Sunday, May 5, 2013

A Playgirl Spread, A Hostage Situation And The Joke's On Me

"19 Adam on the air" asks the dispatcher
:19Adam', answers The Fox
"Take it over to 155 and Bway for the possible hostage situation"
"10-4" answers 19 adam
I'm working 18 boy with Trib. !9Adam's sector borders on mine so we decide to got ever and take a look at what's going on. 19 Adam's bus is parked just off on 155 street with the ambulance's ass end in the cross walk on Broadway. We pull up and get out out.
The fox is working with his regular partner Webb. We walk over to the front of the ambulance.
'Hey Foxx-, what's going on?
"Bullshit hostage situation. They're not even sure if there's anyone in the apartment. They just got a call about it, nothing else"
Sounds like just a waste of time. It's about  8pm on a Spring night so of course there's a stadium-sized crowd hanging around waiting for the shooting to begin. Me and Trib get back in the bus. As we drive away one of us comes up with an idea. Trib gets out at a magazine store and picks up a copy of PlayGirl magazine. We rip the pictures out and sneak up on 19 Adam. We unwittingly catch the attention of some of the people in the crowd. We put our fingers to our lips asking them not to let on to what we're doing. We the proceed to tape all the nude male photos contained in the magazine to the back doors of their ambulance, quietly laughing our asses of. We drive off still laughing. About half an hour later a low voice comes over the radio "Nice Rocco, real nice". again me and Trib break up in hysterics. Just then Trib asks me to drive over to his mother's house on Fort Washington Avenue. She always cooked a meal for us about the same time. We pull up, get out and walk the 4 floors to a feast fit for a king. Thankfully we didn't get a call the entire 15-20 minutes we spent eating. Thanking his mom, we descend back down to the street, get in the vehicle and drive off. At Fort Wash and Bway I make a right and proceed south on the three lane street. It's not more than a block when we start to notice that every car that passes us has its horn blaring and the occupants hysterical laughing. At about 145 Street and Bway we come to a light. A cab pulls up beside me honking his horn. I open my window and ask 'what's up?", The driver laughing hysterically points behind him and says "yo man, look at the back of your ambulance". I pull to the curb and we both jump out and walk to the back of the ambulance. Hung to the back of our  ambulance is a piece of cardboard big enough to cover it entirely. It contains a message written in large letters using yellow spray paint, "GAY PARAMEDICS! HONK FOR YOUR SUPPORT!". At first me and Trib are stunned. A moment later we're both laughing so hysterically we can't stand up straight. We remove the sign and get back into the front of the ambulance. I pick up the microphone and whisper "Nice Foxx, ya got me". No answer except for another unit pressing their microphone's button with the sounds of hysterical laughter in the backround.

First Tour at Station 18

June 15, 1987
Here I am. 23 year old white kid from The Bronx standing  at roll call in a place called Harlem, a place for me as foreign for me as as can be. For a white kid young as I was the misconceptions were boundless. My knees shook, I perspired freely, a true as heel deer-in-the -headlights as you'll ever find.
Lt.Martin starts roll call, welcomes me and three other "provisionals" to the station and then starts to give out our assignments. Mine was to ride on 17Charlie with S---. S was about 6 feet tale, sure of himself, loud as a son of a bitch. I overheard him relate to himself as a 'traumatologist and I don't need to be working with no fucking rookie". Hearing that my knees started to shake so bad you'd think you were listening to Kieth Moon performing a solo for the who the way they were knocking together. I pick up my equipment and follow S-- to the bus. I put my equipment in the side and proceed to check the bus for equipment. S-- calls out loudly from the front seat:
" Yo rookie, what the fuck yo doing back there"
"Um, um, I'm checking out the bus"
S-- yells back " Yo rookie, this is my fucking bus, you think I don't know what's on it?
Not feeling the slightest inclination to argue I drop whatever it is I'm doing, stumble out the side door and, like a lamb entering a lion's cage, I plant my ass gingerly in the passenger seat.
S-- turns and looks at me. He's got these thick rimmed glasses like, I'm not sure if it was Run or DMC used to wear:
"Ok, listen motherfucker. These are the rules. I drive, I talk on the radio, I do what the fuck I want. All you got to do is take care of the patient. Understand?".
I nod my head in the affirmative because my mouth is so dry the words would have gotten stuck.
"Oh, yeah. Were you from?
I meekly answer "the Bronx"
"Well on more rule I got. Don't come to Harlem like those dumb motherfuckers from Long Island and start trying to speak jive! Don't even try that shit!".
More furiously I nod my head in the affirmative. S-- begins to pull out into the street muttering "motherfucker. Gotta work with a rookie can't even speak".
S-- goes up the wrong way on 136 Street and hangs a quick right on Lenox Avenue. We ride north past 137st, 138st up to 145st and Lenox Avenue. S-- hangs a.right and begins to drive over a bridge. "Welcome To The Bronx' the sign says. To scared to perspire I'm not even asking why we're going into the Bronx. S-- drives about 3 blocks and hangs a quick u-turn stopping right in front of what appears to be a bar so old I was expecting to see a plaque proclaiming "George Washington drank here". A rel hole in the wall if there ever was one.
S-- is has a foot on the street before he puts the bus in park.
"Wait here" he tells me as he disappears into this place whose sign reads " Glackens". Heh, where the fuck am I going? So I sit and wait looking to my right at a group of buildings I would soon discover is called the Polo Grounds. About 5 minutes later s-- comes strolling back out. In each hand he holds what looks like a Carvel Cup.he comes over to my open window and passes me one of the cups. He proceeds to walk around to the front and slides into the driver's seat. He looks at me and says "yo man , drink up. That shit cost me 5 dollars" "What is it", I ask. S-- starts laughing out loud, " the first word out of the rookie's mouth is a question. What the fuck you give a shit, drink it". Intimidated as hell and swearing that tomorrow I would go back to the Botanical Gardens and ask for my janitor back I took a small sip. About 5 seconds later my ears started to burn. But it was good! I had a little more, and a little more and soon I felt the anxiety begin to ebb away. The neighborhood became softer, almost like a melody. Soon I was even smiling. I looked at S-- feeling much less anxious, "Hey, what is this". S-- starts laughing, "man that's called a VC. Enough liquor in there to knock someone out. Why you like it" S-- asks me with a quizzical look on his face. "Yeah', I answer "can we go back later and get another one?". S-- pulls the bus over to the curb, extends his hand to me and says, "you passed the test. Welcome to Harlem".

Saturday, May 4, 2013

"Rocco, We In Boo Coo Trouble" A Fire And Two People Shot

I'm working a 5pm-1 am shift with Mike. The dispatcher sends us over to 125 Street and Broadway to standby at a fire. The NYFD would usually request an ambulance to stand by at a decent sized fire just in case one of the firemen got hurt. We pull up, park our vehicle close enough to get anyone out quickly but not to where we'd get stuck by some other emergency vehicle coming on to the scene. and we wait. The fire is in a row of stores. It's mostly an exterior attack, no firemen inside. And there we sit for two hours, drinking coffee, BS'ing with the cops (this was before the EMS-FDNY merger. The firemen really didn't want to bother with us. they kind of looked down on us. The feeling was definitely mutual).
It's now about two hour later. not a spark can be seen. Not a whiff of smoke in the air. some of the firetrucks have been packed up and are leaving. The rest are being readied. It's at this time that a cop comes running over to me, 'Hey, you guys listening to this?". The cop puts his radio up in volume and I hear:
"Central where are the damn buses for 127 and 7 ave? We got two people shot and they're both going out of the picture. We need an 85 forthwith , large crowd central". So he's got two people shot on the street, they both look as if they're dying and he's got a large, angry crowd around him"
"32 George", the dispatcher answers "EMS says no available units! In the 32, 32 George is calling an 85 forthwith for crowd control, units respond'
I look at Mike. He looks at me and we both look at the fire scene. most of the firemen are hanging around smoking cigarettes and bullshitting.
"Mike fuck this" I say hurriedly "let's get the fuck outta here"
"10-4" Mike responds. We jump into the ambulance. I grab the radio. "18 boy to central"
"18 Boy, go"
"Central, we've been released from the fire scene no injuries. put us going to 127 and 7 for two confirmed shot'
"18 Boy, you took the words right out of my mouth' answers the dispatcher.
Mike slams the bus into drive and we fly like lunatics, wrong side of the street, wrong way up one way streets at 60-70 mph. About three minutes later we arrive on the scene. there's got to be a crowd of at least 5000 people out there going nuts. We pull up and it starts "How come it took you so long motherfuckers, if this was Park Avenue downtown you would have been here 20 minutes ago" "Motherfuckers, they going to die because of you slow-assed motherfuckers' We make our way through the crowd. There lay two black males, both about twenty years old, both not breathing, both shot in the face. We rip open our trauma bags and start to ventilate both patients. To our relief I hear we hear that 16 Willie, a medic unit has just been freed from dropping a patient off at St. Luke's Hospital and is coming to back us up. So me and Mike keep ventilating the patients to the shouts of 'motherfucker", "if they die you die", etc.. 16 willie pulls up about 4 minutes later. They run over with long boards and stretchers. We package the patients for transport. Each ambulance gets a patient. since me and mike are both less trained Emergency Medical Technicians at the time, we drive as the medics treat the patient in each vehicle. My guy is ready first. So I take off to Harlem Hospital with the medic in the back with the patient.Mike is about two minutes behind me driving 16 Willie's ambulance.
It takes me only a few minutes to arrive at Harlem Hospital. I make a wide sweeping turn and begin to back up into the ambulance bay when my radio starts going off
"15 Patrol to central" 15 Patrol is the street boss for the tour
"Central to 15 Patrol'
"Central get me 5 BLS units to 125 Street and Broadway"
"10-4 15 Patrol"
"Motherfucker" I inadvertently yell and punch the steering wheel. Fucking firemen put out the fire. Now, looking for a day or two off they're swarming around the Patrol Supervisor with complaints like " Ah, yeah there guy. I pulled a hose and felt something pull in my back", "Ah, yeah I was taking down a door and part of it hit me in the elbow". Nothing serious but man am I fucked! I left the scene without being released by the fire chief.
I back the bus in, get the patient out and run him into the trauma room where the medical staff takes over. I run back outside to give mike a hand. I get outside  just as he's pulling up. He opens his window as the vehicle is still moving and yells in a shaky voice, "Rocco! We in Boo Coo trouble! We in Boo Coo trouble!', as if i don't know myself. So I help him in with the patient. It takes us about 10 minutes to do our side of the paperwork. Just as I'm finishing I hear my unit being called on the radio
'18 Boy are you on the air?"
"18 Boy central'
"18 Boy, when your done 10-3 the dispatcher". They want me to call the dispatcher.
I dial the number. My hand feels like it weighs a hundred pounds.
"This is 18 Boy'
"Rock, what's up ? It's John" . John and i worked together on the streets a few times. Real nice guy.
"Hey John, what's up' I reply, knowing full well 'what's up'.
"Dude, call your old lady, she's at St. Luke's" he advises me. My "old lady' is my girlfriend at the time, Ann. She's also an Emergency Medical Technician and was on one of the units that responded to 15 Patrol's request for ambulances to the fire that I left at 125 Street and Broadway. So I call her.
"Hey, babes, what's up". She reply's "Don't worry about the fire. I transported the fire captain and told him what happened and he said not to sweat it'. "Your fucking kidding me " I almost yell as everyone looks towards me. 'Nah, don't sweat it. It's OK". Listen', I reply, "let me go tell Mike before he hangs himself in the bathroom". I look through the bay windows and see mike standing there biting his finger nail with with one hand and smoking with the other. I step outside. Mike looks at me nervously. I start to laugh. "Mike, chill. My old lady transported the captain and explained what happened. He said there was no problem". Mike looks at me dumbstruck for a moment, then start to smile and breaks out laughing. "you motherfucker, I need a fucking drink". "Me too, Mike" I reply laughing in relief. With ten minutes to go in the tour we were done for the night. Three hours and three six packs later and we were still laughing at our dumb luck.

"You Don't Want to Come In Here" With A Gun Between The Eyes

So me and John are sitting at 125 st and 12th Ave eating some pizza when the radio cackles:
"18 Boy" calls the dispatcher
"18 boy central" my partner answers back
"Pick up the unknown condition 129 Street and 5 Avenue"
"10-4 central, were on the way"
There is nothing we hated more than the job type "unknown condition". It means someone picked up a phone, requested and ambulance and hung up. It could be anything. Furthermore since an "unknown condition" is a low priority call it meant the cops wouldn't be responding with us.
We pull up to a dilapidated  3 story brownstone building on 129 street between 5th  and Madison avenues. We get out our equipment including trauma bag, oxygen and folding wheelchair. We walk through the front door and up to the second floor over creaking, debris strewn stairs. It's midday but because there is only one grimy hall way window that faced the opposite side of where the sun was shinning and no hallway lights it may as well been early evening.
We finally make our way up to the second floor and begin to search for the apartment our supposed patient is in. So damned quiet in there it made my ears ring. We finally find our apartment at the end of the hallway. the door is about one-third ajar. the apartment silent. "EMS, anyone call for an ambulance" I call out. No answer. I move closer to the door, peer through the opening and am about to call in when I see a man inside the apartment about fifteen feet from me. "EMS, this is EMS" I shout. I put my hand on the door and push it open to about halfway. Immediately the door is pushed back at me. Seems someone is behind the door. I push back and the door pushes back towards me. " You don't wanna come in here" scowls a deep voice from behind the door. I answer "but Sir the person on the floor looks like he needs help". "I said you don't wanna come in here" is the response.
Now i don't know why i did what I did next. Maybe I was aggravated by having the door shoved in my face twice, I was concentrating on the patient who looked, if not dead then very seriously injured, but I then shoved the door as hard as I could and began to step into the apartment. "I told you you didn't wanna fucking come in here" screams the guy on the other side as he now steps out from behind the door. My testicles turn to ice cubes. He's about 30 years old, black as night about 6 foot and well over 200 pounds. He's sweating profusely and in his right hand is the biggest, ugliest gun I have ever seen. Up it comes right between my eyes. "how many fucking time you got to be told motherfucker, DON'T COME IN HERE". I don't move a muscle. I can feel my heart pounding in my chest but I'm not sure if I'm breathing. "alright Sir, sorry. I'm going to step out now". "GET THE FUCK OUT" is my answer. So I slowly  put down my equipment looking straight past the gun and at him. "We're leaving". all I could think about was a saying I heard once, 'you'll never hear the click". I back out of the doorway which puts me out of sight of my new found friend and his semi-automatic friend.I made it down to the street, along with my partner in such a hurry i don't remember the trip down.
"18 Boy, emergency transmission"
"All units stand by', responds the dispatcher, "18 boy what's up'
"Central man with a gun, possible DOA in the apartment"
"18 Boy are you in the apartment?'
"Negative central, we've left the apartment. We're safe down in the street"
"Stay the Boy, I'm getting PD there forthwith"
The radio really comes to life,
"18 Young put us on their back'
"17 Charlie we're going"
"16 Charlie we're two blocks away'
"Who ever is going , go. Just keep the radio clear for Boy"
Withing just a couple of minutes the street is jammed with ambulances, police cars. Supervisors from the entire borough show up.
Lt. Martin comes up to me 'you OK!"
"We're OK, Liu, just a little shaken'
'Alright, go back to the end of the street. Have a cigarette and chill out"
"Yes, Sir'
It took about two hours for the police to enter the apartment and place my gun-totting friend into custody. that's when we got the story. the dead man on the floor was my adversary's brother. they were both involved in stealing tokens from the subway. they would put something in the token slot. when a person placed a token into the subway turnstile it would get caught by the surface. Than he our his brother would suck it out.they would then resell them at a discount to other subway riders.According to the cops the brothers had a disagreement regarding how the money was being divvied up. One word led to another, a gun was pulled, a brother shot. Never again did i go pushing on an open door, at least without knocking first.