Nicolas Cage's Healing Hands Saved A Shooting Victim
In 1999, a resident of Los Angeles was hit by a bullet in a drive-by shooting. Actually, around 2,000 residents of Los Angeles were hit by bullets in drive-by shootings, but we're talking today about one of them. We don't know his name, but we do know that around half of these shooting victims were innocent bystanders, and like over half of victims, this one was shot in the leg, so you can use that info when picturing him in your mind.
The ambulance came, and EMTs moved him into the vehicle, assisted by someone who wasn't actually a paramedic. This someone did blend in with them though because, like them, he wore a bulletproof vest. Before they strapped an oxygen mask on him, the teenage shooting victim said, "Can somebody take the gum out of my mouth?" The not-paramedic did so, then applied the mask. The guy looked like Nicolas Cage, so much that the shooting victim thought this was a hallucination.
He wasn't hallucinating. Nicolas Cage was riding with the emergency medical team in preparation for his role as an EMT in Martin Scorsese's Bringing Out the Dead. You might say that, were Cage not in the ambulance, an actual paramedic would have removed the gum, so the victim would have been saved from choking either way. But we have our doubts about whether the victim would have survived without Cage—indeed, we doubt any of us would have survived without Cage.
Cage spent several days riding with crews in both Los Angeles and New York to get a feel for his character. Some sights during those days were harrowing, like the eight-month-old baby who couldn't breathe, or a motorcycle accident that briefly put Cage off riding his own bike. Others were weird in a very different way.
While he was touring a hospital, a doctor recognized him and wanted to show off. He beckoned Cage into the OR and performed a resuscitative thoracotomy. That's when the doctor cracks open a patient's chest to expose the heart. "Pretty good, huh?" said the doctor, as blood spilled everywhere. "What do you think of that, Nic?" Nic started laughing, in an attempt to stop from fainting.
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Top image: Paramount Pictures