by Bryce Beattie
© 2008 Bryce Beattie
To Aurora, who encourages me to write, even when it’s about zombies.
I pulled on a fresh pair of nitrile gloves, jogged down to the ambulance-only entrance, and braced myself for the worst.
The door slid open and three paramedics surrounding a gurney flew into the hallway that led to the ER. A tiny, wrinkled hand reached up and swatted at the oxygen mask one of the paramedics was trying to hold over her mouth. “Don’t let me die.” The paramedic swiftly but gently replaced the mask. “You’re going to be okay, ma’am. Just leave this on.”
I jogged up alongside them and pointed. “Room three. What do we have?”
The lead EMT turned the gurney. “Patient was hit by a car about thirty five minutes ago. Probable concussion, possible internal damage in the thoracic cavity, and of course you can see that compound fracture of the left femur.”
My eyes flicked down, but the third paramedic held a large pad of blood-soaked gauze over the wound site.
The old woman grabbed that paramedic’s arm and sobbed. “Don’t let me die.”
“We haven’t been able to hold her down long enough to set an IV.”
We slowed the procession to allow the second set of automatic doors to open.
I pointed again, even though the EMTs knew where to go. “Vitals?”
“As of two minutes ago, oxygen at eighty seven, blood pressure down to eighty five over fifty five, heartbeat way up to one twenty one.”
That’s no good. “Why do you suspect the internal damage?”
“She coughed up some blood on the way over.”
We turned the gurney and jammed the procession down a short hall and through the extra-wide doors of patient room number three. Two more nurses stood waiting inside, all gloved up and ready to do some emergency medicine.