Patient # 1 sat in a kitchen chair, but the chair had had it, unable to bear her weight. It collapsed. Luckily for our patient, the floor broke her fall, but she did strike her head and hurt her neck and back. Fortunately for us, she was ambulatory, and we helped her to the ambulance.
She was in a lot of pain, and as we assessed her vital signs a car sped up to us, two men rushed to the back doors and frantically banged away. A girl was stabbed, they said, and bleeding.
We helped her into the ambulance, and she was indeed stabbed, a centimeter wound on the left side of her back. How deep? I don’t know.
She sat on the bench, I started some oxygen and we got moving. Her heart rate was in the 130’s, blood pressure decent but had diminished lung sounds on her left side. I’ve seen stabbing victims circle the drain, and circle the drain quickly. The girl was sixteen, and told us the same people that stabbed her cousin last week snuck up behind her and “got me.”
Her tough facade deflated like most illusionary means of survival are wont to do when somebody else puts a hole in it, and tears held back for god knows how long exploded from her eyes.
Bodily fluids have different reactions on me, blood doesn’t bother me much, I hate puke, piss isn’t all that bad, and it doesn’t get much worse that shit; but tears?
Tears are the worst. I’d rather deal with puke , blood and piss.
I stood in the well next to the bench, applied pressure to the wound and tried to think how best to proceed should she crash, but fortunately she didn’t, and the fifty-three year old lady who had collapsed her chair took over, and held the young girl’s hand, and said some soothing things as we bounced along.
Strange, wonderful moments of grace come along when I least expect it, two women of different generations forced together in the back of an overheated ambulance in the West End pulled together, and found some tenderness in an ugly world.
A Hispanic girl, a black lady and a white guy found some common ground in a cramped space, blood, tears, pain and sweat mixing together to form a short lived bond, and we made the best of a bizarre situation and did the best we could.
We survived, the girl went to surgury, the lady was treated and released and I went to Rescue 1 for the next shift, taking with me the knowledge that kindness has a place in this crazy world called Providence.