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The Lesson

An Emergency Story by



The Lesson


Oh his head hurt, he could feel his pulse pounding as if it were a hammer hitting his head with each beat of his heart and the sound of the sirens wasn’t helping in the least.  He tried to open his eyes but they wouldn’t cooperate. He could feel both arms tucked in slings and tied across his chest and feel the knots of the triangular bandages against his neck pressed uncomfortably against his spine by the backboard he was laying on.

His legs felt strange, what was strange about them? They felt like, like well like they were tied up with pillows.  He must have broken every bone in his body. How did that happen? He couldn’t remember anything. Strange the only pain he could feel was in his head and his neck.

Oh god he must be paralyzed! He couldn’t feel anything because he’d broken his neck!  He couldn’t remember, what happened, how did he break his neck?

A hand was felt taking hold of his wrist followed moments later by it being placed on his diaphragm under the slings on his arms. Now wait a minute, he couldn’t be paralyzed, if that were the case then he wouldn’t be able to feel the slings on his arms and the pillows on his legs. How did he know all this stuff?

“Rampart, His pulse is up to a hundred and fifty, and his respirations are twenty five. We’re getting a few spontaneous movements in his fingers and toes.” A familiar sounding voice called out but he couldn’t place it. “We’re just around the corner we’ll be there in less than a minute.”

Again he tried to open his eyes and again they wouldn’t cooperate.  Who was that he could hear?

The sirens stopped and the pain in his head eased up just a little, kind of, maybe well maybe not. He could feel the vehicle he was riding in change directions and speed and then sensed it was backing up.  When the movement stopped there was a change in the light and movement of air.

“Okay, let’s move him. Careful, careful, easy does it, let’s get those wheels down. Easy, easy!”

He heard the groan escape from his mouth and tried to roll his head.  He was tied down to a back board with sandbags against both sides of his head preventing any form of movement. Still his eyes wouldn’t open.

“What the---, What happened to him?”


John Gage had been having a rough overtime shift. He had been called in after the paramedic on duty had been injured when a car clipped the one he was inside working on a patient, on his first run of the morning. He was going to be alright but had sustained a slight concussion and was sent home to the watchful eyes of his nurse wife. Johnny’s first run came in while he was in the locker room tucking in his uniform and he had yet to see the station again.

He and his temporary partner had just replaced their supplies used on the last run and were headed for the squad talking amongst themselves trying to decide whether or not to stop and get something to eat on the way back to the station when Squad 14 unloaded their patient from the ambulance.

The first thing that grabbed John’s attention was all the splints on the guy they were hauling through the double doors, none of them the standard issue splints found on every squad. One leg was splinted with two heavy quilts folded then wrapped around it and tied in place with strips of torn up sheets. The other leg was splinted with a couch cushion using a couple of neck ties, a scarf and two belts to hold it in place.

The multiple triangular bandages his arms were slung in were made from a flowered sheet that had been cut up and John could see that at least one arm was splinted with several sections of the newspaper on the forearm and a coloring book on the upper arm under the triangular bandages. The other arm had an IV started in the back of his hand.  Then his eyes found the guy’s face.

“What the---, What happened to him?” Johnny exclaimed handing the supplies in his hand to his temporary partner and going to the patient’s side.

“Roy! Roy can you hear me?” Dr. Bracket called loudly getting another groan and more attempts to move his head as Bracket pulled the pen light from his pocket and flicked it in the eyes of his unconscious patient.  Then looking up at the paramedic who brought him in, “Do we have any more information on what happened to him?”

“His daughter is pretty shook up all that we could get out of her was that she heard a crash and found him unconscious and when we asked her about the splints she just said her daddy told her to put them on and how to do it,” The paramedic reported. “I think he may have fallen down the stairs.”

“If he told her how to do all this he must have been conscious at one point.” Bracket figured from what he had been told, “His vitals don’t indicate shock, let’s get him in three.”

As a unit they started to move the gurney toward the treatment room and Roy moaned again and again tried to move his head against the restraints.

“Roy try not to move,” Johnny called out as he walked beside the gurney, “You’re at Rampart we’re going to fix you up.”

“J- J-John- Johnny,” Roy responded groggily to his partner’s voice as he made more of an effort to open his eyes.

John realizing that he was responding to his voice slipped his fingers under the hand with the IV in it, “Roy if you can hear me squeeze my hand.” 

Roy gave a good squeeze and Johnny looked up at Dr. Bracket with a quick nod of his head.

“JoAnne just called,” Dixie reported as she stepped in time with the group moving the gurney into the treatment room. “She just got home and the neighbor told her about her husband, she’s on her way here.  I told her that he just arrived and we don’t know anything yet.”

Once inside the treatment room Roy’s backboard was carefully moved over to the treatment table but still Bracket was confused by the lack of evident pain at the moving.

“J-Johnny?” Roy moaned again and tried to move his head against the restraints again.

“I’m right here Roy,” Johnny answered attentively.

“What hap…pened?”

“I don’t know Roy, I wasn’t there.” Johnny answered with some relieve as he saw his partner’s eyes opening just a sliver and turning toward his voice.

“Can you remember anything Roy?” Dr. Brackett called out, “Your daughter said that you told her to put these splints on and how to do it. Can you tell me why you needed that done?”

“Daught…?” Roy looked as confused as his words indicated as he closed his eyes again.

“Come on Roy stay with us,” Johnny coaxed and was rewarded by Roy opening his eyes again, a little wider this time.

“Roy, can you tell us where you hurt?” Brackett questioned.

“M My neck, a, and my h head,” Roy responded.

“Doc,” Johnny got his attention, “He’s got the triangular bandages knotted at the back of his neck. That’s got to be pretty miserable with that backboard and all. And if he does have a neck injury their surely not doing him any good.”

“I think your right Johnny,” Brackett winced. “Go ahead and cut them and then I’ll lift his head so that you can pull them out.”

Johnny pulled the bandage scissors from the pouch on his belt and carefully cut the end corner from the triangular bandages as Dr. Brackett moved to the back of Roy’s head and placed both hands at the side of his head.

“Okay Roy I want you to totally relax and let me do all the work,” Bracket instructed as he pulled traction and gently lifted the head ever so slightly.  Johnny carefully pulled the knotted material from under his friend’s neck.  As Bracket eased his head back down on the board Roy let out a sigh of relief.

“That’s a lot better,” Roy spoke still somewhat groggy and licked his dry lips, “now the only thing that hurts is my head.”

Both Johnny and Dr. Bracket sighed in cautious relief.

“I still want to get some x-rays of your neck before we take you off of the back board.”


“You’re going to glow in the dark before their through x-raying you this time. Are you sure you don’t remember why you told Jenny to splint your arms and legs?”

“Jenny?” Roy looked as confused as he sounded as Bracket moved to his feet where he slipped his hand inside the splints to check for a pulse in his ankles.

Suddenly Roy let out a moan and closed his eyes.

“I’m sorry Roy did I hurt you?” Bracket stopped with his hand still inside the couch cushion splint.

“Not hurt,” Roy’s face started to pink up, “Remember.” “I was teaching Jenny how to splint injured limbs, she went to get another belt from my closet when the phone rang.  I got up to go answer it and I lost my balance because of the splints.” Roy tried to move his hand toward his head but it was too tied down. “I must have hit my head.”

John and Brackett looked at each other with stunned expressions then back at Roy, “So none of these, , you’re not hurt under these splints?” Brackett questioned.

“I don’t think so,” Roy answered with a hint of embarrassment.

John and Brackett each let out a sigh of relief and started to chuckle when Dixie stuck her head in the door.

“X-ray is tied up in one on a motorcycle accident they’re going to be at least ten minutes, and JoAnne is here I put her and the kids in the Dr.’s lounge she’s pretty worried.”

“I’ll go talk to her,” Brackett responded with a chuckle, “Will you help Johnny here take these splints off and when x-ray gets here I want a full skull series and a C spine and if you find anything else that hurts when you’re taking the splints off have them x-ray that too.”

Brackett left the room as Dixie stepped forward, As soon as the door was closed behind him they could all hear a full out chuckle.  Roy turned pinker, Johnny gave one of his crooked smiles and Dixie just looked confused.

“Roy was giving his daughter a first aid lesson when he got up to answer the phone and stumbled on the splints and hit his head,” Johnny explained.

Dixie managed to hide a smile as she reached for a pair of bandage scissors and started cutting away at the triangular bandages that were binding Roy’s arms to his chest.  Johnny quickly cut through the torn sheets that were holding the quilts in place and was now taking a little more time to carefully untie the scarves and ties holding the couch cushion in place. 

“I thought you were going to wait a few years before you taught Jenny any more first aid?” Johnny commented to keep his partner talking as he worked to undo the very interesting knots Jenny had tied.

“I was,” Roy commented with a groan in his voice, “but after that bike accident last shift I got to thinking it might be a good idea to teach her some basic splints,” he flexed and rubbed his newly freed arms and hands. “And besides I didn’t feel like playing Barbie.”

Johnny chuckled in understanding and continued his work.


After the doctor had examined the x-rays JoAnne and her children were led into the treatment room to find Roy resting with the head of his bed raised and an ice pack on his head.  Jenny was helped to climb up in his arms for a hug as JoAnne took hold of his hand and stood relieved that her husband was going to be alright.  Chris stood at his mother’s side with one hand on his father’s leg the other on his mother’s back trying to comfort her.

“Well the x-rays look good,” Dr. Bracket spoke up, “He was however unconscious for a significant period of time so I would like to keep him overnight for observation.”

“What some husbands won’t do to get out of mowing the lawn,” JoAnne teased.

“Oh and Roy,” Bracket again called for his attention. “In the future, any young lady who is capable of applying splints so fabulously is very capable of bringing the phone to her daddy.”

“I’ll remember that,” Roy grinned.





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