Recently I was called onto an aircraft on the report of a head injury. I rode down to the correct gate and headed down the jet bridge to the plane. At the door, I met five or six flight attendants and airline representatives. It didn’t seem like they wanted to let me on board until they talked to me. They were acting very conspiratorial. So I let them explain the situation to me.
“The pilot hit his head in the bathroom. It isn’t bleeding or anything, and he wasn’t knocked out, but we thought you should check him out. But, listen, he said he doesn’t need medical attention. So he may be irritated that we called you…”
I asked if there was a specific worry due to the man’s position driving a metal tube at a significant percentage of the speed of sound near the edge of the stratosphere. “Is there an FAA regulation that he gets checked or something?” Nope.
“Was he knocked out?” Nope.
“Knocked down?” Nope.
“Has be been acting weird since the event?” Nope. They just wanted him checked out.
I think I held eye contact too long. I just stared, mouth slightly open. I was wishing I could perform a Vulcan mind meld or some other form of telepathy. I want to know what the people who call me to “check out” a person who doesn’t want to be checked out are thinking. What do they imagine will happen? How do they picture the EMS response going down? What is the expectation? I want to know, so I can meet the expectation. I never know what to do with calls like this. Unwanted. Unneeded. I treat it like a customer service thing.
I stepped into the plane, turned left to find the captain, smiled, and asked how he was doing. He sighed and looked vaguely irritated. “I asked them nicely not to call you,” he told me.
I smiled like we were sharing a secret. “I know. You’re fine, then? Head still attached? Free checkup not needed?”
The pilot declined the offer of aid, we chatted for a second about the upcoming flight, and I stepped back off the plane. One of the airline representatives seemed disappointed: “That’s it? You just ask him one single question and leave?”
I smiled at her and went on about my day, “checking out” people. It is how I spend time between EMS calls.