The Good Old Days…

My first few months as a new police officer were spent being partnered with a senior officer and assigned to an area in the Downtown Eastside.  At the time, police were always dispatched to drug overdoses and many of my early calls for service were spent standing by and watching as paramedics and the Fire Department tried to bring the person back.

One such call found my partner and I dispatched to a hotel known for its violence and drug trade. When we finally made it up the multiple flights of stairs we found one paramedic and two firemen working on a man laying on his back in the middle of room.  Another man was being tended to in the corner by the second paramedic while the fire captain stood by holding the IV bag up above his head to allow the saline to drip into the recipients arm.

My partner wiggled himself into the back of the room to start collecting identification for the two men while I stood by the door to keep the few lookie-loos from creeping into the room.

A short time later there was a commotion in the hallway and all of us looked to the doorway in unison as a man staggered into view.  He was hunched over, his hands grasping his spouting thigh as more blood dripped to the plank floor from multiple stab wounds.  The man looked to the nearest paramedic and was able to croak out a plea for help.

Gun in hand I moved to where the man stood, bleeding all over the floor.  I gave him a quick pat down and finding no weapon told him to get his butt in the room, all the while keeping an eye and a gun pointed down the hall.

He was able to tell me the guy who stabbed him had just fled upstairs, and the commotion we heard was their argument over a drug debt.

I radioed in the stabbing and requested additional units as I made a move towards the stairs. My partner was busy trying to help the now swamped paramedics and firemen with their additional victim so I was on my own for the time being.  Knowing the suspect would be getting away but unsure as to how to proceed (remember, I had about two seconds on the job at the time), I inched into the hallway while I struggled with the decision of what to do.  I could hold where I was (which was completely useless) or I could move to secure the stairwell and take up a position of containment and cover.  The second option seemed like the better one, but even as I inched into the hallway I was still uneasy about going it alone.

That’s when there was a tap at my elbow and I turned to see the fire captain standing behind me.  Let me interject here – the fire captain was a very large, very strong, very imposing man.  He had been on the job since, oh, the 1960’s, and had obviously seen a thing or two. He made my 5’10” frame appear petite by comparison, and there was the fire of the Vikings shining in his eyes that day. If you have read any of the Harry Potter books or have seen any of the movies, then you will understand when I say I might as well have had Hagrid there with me.  Anyways, on with the story…

It only took a moment for me to realize the fire captain was holding a very large axe in one hand before he tipped his chin at me.

“Go on, blondie, I’ve got your back.”

With that, and with a healthy dose of confidence, I proceeded down the hallway to secure the floor where the suspect was.  The only conversation the fire captain and I had in those tense few minutes was when I told him to warn me if he decided to start swinging the axe so I could get out of the way.  He just smiled and told me to keep going.

“You’ve got the gun, don’t you?”

By the end of the shift the suspect hadn’t been found, having disappeared into the labyrinth of an old rooming house hotel. The victim later refused to say who had stabbed him out of fear of retribution.

But the call wasn’t an entire loss as I learned that help can be counted on from the most unexpected of places. The fire captain, seeing my uneasiness, decided to do what he could and was instrumental in us being able to quickly secure the scene.  He placed his faith in my ability as a marksman to keep him safe while at the same time wielding considerable force as my ‘back up’.

Mind you, I suspect the fire captain would have made one hell of a police officer – it’s just that he chose a pillow and a blankie instead of a gun and a badge. 😉


Salty – thanks for covering me on more than one occasion. You were a force to be reconed with, regardless of the fact you wore a different uniform.  You provided real life experience proving that protectors come in many forms. 

You were my fellow warrior that day, ready to do battle with only an axe, and my gratitude for your support and faith resonates to this day.

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