4:45am. I hit the snooze button, closing my eyes but remaining awake. 4:47am. I drag myself out of bed and walk into the bathroom. I hesitate, passing a mirror, and stare deeply into myself. The mirror fogs due to the scolding shower water. 6am and my tour is about to begin. I grab the tech bag, AED, tablet, radio, and keys all at once. I waddle my way toward the garage and search for bus 106. For once it’s one of the new ambulances. I take a sip of coffee, making sure everything is in check. My partner finally arrives. His name is Martin. Oddly tall, pale with short brown hair, and black sneakers. He’s the only guy in EMS that I know of that works with sneakers, but boy is he smart, book-wise.
We flip a coin to see who’s driving today. Tails, today I get to tech. I hop in the passenger seat and patiently wait for a call. Instead, we get a post. We make our way there and post up near a Dunkin Donuts. I close my eyes for about 5 minutes, almost falling asleep, until Martin begins to explain his life plan. He wants to go back to school and become a nurse, but he has to manage a way to pay for college. He had plan A and plan B. Plan A was to intentionally get himself fired in order to collect unemployment. Plan B was to quit and move back to Boston with his sister. I hesitated, contemplating on which plan to suggest.
We’re interrupted by our dispatcher. Our first call of the day. Martin puts the bus in drive, turning all the lights and sirens on. 8 minutes later we arrive at a small residence with a garden in front, filled with empty plant pots of all sizes. This little old lady opens the door. “Come come this way, it’s my grandson Dave. He’s not well,” she says . We walk toward the back of the house. There stands a slim man in his underwear with a polka dot umbrella singing Another One Bites The Dusts. My partner slowly glances at me and sighs. He shouts at the man, trying to gain his attention. “Sir, can you come with us? We need to take you to the hospital.” The man put his singing on pause only to sing louder, also adding a foot stomp. I shrug it off and take a shot at it. “Hey, Dave. Do you like rock and roll? It’s my favorite type of music.” Dave tilts his head and stops singing. He begins to laugh. I turn to my left and see his grandmother sitting on a broken stool laughing her heart out. Soon enough, we’re all laughing. Dave begins to walk with us, his grandmother following behind. We hop in the ambulance and drive away. Five miles later we arrive at the hospital. We assist Dave onto the ER stretcher and make our way back to the ambulance. His grandmother follows us out, shouting thank you.
We are officially 98, meaning available status. We’re both starving, so we decide to drive around and look for food until we are interrupted. A call to a residence for an unknown reason. Someone must have called 911 by mistake.
It’s an abandoned building, door slightly cracked open. I can feel the hair on my neck stand up. My heart is beating like a humming bird. We wheel the stretcher in and shout, “EMS. Is there anyone in here?” From the corner of my eye I can see a sneaker and some jeans peaking from a small room. There is a boy, no older than seventeen years old, laying supine on the floor. We rush over to him and asses him. He has a bullet wound through the temple of his head and his pulse is fading. I control the bleeding as much as I can while bagging him. We go lights and sirens to the nearest medical center. As I look into his eyes he takes an agonal breath. He no longer has a pulse He is no longer breathing. I begin CPR and watch the blood seep through the bandage. Martin finally pulls into the ER bay. He pulls the stretcher out while I continue compressions. Nearby, paramedics assist us into the emergency room. This kid is no longer in my hands. We clean up our stretcher and walk back toward the ambulance. I look at Martin and shake my head. He places his hand on my back. “So, how about that food?” I sigh. I have no choice but to get through this work day. 6 calls later and it’s time to go home. As soon as I reach my house I run into the bathroom and turn the shower on. I look into the mirror and stare deep into myself. This is the last face that kid saw. My face slowly fades into the foggy mirror. I set my alarm, plop onto my bed, and bury my head into my pillow.
It’s time to sleep, time to meditate with dreams, because sometimes nightmares only exist in reality.