Here's Part One...
The sun is out.
Not one of those days where it beats down on the truck all day and we go home with one-armed sunburns, thank God. Instead we're blessed with 80 degrees and a constant breeze. Nature's air conditioner.
"We need a frisbee, McHottie." He grunts, not even opening his eyes. He's using a book as a pillow.
I should try that. I can't get comfortable in the front of the truck. I've padded the voids with bath blankets... I've shifted positions countless times. I hate not having a station to go home to when we have down time. We're posted in a parking lot on the side of a book store. We're hiding.
"Unit 120, One-Two-Oh..."
I reach for the mic. "One Twenty, go."
"You have a One pm pick up from a private residence on Hudson, going to Ortho Clinic at Our Lady of the Spiral Fracture. Time out, 1230."
"One Twenty is clear and enroute." I set the mic down and look at McHottie with an insane grin on my face.
"What are you smiling about Epi?" He's rubbing his eyes as he shifts the truck into drive.
"We're going to get Emily."
The truth is, they inspire me. They are some of the bravest patients out there.
Put an adult and a kid with the same ailment in identical ambulances.
The kid will clutch their SpongeBob Squarepants blanket and ask a ton of questions about the equipment.
The adult will whine about the temperature, demand a drink of water, ask you to carry their suitcases, inquire about getting a ride home, possibly swing at you, then bitch about the bumpy ride.
Like I said. I love the kiddies. And Emily is my favorite.
McHottie pulls the truck up outside of Emily's house on Hudson Street.
Any time I get to go back to my old neighborhood I get a smile on my face. I have so many memories from my childhood that involve a five block radius. Learning to rollerskate at the Board of Education parking lot, Learning to ride my bike down the sidewalk (and simultaneously learning where all the cracks were that would put me horizontal), going to the carnival on Manhattan, playing hide and go seek with my friends... It's been almost 12 years since I lived on Hudson. Time has not been kind to the block, but the memories remain.
"One twenty's on the scene," I toss the mic down and reach for the gloves, those beautiful purple gloves, the gloves that keep me from breaking out into a rash. How I love those gloves. There are a total of five steps leading to Emily's house. We navigate them carrying the empty cot with no problem. Dodging the small children and the toys on the front porch proves slightly more difficult, but manageable. They're ridiculously cute. And curious. The little one wears pig tails and reminds me instantly of my little girl. “Are you here for Emily?”
I pause long enough to answer her. I wish I could stay and play with their Barbie dolls.
“Come on Epi, We're running a little late.” McHottie gently prods me with the cot.
“What, you don't want to stay and play with dolls? Don't lie now.”
He rolls his eyes at me. I'm getting used to his violent eye rolls. Apparently I have this effect on my partners.
The house is warm. There are fans set up everywhere. Emily is laying in her bed in the livingroom. SpongeBob is on. Emily LOVES SpongeBob.
“Well HEY there, Princess, how are you?” McHottie's face lights up at the sight of her. We really do love this kid.
“I know you!” She squeals in the cutest eight year old voice known to man. She's clearly psyched to see McHottie. “And YOU! I know you too!”
“Yep, remember? I'm McHottie and this is Epi... She's going to be in back with you today, is that okay?”
“Oh Yes. Yes Yes YES!”
“Emily, will you finally let me sign that cast?”
We make small talk with Emily and her Mother while we we untuck her sheets and move her over to our stretcher. She's impressed that I have seen the episode of SpongeBob that's on. SpongeBob has just gotten canned for his addiction to karate.
I lean down and whisper a secret in her ear. “Hey, Emily? I'm not really a grownup. I'm really nine years old. Don't tell anyone okay?” Her brown eyes are huge. She puts a finger over her lips and nods her head.
"What's that? Is that what you use to listen to someone's heart? What's in there?" Emily is non-stop questions.
"That is what we call suction. When I turn it on it gets really loud and makes this slurping noise." I make the sound of slurping the last ounce of soda out of that McDonalds cup.
Emily starts giggling. The giggling turns into a belly laugh when I stick my tongue out at her.
"You have a lot of stuff back here, don't you?"
I've given up on filling out my Patient Care Report and shove it under the head of the stretcher. She's laying there in a full body cast with names scribbled across it. From what I can see it's the ENTIRE staff in Peds at Toledo Hospital. There are several coworker's names on it as well.
"Yes, we do. We use it to help people."
"You save a lot of lives, don't you." It's not a question, it's a statement. Emily's eyes focus on mine. She's in awe of me. I don't want to disappoint her, but I don't want to lie to her either.
"Emily, we work hard to help as many people as we can." It's the best I can do.
Her smile grows. "You guys are like superheroes, aren't you?" Again, a statement. Not a question.
My heart melts. "Baby, we do our best."
McHottie yells from the front of the truck. "Tell her we can't be superheroes because we don't have capes. Tell he she has to make us a few capes."
I relay the message and Emily laughs again.
"Will you sign my cast?"
"I'd be honored to." I remove a sharpie from my pocket and sign it.
To the bravest girl I know. We *heart* you. Epi
We dropped Emily and her Mother off at the Ortho Clinic. They had a bed for her so we couldn't justify waiting for her. The boards were insane that day, and dispatch had two runs lined up for us after Emily's.
As we were getting ready to leave I found out that they were going to be removing Emily's cast that day. She was going to be free. I never did find out why she was in the cast, all I know is that she has Cerebral Palsy and that she was going to be spending eight weeks in that cast. Her Mother was very young and didn't understand a lot of the medical jargon being lobbed her way. The facility supplied us with even less information.
We keep hoping to get paged to a run from her house for some appointment, but that run hasn't come yet.
I'm both grateful and a little sad about it.
I miss her, you see. She's one of the reasons why I do the job I do.