life support long enough for the family to say their last goodbyes. While the family is in the room, the nurse pulls the respirator tube off and shut off the heart monitor; which was making the incessant
“beep- beep- beep- beep”
sound. Now the nurse’s station (where I and the coroner were standing) also had a monitor, which kept beeping. The family filed out and we stood around looking at the monitor, waiting for the beeping to stop so that the hospital can officially call the time of death.

It took a good 10 minutes, as the guy’s system was so full of epinephrine. Finally the beeping ceased. The corner and his assistant pulled on latex gloves and went into the room to grab the body; as soon as they touched it, the heart started back up again,
“beep….. beep….. beep.”
The nurse called out to the coroner,
“Sorry, he’s not official (officially dead) yet.”
The corner’s crew comes back to the monitor and watches it a few minutes longer, until there is (again) no more beeping. They return back to the room, but when they touched him again,
“beep…. beep…. beep…. ”
I remarked,
“Hey, the heart’s still going!”
The coroner called out from the room to me,
“What did you say?”
Before I could answer, the nurse flipped off the station monitor shouted to the coroner,
“Oh, nothing.”
I was relieved to find that there is still some pragmatism in the health care field.


Remo said...

It would have be hilarious if you found out it was just the garbage truck in the alley, backing up. I've never trusted those nurses. They have too many pairs of rubber gloves.

Myra said...

OMG...hilarious! Not that the dude passed away, but how you weave the tale! So did Gramps get arrested? I used to have a police scanner (yeah, you guys probably hate us!),and while the calls were so interesting (once it was my next door neighbor beating his wife!), I never knew the outcome. My ex got the scanner in the divorce :)

cw2smom said...

Gramps certainly did society a favor and I bet his actions will have a ripple effect in the 'hood, affecting the crime statistics in his little neck of the woods for sometime. He's my new hero. I'd recommend we just give him a free get outta ICE detention card...just in case! We can use more folks like that! ;)

I love your stories!

Nate Bob said...

Hey Detective Dave! Loved the story. I always like taking with the police when working in the ED. It keeps our days exceptionally interesting.