Last night they sent us to some vagueness at Tracy Towers. By vagueness i mean the job just said “MALE DIFFBREATHER” and not much else. Gave an apartment number but the dispatcher came up to let us know the patient would meet us downstairs. Fine, that’s always more pleasant than lugging 40 lbs of equipment up to some stuffy apartment. Thing is, Tracy Towers is this monstrosity of a project made up of many unmanageable somewhat connected ginormous buildings. There’s ramps, tunnels, construction areas, elevators that only go to some floors, cross over bridges to nowhere. All the post-apocalyptic Wonderland features of PJs that make it hard to find anybody. So when we finally find the building we need, which involved going the wrong way up a windy-ass ramp and through a cloud of pot smoke, the dude’s not there. A few cats are throwing dice in the parking lot, some ladies are smoking menthols on a bench and coughlaughing about the dudes throwing dice. A couple security guards are walking around looking more lost than we are.

We ask dispatch for a callback. There’s some confusion. Fire gets called to take down a door that we haven’t knocked on yet. The apartment might be A and it might be H, no one’s sure. We shrug and hang around with the dicethrowers waiting for someone to make sense of this mess. Somehow, Fire gets on scene and up to the apartment without going past us, surely by going up another series of MC Escher stairwells, and when we show up at the apartment they’re all irritated.
-We knocked on Apahtment A and they said they didn’t call.
Okay, I say, well we have to…
but they’re already in the elevator and gone before I can finish. Thing is, if someone might be sick or dead in apartment H, we can’t leave. So we put in a call for the grumpy Fire guys to come back, which surely pisses them off even more and causes them to fake mechanical troubles or whatever, because what happens next is we wait. And wait. And wait some mo’.

A lieutenant shows up. Makes angry gestures and mumbles about Fire. Puts down his stuff and commences pacing with us after he makes some phone calls. Ominously, there’s a tv blaring inside apt H but no one answering our incessant pounding. Stakeout the possible-dead guy’s door time always becomes storytime, so we recount our other mishaps and victories, like the time some cop decided not to take a door in and they found a dude with his throat slashed in there the next morning.

We wait some more.

Eventually, Fire comes back and it is, predictably, a different crew. They take the door and inside we find an apartment that is almost completely empty except each room has a large screen TV blasting infomercials and Glen Beck at full volume. And the windows are open, a draft blowing the curtains around, givin the place a chilly, semi-alive feel. No body though, so we pack up our crap and begin to work our way back through the serpentine impossibleness of Tracy Towers.


  1. Wow… What a weird scene! Pretty tough call – to break it down or not to break it down. I think I would, every time. The image of the guy with the slit neck will haunt me forever.

  2. Oh yeah, we always take the door. I don’t know about other agencies’ protocols but we pretty much have to if there’s any doubt whatsoever. Makes sense but def ends up being quite a hassle for people who call 911 and then just leave and don’t answer the phones. And we just end up standing outside for a while waiting for resources to come break the door in, as in the story above.

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