Michael Morse, a rescue captain with the Providence Fire Department, responds to threatening situations as a matter of course. In an article published on ems1.com, he reveals an occupational hazard that is rarely discussed: the temptation to engage in street justice.
Morse describes several incidents in which his professional “brothers” allowed unprofessional instincts to flare when confronted with unruly or notoriously obnoxious patients.
“That’s Ryan,” said a large, veteran firefighter who had responded to a call for assistance. “He took a swing at me last week,” he said, trying to enter the back of the ambulance.
Morse blocked his way and said, “Not today.” He spoke to the officer in charge of the company. “You guys are all set.”
The situation was defused, but others like it occur regularly, and challenge a rescue worker to uphold the code of honor that defines the job. Morse relates how one of his colleagues threw punches at a mouthy 16-year-old kid during transport while Morse’s back was turned.
“As sick as it sounds, it happens,” writes Morse. “It happens all the time, and not just in Providence. It’s one of those ugly things that go on when nobody is looking and human nature takes over, and people forget why they are here and what is acceptable.”