When paramedics face life-and-death scenarios, they're typically trying to rescue from other people from doom.
But during a call last Friday, Cameron Padbury and his colleagues from Alabama's Regional Paramedical Services put their own lives on the line as well.
A 62-year-old man was trying to disassemble what he assumed was a novelty round from a grenade when the gunpowder fired the round into his thigh, WBRC-TV in Birmingham, Alabama, reported. The emergency call was for a man with shrapnel in his leg — soon Padbury learned there was a live grenade round in there, too.
Nevertheless, Padbury and two other paramedics stayed with the patient for eight hours, refusing to leave him even though they knew an explosion could end it all for them, the station said.
After Padbury got to the hospital at the University of Alabama Birmingham, he learned it couldn't admit the patient because explosives aren't permitted inside, WBRC reported. So they had to park the ambulance a safe distance from the hospital while police closed off streets and got the bomb squad ready... just in case.
Meanwhile a bomb expert from Ft. Benning, Georgia, arrived via police escort and a surgeon from the hospital headed to the ambulance to conduct surgery in an altogether atypical operating room.
The surgeon opened the back of the patient's thigh and the bomb technician pulled out the 40mm grenade and disassembled it, WRBC said.
"The patient thanked me a lot," Padbury told WBRC; the patient was in stable condition Monday, the station added.
Upon his arrival at work Monday, Padbury's fellow paramedics serenaded him with the song "Hero" as he made his way through the door, WRBC said. "I expect I'm going to get some kidding about this for awhile," he added.
And the hero mantle?
Said Padbury: "No, just doing my job."