Target Practice

By Michael Morse

We found him lying under a box truck. I crawled under; dragged him onto a long board; and, with help from Brian and the guys from Engine 13, dragged him out. Once illumination entered the picture, supplied from a streetlamp directly overhead, I saw the lower half of his right leg soaked with blood and more blood spilling from the top of his sneaker. A quick assessment didn’t show any more holes; we lifted him onto the stretcher and put him into the truck. Rhode Island Hospital was less than a half-mile away; we had two IVs running, an EKG done and sent to the ER, some oxygen administered, and him stripped down in the minute it took us to get there.

The guys did a great job. It wasn’t our first shooting, and won’t be our last. Things run on automatic now, new guys fall into place after three or four, and the cycle continues. As long as they keep shooting each other, we’ll keep plugging the holes.

“What happened?” I asked as the crew did their thing.

“I’m supposed to be going to a party!”

“That’s nice, but how did you get shot?”

“I don’t know, jus’ walkin.’ Hey! Them IVs hurt more than the bullets!”

Firefighters: great with big hoses, not so good with little needles, but practice makes perfect!

“Who shot you?”

“Don’ know, I’m supposed to be goin’ to a party!”

Turns out there were three holes. I only saw two; the trauma team at the hospital found the other. He had an entry and exit wound in his right leg and another would in the left. One bullet, three holes. The slug ended up on the floor of Rescue 1. It couldn’t have gone too deep into the left leg; it probably punctured the skin a little and fell into his pants.

The Trauma Team did their thing; he ended up in surgery–no pedal pulse–about 15 minutes after we brought him in. The police tried to get some information from him, but the party story stuck. An hour later, Rescue 1 and Engine 13 responded to a shooting, a block away from the first.

More target practice for the firefighters.

Must have been some party.


Michael Morse, a Providence (RI) Fire Department member for 22 years, writes about his experiences as a firefighter on Engine Co. 2, 7, and 9 and Ladder  Co. 7 and 4, as well as his time on Rescue Co. 1 as a lieutenant and Rescue Co. 5, where he is currently captain. He lives with his wife Cheryl seven minutes from his station, which, fortunately for him, is “worlds away.”



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