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Battle Royale

He is naked in the nursing home hallway, rolling over and over.  We manage to get a sheet under him and lift him up onto our stretcher.  His room air pulse saturation is 74–severely hypoxic.  The nurse, who told us he was COVID positive, said he walks around the wing and can hold a normal conversation.  He is all gibberish this morning, talking in tongues that don't sound human.  I put a nonrebreather mask on him and then place a surgical mask over it.  He tries to grab the mask, but I am able to keep his hands away.  In the back of the ambulance, he tries again to take the mask and oxygen off.  I keep telling him to cut it out and to stop, but he is too far gone to understand me. I take his arms and put both them at his sides, underneath the middle seat belt.  When I move toward the radio to call the hospital, his arms get loose and  he knocks his mask off again.  When I try to  replace it on his face, he grabs my wrist and starts pulling me towards him.  He is strong.  He has a death grip on my wrist.  He grabs my gown and shirt with his other hand and suddenly we are wrestling.  His mask is off and respiratory droplets are shooting out of his mouth right at me.  Even though I have an N95 mask on and a fogged up face shield over that, I am stressed by this turn of events.  COVID -19 has transformed him into Hellboy and he is spitting respiratory droplets at me like a spitfire plane strafing a beach.  I manage to put my knee on his side and and swing my right arm loose.  He still has me by the wrist.  My yellow gown is torn and pulled off my shoulder.  I am finally able to unpry his fingers off my wrist and then I sit back on the seat out of his reach.  The mask is off his face.  He mutters gibberish in his own world.  In the ER he will be sedated, intubated and shipped to the ICU. 


Normally after a call, I try to clear the hospital as quickly as I can, but not after this one.  I wash my hands multiple times, and then sit in an armchair in the empty  EMS room.  I write my run form, but instead of getting right up, I sit there a few minutes more.  And then I put my mask back on and head out to the ambulance.


I am finding these constant COVID calls draining.