Wednesday, April 16, 2008

It Could Get Festive 3

We had a shooting at the Dixie Doodle. It was a innocent, almost silly sounding name for one of the most dangerous bars in Orlando. Countless assaults, shooting, stabbing, cuttings and robberies had occurred at this one small single story concrete block building. It was one of the places that the predators and the desperate did their dance. We were invited to the dance there more than anywhere else. I had been there more times that I could count on all matter of mayhem over the years. I had been traveled into Station 2 to ride Rescue 2 that night. We received a call for a shooting. The station is only a few blocks away and the dispatcher told us to stage in the station until OPD could secure the scene.

I should have known securing the scene at the Dixie Doodle was going to be a challenge to say the least. The building could never hold all of the patrons on any given night and they always spilled out into the parking lot. I had seen as many as two hundred people outside the building, milling around drinking and partying. We went to the trucks to wait for the dispatch. It was not long before we were told the scene was secure and it was safe to go on in. We arrived to find the usual chaotic scene the Dixie Doodle always produced. There were hundreds of people milling around excitedly in the parking lot of the little structure. I was not driving that night so I was on the passenger side of the truck. I went to the compartment on my side of the truck to grab the drug box and airway kit. Just as I turned around to find the victim. Four shots rang out.

I have never seen so many people disappear so quickly in my life, Including the other members of the Engine and Rescue. They had ducked behind the Engine and the Rescue. But I was on the wrong side of the truck to do that. The only other people in sight was the victim, an ambulance attendant who had just arrived and police officer with his gun drawn standing next to them. I figured I would head for the only friendly face with a gun I could find. So I hustled over there in a crouch, holding the boxes up so I felt as if I had a little protection. The Lieutenant off the Engine said I looked really funny running and trying hide behind the boxes. I told him it did not feel that funny at the time.

The patient had single gunshot wound to the chest. He was coded. The ambulance attendant and I began to work immediately. The Engine crew, my partner and I worked frantically to package the patient and get out of there as soon as possible. As we bagged him, got an IV, and bandaged his wound with Vaseline gauge, the scene around us began to deteriorate. There simply were not enough officers on the scene to secure the area with literally hundreds of people milling around. We were soon surrounded by an angry and excited crowd. They were now jostling and threatening us and the police. As we worked we heard breaking glass. They broke out the drivers side window on the ambulance. As long as we were there the police were not going to be able to secure the scene. The cop who I originally ran to for cover, stayed with us to keep the crowd back as best he could.

We finally got the victim on a backboard, onto the stretcher and into the back of the ambulance. In spite of the broken window and the crowd the ambulance driver eased us through the crowd and out of there. It was a short and busy ride to the hospital as we tried to finish stablizing the patient. The Engine and Rescue left immediately after we did clearing the scene so the cops could concentrate on controlling the crowd.

Once we returned to the station from the hospital,the guys kidded me about how funny I looked trying to hide behind the drug box. I must have really looked funny trying to get my two hundred pounds behind a tackle box. I asked them how they were able to see me since they were under the trucks. I did not think they could see much past the trucks tires.

It turned out that another victim had been shot inside the building. Something I was never told. The second victim was pronounced dead there at the scene by another paramedic off another ambulance. My patient died. Apparently the two had gotten into an old fashioned gun fight and ended up killing each other. I never heard officially what the four shots I heard as I got off the truck were about, but my guess was that someone had fired them into the air to clear the scene. It was not one of the cops so it must have been one of the patrons.

The city closed the Dixie Doodle after this incident as a public nuisance. The patrons just found a new place to shoot and stab one another.

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