Mrs. Turquoise and I got toned out to the mountain. Dispatch said the call was for ‘an older man, fell skiing earlier, loss of short-term memory’.
We got out to the mountain and went into the ski patrol room. One of the ski patrolers met us at the door and said the guy was really confused, remembered nothing, and was a little combative. The ski patrol medical person pointed out the patient; the man was sitting on a sofa, taking off ski boots. He looked fine.
I went over to where he was sitting.
“Hello sir. I’m Bx, I’m with the ambulance. What’s going on?’
The man looked up at me. His initial annoyed expression was immediately replaced with a serene countenance.
“I am Batman.”
The man had no clear idea why he was in the first-aid room. He did not remember falling, though was able to deduce that he must have had an accident. He was visiting with a group of people from down south someplace; one of them had seen the guy fall tail over teakettle earlier. The guy’s skis had come off but he had not hit anything. The two had finished the run, then the patient had gone to ski another run by himself while the other person went into the lodge. Nothing had seemed amiss at the time; the patient was later found confused at the bottom of the hill and had been brought to the ski patrol.
The patient gave me permission to touch him and I carefully inspected his head, neck, and back. There were no issues with any of these. The patient had a small pain on his ribs though the rib cage was stable and there was no change in the level of pain when the patient breathed. The only issue seemed to be with the patient’s total lack of short term memory. The patient was able to carry on a conversation but would forget everything within a minute or two.
The patient’s wife called on his cell phone; she was at home. The patient took the call and identified himself as Batman.
I considered backboarding the patient. He seemed really agitated and didn’t want to go to the hospital at all. Given the fact that the guy had skied another run and had been walking around, I elected not to board him as I felt that it would upset him further. We took him to the ambulance, seat belted him into the crew bench, and got under way.
We had the same conversation every two minutes on the way to the hospital.
“Did I fall? I must have fallen.”
“What run was it on?”
“Was it (I hope) spectacular? It must have been.”
“Was I wearing my favorite hat? Was it found?”
“Is anyone from the group following us?”
I answered each question cheerfully and as though the patient had not asked the question moments before. I also asked the patient questions to try to determine the extent of memory loss.
The patient knew which mountain he had been skiing at but did not remember leaving home. The patient did not remember Christmas. The patient was unsure of the year but knew it was at least 2007. The patient did not know who the president was, even when prompted that we had a new one.
We delivered the patient to the hospital. He introduced himself to the nurse and then to the PA as Batman. After we had been at the hospital for a few minutes he did not remember the ambulance ride.
After Mrs. Turquoise and I returned to the fire house, I searched for ‘I am Batman’ on the Internet. This is what I came up with.
The patient was sharp enough to realize that he had memory loss and connect it to this commercial, not just once, but over and over – for, of course, he would not have remembered making the joke previously.
We called the hospital and filled them in on the Batman reference.
Subsequently we found that the patient had a prior history of multiple concussions and that the tumble had sloshed him around enough to concuss him again, even with no impact to his head.