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01/23/2003 Entry: "But I Was Just Following Orders!"

I think a lot of the Nazi officers who ran concentration camps under Hitler's regime claimed that they were "just following orders" during the War Tribunals. "It was procedure, I didn't make the rules." That didn't fly with a lot of the people who lost whole generations of families because of Hitler's insecurity with his pee-pee. And it doesn't fly with me, either.

Today, my son hit his head at school. Hard, but not damaging. So he went to the clinic. The nurse there is a skittish woman who looks like she's been yelled at all her life. I can see why. She has almost no spine or common sense. She calls the ambulance at least once a day. No fooling. Today was my son's day.

She called my wife at home, but Christine was on another line. So she called me, even though we left her Christine's cell phone. I was at work, in the middle of everything, so I spoke to my son, he seemed fine, and I let him go back to class. Then, in the middle of another meeting with someone I desperately had been trying to get ahold of all day before he went on vacation next week, the nurse called again, said my son was "sleepy," and since "the nurse's station was not a bedroom," I had to either come pick him up right away, or she'd send him to the hospital. I told her my wife was at home, but she insisted that my wife never answered her phones. I IM'd Christine, and she said that CR was fine, and that he didn't need to come home. Long story short, the nurse called the ambulance.

Why? Because it was "procedure." Neither one of us could whisk him away, and so she didn't want to deal with it. So while I am on the phone with my son, who says his head hurts, and online with Christine, the nurse called 911. Probably for the second time that day. Christine called and raised holy hell. The EMTs arrived, verified my son was just fine, and then the nurse didn't want to deal with it, and sent him home. Christine had to pick him up, but they wouldn't let her talk to the nurse because she was so angry. She made damn sure everyone knew how stupid this was.

Now, I asked this nurse (before she called 911), "Are you sure you want to do this? Call the ambulance? A vehicle meant for people who cannot move on their own because of illness or injury? Isn't this overreacting?" "It's just procedure, sir." Great. Now, I am sure EMTs don't see a whole lot of "nothing wrong" cases a day, except maybe for this school. I am sure they are glad to arrive to a scene, and find people okay after all. But because this nurse can't even tell the difference between a headache from banging one's head to a serious, mind-damaging concussion, and probably because she doesn't want to make the bed, she took the skills and time of a pair of EMTs. A pair who could have been out saving someone who was having a heart attack or lost a limb in a car accident. A real issue. Not some, "No, it's just a red mark, he's fine." But hey, "It's procedure." She "doesn't want to face litigation." Just following orders. To the letter.

I bet we can get rid of her by writing on a piece of official-looking paper, "You're fired." She'd never even question the signature.

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