The Humorous Tale of Dr. Foster: A Paramedic Story

Having been a paramedic for almost fifteen years, I was exposed to all manner of things. Not all of those experiences were of the gross, nasty and vile. Some were outright hilarious — subjective and respectfully speaking — of course. But in the off-chance that you may find this humorous, please allow me to introduce you to, Doctor Hubert Foster…

It was a chilled winter’s nightshift, and Mark and I were parked on Fifth and Main just waiting for the next call to come in. With the way the night had been unfolding to that point, it was only a matter of time before we’d be called out for another run. We engaged in some idle chit-chat, and spoke in hopeful inflection about our respective sets of upcoming days off. Christmas was looming, and introspection of warm, cozy environments away from the cantankerous diesel fueled ambulance danced throughout my thinking space. I was ready for a break, but that break would have to wait…

“Medic Three-one, Medic Three-One, you’re getting called to the parking lot of Ben’s Diner on Sixteenth and Steelport. Police requesting assistance.”

The dispatchers voice commanded over the radio, her tinny oration played like nails to a chalkboard, but we acknowledged and initiated our response. The destination wasn’t too far, but the fact that it was at Ben’s Diner at quarter-passed four in the morning was a point of perplexity for both Mark and I. Ben’s Diner never stayed open later than seven p.m., no matter the night of the week, so why there would be a call there was anyone’s guess. But hey, it was nightshift… anything can happen!

When we got on scene, there were no less than four police cruisers parked in scattered pattern, their lights piercing the blackened night ambience with nictating “cherries and berries” (the red and blue emergency lights).

We hopped out of the ambulance and were met instantly by an unforgiving nip of cold night air. Pulling the collar of my jacket upward, I made my way toward one of the officers who I observed standing by their car. As I got closer, I noticed a shadowy figure lain on the ground in the middle of the parking lot. I approached the officer, announcing my presence.

“Hey, boss. Paramedics, what can we do ya for?”

“Hey, gents. So, we got this guy,” the officer motioned toward the darkened figure laying on the ground several feet in front of us, “breaking in to vehicles along Birchwood; when he noticed us, he took off running. Well, snow and ice here made the apprehension for us, buddy went horizontal about three-feet in the air before landing full weight onto one of his ankles. He says it’s broken, but that’s not for me to say… hence you boys are here…” It was at this point that I could begin to hear the man moaning authentically in discomfort. Mark and I nodded at the officer, and then approached the man on the ground. Indeed, the direction of one of his feet did not seem to be sitting in normal, anatomical position — definitely broken.

“Hello, sir. I’m, Matthew — we’re paramedics. I can see that your foot and ankle have seen better days… are you hurt anywhere else?” I asked as I neared the man for assessment. Through colorful colloquy, he informed me that he’d prefer that I go visit my mother and engage in incestual fornication. I opted to ignore both his remark and suggestion, and instead repeated my question. He answered this time, letting me know that he was uninjured anywhere else other than his right ankle, however I suspect his pride was a tad bruised as well. Not much a paramedic can do for that though.

“Okay, well, let’s get you in the ambulance and see if we can fix you up a bit, eh?” I said. Mark and I got to work, stabilizing the man’s ailing foot and ankle, rolling over our stretcher and hoisting the man atop of it. Once we got in the back of the rig, I used my sheers to cut away the bottom portion of his pant-leg. I removed his shoe and sock to expose the true nature of his injury. It was one of the most angulated and disfigured fractures I’d come across, even Mark grimaced subtly. I couldn’t feel a pulse in his foot, so we then had to attempt to straighten it and place everything in proper alignment. I gave him a healthy dosage of “happy juice” A.K.A: pain reliver medication, but even with high dosages of meds now in his system, his muscles were too tense and we were unable to manipulate his foot and ankle in any way shape or form. This wasn’t a good thing, so we made haste to the nearest trauma hospital. This is where doctor Foster comes in…

Doc Foster is a South African physician that had relocated to Canada some years prior. He was a brilliant practitioner, but his bedside manner was… well… it was uniquely his own, lets start there. He had a particular way of speaking, and I am not referring to his accented tonality. Some considered him to be brash, abrasive and at times superfluously rude — but to me, that was all just part of his charm.

After checking in with triage, we were given instructions to head to room two. Once there, a team of nurses helped us move our beleaguered patient to one of their beds. Not long after, doc Foster made his appearance.

“Hello, everybody. So, what do we have here…?” His accented baritone filled the room. I began giving my handover report, and upon learning that the individual, now squirming with increasing discomfort, had been injured in the act of breaking into vehicles, Foster launched into a heated lecture toward the man.

“Breaking into cars, huh? Well… what did we learn?” He asked, now leaning over the man on the stretcher.

I was anticipating some distasteful retort, but surprisingly the man simply replied with, “I shouldn’t run from the cops…”

“…No. You should have worn better shoes! Might have been able to get away with it. Now you’re going to jail AND you have a broken ankle — don’t even get me going about soaps and jails,” he said with sardonic precision.

After several attempts of his own to realign the man’s foot, he realized that sedation may be in order, so he drew up some Propofol, also known as, Milk of Amnesia. It’s a drug used for deep relaxation during surgery, or in this case, a medical procedure. The hope was that this would relax the muscles enough to be able to properly resituate the foot and ankle.

Doc Foster began administering the medication via the intravenous line I had started for him in the ambulance, as he was pushing the drug, he all of a sudden called out to the man…

“Hey! Hey, you!!” The man responded with garbled return and doctor Foster continued, “Answer me this… how long have you worked for the CIA? How long, huh? How long have you been with the CIA?” The police officer that had been standing off to the side taking notes all of a sudden peaked up from her notepad and examined the situation in front of her. Other than doctor Foster, we all boasted bent brows, weighted by obfuscation. Shockingly, the man responded right before passing out completely.

“Ugh… seven years.”

You could have heard a pin drop in that room. Each and every person in the room glanced eyes off one another before landing squarely onto the man on the gurney, and doctor Foster. Feeling all eyes on him, doctor Foster peered up toward us while simultaneously plopping the man’s foot and ankle back into place.

“What? I’ve never had someone not answer the question. I even had a nine-year-old once tell me that he’d been a CIA operative for twenty-one years right in front of his mother… come to think of it, her expression was a lot like all of yours,” he said before laughing to him self. After finishing the procedure, doc Foster removed his gloves and mimicked a basketball shot when discarding of them into a nearby trash can — he missed. But, well, that was part of his charm, too, I suppose.

Mark and I laughed about that for the rest of the night. We even made a pact that any chance we had where sedating a patient was in order, we’d take a page from doctor Foster’s playbook and pose the question to our patient, but that never came to fruition. Probably for the best, I reckon that he’s the only one who could pull off a stunt like that.

Anyway, that’s doc Foster; the man, the myth, the irascible physician himself, and that was my paramedic story.

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