I get asked on a regular basis what is the grossest thing I have seen at work. To me it is just shades of gray. I see all manner of unbelievable gross things; so many, that I could never remember all of them all, some, I wish I could forget.
As many of you know I am an odd person and I have my idiosyncratic issues that make me gross out on things that would not bother others. For example, I gag every time I see someone eating in jail. The smell of the jail with all of those stinky gross people just makes it completely impossible to consume any food products. I seriously wash my hands a few times after each trip to the jail. I sanitize my cuffs with alcohol wipes, and then I sanitize my hands again when I get back in the car. And this is when I was wearing gloves when I was dealing with the person.
Some memorable gross outs that I have not yet mentioned in this blog are, the 400 lb naked dead dude that purged his bowels. On that one when it came time to roll him over for photographs it took three of us. All of the other dead bodies I have dealt with at work I was able to roll them myself to check for trauma and let the CST take photos. Since I was junior to the other officers they went to the head and feet, what do you think I got? You guessed it, I got stuck with the sausage and chili in the middle. Eeeuuuuwwww. Then there was the drunk Native American female last night who ripped her clothes off. With her floppy jelly belly sticking out and swaying more than her breasts, I told her “Holy crap that is disgusting, cover up.” Or later that last night when I checked off on the air “with a bloody half naked dude” that had been hit in the head with a baseball bat. He was a bloody mess and he had a three inch long laceration so deep his skull was exposed. You can ask anyone, I don’t like blood. I can’t even watch those medical shows on TV without getting completely grossed out. However, at work it is very different. For some reason it does not bother me, I just go down my check list of things that need to be done and get it taken care of.
However, the call that sticks out in my mind as the bloodiest and grossest was a homicide I went to in my beat last winter. I responded to a stabbing at one of the high call for service apartments in my beat. When I arrived I was second on scene, the first unit was a two man unit which one of them spoke Spanish. The English speaking officer was knelt down trying to do first aid on the guy as the Spanish speaker was getting the info. The subject was a Hispanic male lying on his back in a pool of blood. The Spanish speaking officer told me that this occurred at a different apartments and his roommate was the suspect. Myself and the Lieutenant that just pulled up ran across the parking lot to the other set of buildings to the victim’s apartment. As we ran west across the lot the team of paramedics were pulling in and they slammed on the brakes as they saw us running towards them with purpose. I motioned with my left hand for them to keep going on by to go treat the victim. I suppose they don’t feel that it’s comfortably safe when we are running around like that. I don’t blame them; they don’t have a vest or a gun. There was a blood trail leading up the stairs with blood smears all over the hand railing. We approached the door and saw that blood droplets were crossing into the apartment on the threshold. I had gloved up while running over. I reached down to the door and looked at the LT and he nodded. I turned the knob and found it unlocked. I opened the door and pushed it wide open. I had my gun pointing in as did the LT. He got on the radio and asked for one unit to cover the rear and at least one more unit to the front door to help us clear the apartment and check for any more victims. Just a few moments later and FTO and his OIT arrived. (An FTO is a senior officer that trains new officer’s fresh out of the academy; the OIT is an Officer in training that is still being evaluated) The OIT spoke Spanish so LT had him give verbal commands for anyone inside to exit or make their presence known in English and Spanish. We went in with me covering long (down the farthest part of the apartment as the FTO and OIT went right to clear the living room. The LT was behind me and we moved down the hallway with me covering the kitchen now as LT covered long and the OIT went into the bathroom door to the right. As we move down the hall to the back of the apartment I am in the front position on the stack so the next door is mine. I peeled right to open the door and LT covers long into the last room that is right ahead of us as I open the door I see blood all over the place. Spurts of it all over the wall in the south east corner of the room and a pool about 2 feet across on the floor. It literally looked like a horror movie scene, but it was real. My heart was pounding and I was starting to feel tunnel vision creep in, but I need to check the far side of the bed. I fully expected to find another victim but I didn’t. I was glad because as pumped up as I was I probably would have shot them. I had never seen that much human blood, that was until I went to the hospital later this same night.
We pull back out and I get tasked to go to the hospital while the crime scene gets set up and locked down so no persons in or out until we have a search warrant. I got to the hospital and they were working hard on the victim to save his life. I talked to the paramedics who were first on scene and they said his blood pressure was 40 over zero when they arrived. They were stunned and in complete shock as we watched what the medical staff was doing. There was a crowd of about 30 people watching a dozen or so medical staff work this guy. One of the paramedics leans over and says. “This is crazy; I have never seen them do this out here before”. I looked over and they were cutting the victims chest open. The doctor was yelling for another set of chest spreaders. I guess it’s not too common to do this in the trauma room so a nurse had to run to the OR to get the second set. I saw the doctor spread his chest and reach in with his hands and splash out the blood as the suction was not taking it out fast enough. I could not believe my eyes. 8 feet from me I could see this guys heart and lungs. I saw the stab wounds in his lungs bleeding into his chest cavity. It was like watching TV and being right there except I could smell the metallic smell of blood and tangy stink of human organs. It was amazing to see them apply the internal paddles to his heart and watch his whole body jump as the defibrillator restarted his heart. They did it three more times as they attempted to stabilize him to get him to surgery. I observed them putting nearly 20 units of blood into him. Nearly all of it poured back out onto the floor. The pool of blood around the bed was about 12 feet in diameter. All of the carts and machines supporting the effort were in the puddle of blood. The doctor and all of the staff had blood up to their knees. The hallway was covered in bloody foot prints from the nurse’s running back and forth getting more blood and supplies. They worked him for an hour and twenty two minutes. I approached the middle-aged grumpy lady who seemed to be the drill sergeant nurse barking orders and yelling out times and numbers. She looked at me and said “Son, this is our crowning achievement, we have never had this much blood on the floor.” I asked her if he was going to make it to which she responded “oh heavens no.” Watching the chaos was like watching some weird sporting event that you don’t know the rules to or what is going on, kind of like cricket or some other foreign sport I know nothing about. In the end he did not make it. He was 17 years old. By know a parade of ghouls (hospital workers) was walking by in to see the carnage. I guess to people in the medical field this is a cool thing to see. I suppose it is like when I worked in the body shop of a Cadillac dealer and the owner drove his Ferrari or Lamborghini in, we would all parade by to check out the sweet car. Anyway, I had never seen that much blood. I hope I never do again.