The Toxic Balloon

What Are Risk Scenarios?

Each Risk Scenario consists of two parts — The Scenario and The Analysis.

Part 1: The Scenario (15 minutes) Read The Scenario and answer integrated poll questions that solicit your approach to the situation. The Scenario is based on hypothetical situations that showcase emerging risks.

Part 2: The Analysis Benchmark your responses against other participants, access relevant Risk & Insurance articles, review curated resources from the web and learn about existing products.

Disclaimer: The events depicted in this scenario are fictitious. Any similarity to any corporation or person, living or dead, is merely coincidental.

It was 9:30 p.m. on a sweltering Miami night.

The emergency medical response team had just pulled into the parking lot of the Maki Madness pickup sushi restaurant when their scanner went off.

“Attention all northwest emergency medical personnel, we have a one-car accident involving a late model Pontiac Bonneville near the intersection of Opa Locka Boulevard and Northwest 135th Street. Victim is a large Hispanic male with a head injury. The victim is conscious, but believed to be intoxicated, possible drug user, please advise as to proximity and availability …over.”

Patty Broomhilde, the ambulance’s driver, snatched up the radio transmitter before her partner, medical technician Rick Cornell, could grab it.

“Unit 457 responding, we are in that vicinity, we’ll take it, over…”

Patty rolled her eyes at Rick and wheeled the ambulance around. Their much-anticipated Miami Maki rolls with stone crab, yellow tail and avocado would have to wait.

Rick, who wasn’t supposed to smoke on duty, had a cigarette on the way over to help temper his appetite.


That very same evening, Rick’s older brother Petey, a hard drinking blues guitarist, pulled out of the Purple Rose, a Miami waterfront blues club. To most guys, three beers was plenty. Petey had four in him already, plus two shots of 100-proof bourbon. Petey gunned the engine on his Harley, and with a cigarette in his mouth and his guitar strapped to his back, motored out of the parking lot and onto a busy two-lane road.

Petey wore his blond hair long and he didn’t even own a helmet. The draft from a passing truck whipped his ponytail into his eyes for just a second. Petey, buzzed from the booze, took his right hand off of the bike to clear his vision and temporarily lost control just long enough for the Harley to swerve into the path of a landscaper’s pickup that was hauling a trailer. The truck caught Petey and his bike and t-boned him. Petey was killed almost instantly.


The emergency medical team was only two blocks from the scene of the Pontiac accident when they heard sharp scanner chatter about a fatal involving a motorcyclist who wasn’t wearing a helmet.

“Wouldn’t want that one,” Patty said stoically as she slowed down to where the wine-red Pontiac had slammed into a telephone pole.

There was steam coming up from the Pontiac’s engine and the smell of gasoline was strong.

Rick got out of the unit first and ran to get close. The odor of marijuana and brandy in the car almost eclipsed the smell of gas.

¡Dónde le duele! ¡Dónde le duele! (Where does it hurt?)” Rick shouted at the driver, who had blood streaming from a cut on his forehead.

Me duele la cabeza,” said the driver.

¿Le duele otra parte de su cuerpo? (Does anything else hurt?)” Rick said.

“Nah…nah…jus’ my head,” the driver said, switching inexplicably to English and letting a bleary, stoned smile cross his face.

Rick had to move the driver now based on the information he had. There was too much risk that the car could explode with that much gas coming out of it.

He reached in under the driver’s arm pits and started to move him. The man’s t-shirt was soaked with blood and he was hot and sweaty. This was going to be tough!

Rick set his feet and pulled. The man came with him.

Rick grunted. He was strong but this guy weighed a ton.

Rick was still bearing most of the man’s weight when he felt something pop in his lower back and a buzzing, sickening pain shot down his left side and into his leg.

“Ahhh…cripe,” Rick said as the patrolman and Patty came to his aid and they all brought the injured driver fully out of the car. Rick didn’t let go of the driver despite his pain.


Rick was sitting in the waiting room of a general medicine practice waiting for his X-Ray results when he got the phone call from Petey’s friend Buddy.

Petey and Rick weren’t exactly close. They came from a dysfunctional family. But your brother is your brother.

Petey had always done his best to look out for Rick. Now Buddy was saying Petey was gone. His death hit Rick deep inside.

A partially ruptured disc was the word the doctor gave Rick that day. Along with that news he gave Rick prescriptions for hydrocodone, a semi-synthetic opioid, tramadol, a synthetic pain reliever, ibuprofen and metaxalone, a muscle relaxant.


As the weeks rolled by, Rick, off work now, tried to make a go of it in physical therapy and by sticking to his prescribed medications.

But the combination of his injury, not working his job and Petey’s death was wearing on him. He felt like he was down and couldn’t get up.

His back injury was extremely painful, it felt like someone, or something, was driving a knife into his lower back at times. Sometimes the jolts of pain would hit him so bad he would collapse and fall to the floor.

Rick didn’t much like spending time around doctors, but he felt so down he sought out his group health plan doctor for help with the sleeplessness and the depression he was experiencing.

“Are you on any medications?” the doctor said.

“No,” Rick said.

Rick left that doctor with prescriptions for Prozac, an anti-depressant and Ambien, a sleep aid.

“Why did I just lie about that?” he asked himself.

In that moment, he had no answer.

When one of your employees suffers a compensable injury, how soon in the process do you screen that employee for a predisposition to opioid addiction?

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