Maybe that acting class was useful after all

Tones drop.

EMS respond on a mid 20’s male having an asthma attack. Patient does not have their inhaler.
First though: This could be lejit.
Second though: But probably not.
Off to the scene we scream in the gutless wonder. When we arrive on scene I talk to the officer who is already there.
“Um…so when I reported asthma… I meant asthma.”
I glance at the patient. There is no apparent distress. He appears to be “status dramaticus.” In other words, there is no medical problem, but instead this is mostly likely anxiety related. That’s fine – we all have stressors. Sometimes people just need to be talked down. That’s a legitimate intervention.
“Got it…asthma with a lowercase ‘a’ “
“You got it”
Because this is a simple call with no real life threats, I will let the probie I’m with take patient care. His interaction with the patient goes something like this.
“Hi, I’m probie with the band-aid brigade, what’s going on today?”
Cold Stare
“Hey are you doing okay?”
Cold Stare
I reach for the pulseox. This was dispatched and coded for difficulty breathing, so I should document that he was, in fact, “fine.” I’m within an inch of the patient’s finger when he erupts with a guttural scream not heard outside the deepest pits of hell until this very moment.


I whip off my glove, put the pulseox on myself, and hold it directly in front of his face. “It goes like this. It won’t hurt you. Just take a deep breath.”

With a pout the patient thrusts me an index finger. I get a quick reading and pull it off just as he starts screaming again.

Probie gives me the deer-in-the-headlights look. I step in. Here is the abridged version of the dialogue:
“Hey, I’m NerdAlert. I know you’re not happy we’re here, but someone’s called 911 so we need to make sure you’re okay.”
“Right. We need to make sure you’re fine.”
By now I have been on-scene for several minutes and have not gotten very far. I sit for a moment, pondering where to go next, absorbing some more verbal abuse, when I remember something from an acting class I was forced to take for my major. In a situation like this, where a scene has grown stagnant, it is often appropriate to change “tactics” – or in other words try to get what you want in a different way.
“Well you know what? You dont’t want me here and I don’t want to be here. So the sooner you let me do my job the sooner you can leave. Alright?”
“GOOD! Now let my partner take your blood pressure.”
“Fine people let us take their blood pressure. Now roll up your sleeve!
Patient complies with appropriate dramatic flair.
The officer, standing behind the patient this entire time, gives me a big thumbs up.
Sometimes you just have to switch tactics.
Mat Goebel
Research Fellow

My research interests include EMS, EKG, STEMI, cybersecurity, data viz, ML, and NLP.