Tears. Snot. Blood.
When Pullman police officers Heidi Lambley and Chris Engle got a dispatch call on Friday night for a combative drunk with a possible alcohol overdose, they were in the middle of a traffic stop. They had pulled over a taxi that didn’t stop for pedestrians, but when the call came over the dispatch, Engle handed the driver back his information. Then he and Lambley hurried back to their patrol car.
They sped through College Hill, lights flashing. When they arrived at the address, Engle and Lambley were first on scene. The combative drunk’s friend led them into the dining room where a young man sat on the ground, slumped against the wall.
He was crying, and the only clothing he had on were his boxers.
Officer Engle asked the young man to sit in a chair at the dining room table.
“I’ll sit in a chair,” the young man slurred, “but just for you.”
Once in the chair, he slumped over onto the table and put his head on his arm. He started crying again and snot dripped from his nose. It looked difficult for him to lift his head back up again.
Lambley stood on the other side of the table, and she leaned over to talk to him.
“How are you doing tonight?” she asked, softly.
“Not good,” he sniffled. “She’s breakin’ my heart.”
He pointed to a girl who sat in the corner, sobbing. She was soaked from the rain and had mascara running down her cheeks.
“How much did you have to drink tonight?” Lambley asked him.
“Enough,” he said.
When she asked him how much “enough” was, he asked how much enough alcohol was for her. She laughed and said she was a lightweight. Two shots were enough for her.
“Really?” he asked. “Two shots and 10 beers is enough for me.”
She continued asking him questions, waiting for him to calm down.
“I hate drama,” he said, as 13 paramedics, firefighters and police personnel filed into the living room.
“I hate drama, too,” Lambley said.
His friend told Engle they couldn’t get him to calm down enough to go to bed, and he had become combative.
“He’s just really depressed over his girl,” he said to Engle.
Lambley asked if the young man planned to hurt himself. He said no.
The sad young man’s friend said they managed to walk him back to the house from several blocks away, but he was so drunk he kept falling. On the living room wall, there was a small smear of blood. The blood, his friend explained, came from his scrapes.
After 10 minutes of calming him down, Lambley asked the young man if he would be willing to go to the hospital with the paramedics.
“I can’t go,” he said. “Look at me. I’m in my boxers.”
“Thank you for wearing your boxers,” Lambley said. “Most people I deal with are naked.”
Once he stopped crying, she explained the paramedics were going to ask him some questions to make sure he was all right.
“When you’re depressed, alcohol is never a good idea,” Lambley said as she and Engle left the scene.
Some of the worst calls they respond to are suicide attempts, she said, which tend to increase when people are inebriated. The worst cases are when people try to “fillet” themselves.
“Fillet -- like you fillet a fish,” Engle said.
The worst alcohol-related call Engle ever responded to was a suicide attempt, he said. When he walked into the room, the iron smell of blood seemed to permeate from everywhere. The woman had tried to kill herself by cutting her wrists and throat.
“It was a lot of self-hatred,” he said.