Dull Knives, Sea Cucumbers and Bleeding Scrotums

True tales from OCs ambulances


There was a guy who tried to commit suicide—this was someone else's call—and he cut his penis off with a dull knife. He had to hack and hack and hack it. It was one of those old steak knives. The guy was running around with the tip of his penis in his mouth. He took it out and started shouting, "LOOK AT ME! I'M A COCKSUCKER!" He then put it back in his mouth and started running around the room.


We get this call on a scrotum bleed, and dispatch makes a point of getting on the radio to say, "Remember to apply direct pressure."



I had the Poltergeist Lady. Y'know, she looked like the old lady from Poltergeist. You know, "Come into the light, Carol Anne!" She asked us to take her from Tustin down to South Coast Hospital, down in Laguna. On the way down, she told me how she was going to go to Hawaii, with Bob Hope, for some sort of anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor and how those "goddamn Japs and those fucking Nips are fucking up the whole thing and how they continue to ruin the United States and how they're trying to take over the world." She's telling me all this stuff about the Japanese and how much she hated them and how she hated the Chinese and the Koreans. Then she looks at me and says, "You look like an island boy. You native Hawaiians are just like us Native Americans. You were taken advantage of." I say, "I don't know what you're thinking of, ma'am, but my name's Tanaka. I'm Japanese."


The last shift I was on, this guy had fallen two and a half stories. We get on the scene, and I notice the medics aren't moving too quickly. They haven't even started an IV line—usually there's a bunch of things you've gotta do. We ask the medic, and he says, "Well. He fell into a dumpster." He fell two and a half stories into a dumpster. You can't even try to do that, and you usually hit something on the way down. He didn't hit anything. We ask, "What did he land on?" And the medic says, "He landed in all the cushy shit." That only happens in cartoons.


I didn't know my grandparents, so Leisure World's kind of been a godsend for me. A lot of these people, the reason they're so verbal is that they don't have a family that comes to see them. Their kids put 'em in Leisure World and pretty much abandon them. They think, "Wow! They've got shuffleboard!" There's this lady we used to run, called the Butterfly Lady. She'd take pieces of paper and fold them up into butterflies. She was on dialysis and one of our "frequent fliers." Her butterflies were all over Leisure World. I still remember her name and the same damn jokes she told all the time. I remember that it was important to me to be good to her because her family had kind of abandoned her. When she died it was just unreal. Every ambulance company in Orange County has frequent fliers. EMTs can spot their names off the list, know their address and the sounds they make. We have three or four, but my lady was the Butterfly Lady. She was bad-ass. She was blind, but she knew me [laughs]. It was easy. I was the big, fat, dark blob. She was always cold, so I always brought an extra blanket. As soon as she'd hear my voice, she'd light up and tell me the same friggin' jokes every time.

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