Posts Tagged ‘paramedic work’

Night Shift (part three)

July 12, 2010

Spring 2008     San Francisco

Well this is about it, folks – I am out of stories for now.   I have taken up a clean, comfortable  and strangely predictable existence back here in the First World, and that does not often lead to colorful accounts of nasty behaviors dredged up from the cultural slums.  I expect to be short of material for these odd pages until I blow a fuse and decide to relocate once more to a filthy primitive sandbox of a country, or go fall off tugboats in the Bay again or even start riding public transit every day.   Sorry about this!

Well, there might be one more tale next month.  Meantime, here are the last of the San Francisco paramedic stories:



Night Shift (part two)

February 3, 2010

San Francisco     Fall 2007

I am not working as a paramedic these days, just moved into a related line of work that will not yield any of the stories or photos usually flung upon these pages.  Ah, well.  Almost went to Haiti for a month of earthquake relief work – that would have been a trove of disaster stories, but the new work schedule prevented that.  Here is a second batch of memorable cases taken from working the night shift in the city.

One night we were assigned to pick up a “5150” patient, code for a person under 72-hour psychiatric hold due to the possibility of harming himself or others. (more…)

“Get Your Gear on.”

September 1, 2009

April 2009      Kabul, Afghanistan

It took awhile to edit this one, written originally while I was riding the edge of insanity, near the end of a one-year stretch in the ‘Stan.  I did not change the tone of it, just filled in a little of the background.  It is not a short story, but it is probably my last on this topic.  I was not free to post it on these pages at the time due to the discomfort it might cause back home.  Here you go:

“Get your Gear on.”

That was an optimistic order  – I have little of what this unrehearsed mission called for:  a reliable rifle, enough body armor, a helmet, pistol, six magazines of ammunition, hand grenades, a radio, a harness to carry it all, and a personal medical kit strapped to the leg – I had none of that.  (more…)

Return to Civilization

July 4, 2009

July 4th, 2009    USA

Back in the US for a few weeks already, rocking the free world and not missing a single thing about Afghanistan.  I will not be going back there anytime soon, so the entertaining accounts of American subcultures resume next month.   Sorry, no more first-hand accounts of that charming Afghan culture, but I took advantage of having a high-speed internet connection again, and uploaded three short videos that I put together over the last year there.  My video camera skills are primitive, but I was able to edit them and attach some pretty good photos at the end of each video. (more…)

Bail Out

June 2, 2009

June 2009     Kabul, Afghanistan

Today marks exactly a year in Not-worth-it-stan, and that is plenty. I will be wheels up and out of here in less than 36 hours, probably never to return. As bad as this place is, working for a floundering startup is what has finally worn me down, but I will skip the boring business details. (more…)

May I Ask Who is Calling?

May 23, 2009


May 2009     Qalat, Afghanistan

Last week we sized up a new contract with a security company by accompanying them for a little night work. The mission involved a convoy of 40 tractor-trailers, carrying shipping containers, new armored vehicles, and loaded fuel tankers on an overnight run to Kandahar and back. Convoys on this route get hit every night with rockets, roadside bombs and machine guns, sometimes in well-organized ambushes. Few of their vehicles are armored, and most have a few holes in them. The military is still stretched too thin to offer air or medical support, so the security companies are on their own to fight through and deliver these high-value targets every time. It is a hugely lucrative contact, but it comes at a steady cost. (more…)

Multiple Choice

May 2, 2009


May 2009     Afghanistan

The path to the truth is not a straight line in Afghanistan, whether asking directions,  learning tribal customs, or just trying to gather patient history.  Today I asked one question, got five different answers, and came to an ugly conclusion.  (Names changed, as usual.) (more…)


April 10, 2009


April 2009    Northern Afghanistan

Spring Break college-style is somewhere in the blurry past, but I am pretty sure it did not include abstinence from alcohol and other pursuits, or 8 days and 800 miles in an unmarked microvan with two bearded Muslim men.  But parts of this country are amazing once out of the bigger cities, and what an epic trip it has been.   I even logged some miles hitch-hiking the country roads. (more…)