Engine 14 on Scene

By Michael Morse

“Engine 14 and Rescue 1, respond to 65 Applegate Road for a male unconscious.”

The 14s are close, Rescue 1 about seven or eight minutes away. I reluctantly roll out of my bunk, I’d only been on it for a few minutes, and hit the pole. By the time the overhead doors close behind us Engine 14 is on scene.

“Engine 14 to Fire Alarm, advise incoming rescue we have a male in his twenties, respiratory arrest.”

“Rescue 1 receive?”

I key the mic”

“Rescue 1 received, ETA five minutes.”

male in his twenties, not breathing, wonder if he has a pulse

“Engine 14 to Fire Alarm, patient has a pulse, we’re bagging.”

“Rescue 1 received.”

probably an OD, hope there’s no crowd

“Engine 14 to Fire Alarm, expedite police.”


“Nature for police Engine 14?”

“Hostile crowd.”

here we go…

We’re three minutes out, a guy in his twenties is in all likelihood in respiratory arrest due to an opiate overdose. I know the officer in charge of Engine 12 and his crew have been through similar scenarios dozens of times. I visualize the scene, panicking family members and friends stashing drugs and paraphernalia, shouting, maybe some pushing, hiding their guns, and disappearing.

“Engine 14 to Fire Alarm.”

sounds like he’s ordering a pizza

“Advise Rescue 1 IV established, 2 mg Narcan being administered.”

man, I love those guys

“1 received, on scene with police.”

“Rescue 1 on scene at 0230 hrs.”

I step out of the cab, police closely behind me as we weave our way through about twenty people. In the middle of the crowd is Lieutenant Bo Jackson. He gives me a grin as his crew helps the patient to his feet. There is no tension; the scene is secure, and calm. The crowd drifts away.

“How’s your night?” asks Bo as we follow the patient and firefighters to Rescue 1.

“Couldn’t be better. Thanks Bo.”

Engine 14 and the police go back in service, my partner and I stay on scene for a bit, do a proper assessment and then transport the patient; his name is Daryl, and he’s polite, articulate and even a little remorseful. On the way he tells me a little about himself; how he had planned to admit himself to rehab in the morning and thought one last ride would be a good idea.

“It was almost your last ride,” I say as the truck rolls through the deserted streets toward the ER.

Daryl lies back in the stretcher, the radio on my hip clacks to life:

“Engine 14 in quarters and off.”


When we work together, everybody benefits. Communication is the key to proper patient care. Knowing what to expect when arriving on scene is truly a blessing. The first-in company on an ALS call is more often than not an engine company. A scene and patient assessment is a vital component of a successful outcome, and everybody benefits.

Michael MorseMichael Morse recently retired from his position as captain, Rescue Co. 5, with the Providence (RI) Fire Department after 23 years. He lives a few miles from his old station with his wife, Cheryl, a couple of Maine Coon cats and their dog, Mr. Wilson. He writes about his experiences as a firefighter/EMT in his books, Rescuing Providence and Responding, and contributes articles to many fire/EMS-related publications.

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