My partner and I were dispatched to an address in the central part of town on an ‘Unknown Medical.’ We were to go to the alley and find the male patient in need of some unknown kind of help – we would know it was him because he was the “unconscious” guy on the cardboard mat in the corner of the parking lot. Nice. But one of my rules is that they give me an address and I go there to see if I can help someone. It was a simple job. I woke the guy up, asked if he was okay (he was), made sure he was sober enough to take care of himself (he was stone-cold sober), and told him to have a nice nap.
At the beginning of my career I used to roust those patients and make them find a more hidden place to sleep: “Beat it; you can’t sleep here.” My thought process was that if someone saw him and called 911 once, it could happen again. Thus, he needed to find a more hidden place to make his camp so I didn’t have to go back. But I no longer do that.
I have a role in making sure that the “down party” doesn’t need medical attention and that they are generally sober enough to not need to go to Detox, not die in a little fountain of rock-star-style aspirated vomit, and/or not stagger into traffic. I’m fully down with the concept that the need for medical aid can include ingestions of ethanol that have resulted in altered mentation. That’s okay. But it isn’t my place to make them move camp for my convenience. I am a medical provider, not a police officer. I can’t enforce camping or trespassing laws. This guy had found a shady spot after “flying his sign” on the corner and was napping in the shade. He was sober. Good enough. I hope the rest of his siesta was good.