Two days ago, I had my first “real” brawl/wrestling match in the emergency room. This would mark twice in less than a week where someone would raise their hands to swing at me, and I’d have to employ my “special skills.” This most recent case was the craziest by far.
A patient checks in feeling suicidal- we have certain policies that are in place for the safety of patients and staff. Our policy states that all psych patients will change into a gown, and give blood and urine samples unless medically directed otherwise. This patient was aggressive and refusing to follow directions, right off the bat.
After finally convincing the patient to go the bathroom to change- there is another patient in the bathroom. “That’s divine,” says the patient. Hmm…I don’t think God is telling you to not go into the bathroom to change into a gown. I’m pretty sure He would be ok with this policy…
I explain that we will get blood and urine samples before the visit is over- a spring pops loose in the patients brain, and before I can blink- they have sprung from their bed and bowled through both their friend, and myself. This patient was on a mad dash for the door…and unfortunately for both of us- it’s my job to stop them.
Usually, re-directing someone back to their bed is no biggie, I’ve trained for years, grappling, wrestling- and I feel like I have pretty great body control. This patient was a bit of an exception. I never got the official weight of the patient, but they were over three hundred pounds- and closer to four than three if I had to guess. Don’t let the weight fool you, when they ran for the door- all of the athletic abilities that were pent up for the last thirty years or so -came out.
As the patient rounds the corner, I grab a wrist with both hands, hoping to slow them down, and have a second to reason with them. The patient turns on me, raises a fist, and when I let go to protect my face with one hand, drops the hammer of Zeus on my other hand- totally breaking my grip. Like a train with no brakes, the patient is rocketing towards the door.
As I run behind, thinking how to safely detain the patient, I realize I can’t just wrap up the legs like I would usually- on the mat. It’s too dangerous the patient could be seriously injured in the fall because of their size. I wrap my arms around the patients waste (barely reaching, and sit. Right before we hit the floor, I spin- putting myself on top of the (now extremely angry and aggressive) patient. The patient is sitting and swinging and I quickly lock down “side control” on the patient- burying my head to avoid any potential damage.
Once I have a second of clarity- I yell “SECURITY!!!” It seems like forever until security is on scene, and I yell “SECURITY,” again- only to realize that there are ten or so people standing around. Things get a little fumbled in your head in a time like this.
What made me laugh was when the patient says to me, “Sir, I respect you, but can you please take some weight off of me?”
I’m only 180 lbs. but years on the mat have taught me how to be very “heavy” on top of someone, and I sure was doing all I could to pin this opponent to the floor. Into restraints and onto the gurney, the patient is wheeled into a private room and continues to go wild for the next few hours.
I end up with a red eye, a scratch over the other one, a scratched wrist and a couple of sore knees from wrestling on tile, but overall- I felt pretty good. Marking that one up in the “win” column.
Anything you can do in your spare time to improve how you can defend yourself and protect others is a good thing. The more you practice, the higher the likelihood that you will be able to initiate your training under pressure.
It was good to have two days off after that ordeal. Never a dull moment in the emergency room. The patient did tearfully apologize for scratching me later…so- that was nice.