An Honest Discussion: Dangers of Being a Female First Responder
“509 to dispatch. We are still waiting for PD at our location. Please hurry, medics in danger.”
At this point the gang members began yelling at us, some in Spanish, some in English. Lori was doing a good job of trying not to back herself into a corner, but it was becoming increasingly difficult as more men appeared. I was trying to stay as close as possible to Lori, but they were doing a good job of dividing and conquering. Since they knew I had a radio, I wasn’t afraid to use it.
“509 to dispatch! PD needed! NOW NOW NOW!” I was yelling, our dispatch center was notorious for ignoring the fire frequency.
“Dispatch to 509. Where is your location?” Is this a joke? I pushed the panic button on the radio so I could have both hands free. I put the radio back on my belt so I could get ready to fend off my attackers. I wasn’t going down without a fight.
“Behind KFC in the alley! Please hurry! Medics in trouble, medics in trouble!” I kept repeating that line over and over again. I look over at Lori, and her back is against the wall, eyes wide with fear. I am sure her expression mirrored my own. I look back at the 4 guys surrounding me. One of them is yelling at me, saying I have to pay for helping the guy on the ground. PD was still nowhere to be found.
Suddenly I heard an air horn in the distance, and it got progressively louder. I whipped my head around toward the noise and saw the most beautiful sight ever…a fire engine. And out of that fire engine jumped out four firemen. Two carrying axes, one carrying a halligan bar, and one carrying a pike pole.
The gang members didn’t scatter, but they did back off. Lori and I were able to slip away and run over to our saviors. PD finally arrived, 4 cars pulling in. Half of the gang members ran, and half stayed. I felt comfortable enough to head back over to our patient. Since we had more then enough help, we were able to board him and get him into the relative safety of our ambulance fairly quickly.
I didn’t realize how much that experience affected me until we dropped the patient off at the ED. I sat in the medic room, and I started shaking. How close were we to becoming victims ourselves? How many of those guys were carrying guns? Why did it take PD so long to respond? Would it have been so different if I was partnered with a male?
Somehow, I didn’t think so, but the department argued it would have been. It became an official rule…no longer were two women allowed to work together.