Standby for Tones Blog
The first thing I register is the officer’s words as he gives report to my partner. “…hasn’t taken meds in six months…hasn’t been out of the apartment in six months…hasn’t eaten in three weeks…” The officer continues to fill in the blanks, that she lives with a roommate but that he is bipolar and hadn’t thought these things were concerning. The report complete, my partner and I enter the residence.
The second thing I register is the haze. I’m no stranger to odors but as we walk into the apartment, my lungs physically rebel at roughly the one minute mark. The apartment is literally foggy with acrid, dense cigarette smoke. I follow my partner’s grey shirt in front of me, sizing up our surroundings as we advance. I register a synthetic “feather” duster on the stove, between the electric burner and a frying pan, but the light indicating a hot stovetop isn’t lit. The duster isn’t smoldering, and so I continue towards the back bedroom, entering just after my partner. I’m already coughing, thanks to the lung issues I’ve been slowly coming to terms with. Last December my primary care provider tells me my seventeen years of smoking have had some impact on me even now, six years after smoking cessation. Each room we’ve passed now, in this apartment, has had at least one overflowing ashtray and my lungs are registering the effects.
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"Standby for Tones" is a blog written by Crystal Wallin, a La Crosse paramedic. Her stories, written from real life events, bring to light the human experience in having an EMS career and work life. >> Click to read more on Crystal's blog page.