The scene is, in a word, chaotic. Fire trucks, police cars, a rescue unit, and now my dinky Jap pickup truck are strewn along the side of the highway as officers reroute traffic in a procession of bright fluorescent eyes to side roads. A ring of responders, some of who I have known for years from working in Backwater, circle a body lying in the roadway. A firefighter sees my vest, and pats me on the shoulder.
"He's 10-7, bro."
I smile and keep walking toward the group and shoulder my way in as I slip on gloves. I've been going on the fire department page-outs for medicals for about 6 months now and they always seem to be happy to see me. No paramedics work for the paid/volly service that serves Backwater City so they have no ALS providers on scene - the ambulances summoned to the scene aren't there yet.
(Acutally, a point of contention of mine with mangament, XXXX EMS has a contract with Backwater Parish in which they are REQUIRED to have two ALS units in the parish limits at all times; the dispatchers don't commonly adhere to this policy. Which means that, when some poor bastard gets smoked by a Cavalier on the state highway, there's going to be a longer response time as the units scramble from one or two parishes over. There's going to be some interesting points made at the next business meeting between XXXX EMS and Backwater parish council. But, I digress.)
The thing in the road does not immediately resemble a human body and looks more like an abused side of beef wearing a sweatshirt. There's a lot of blood, but no breathing. An elderly firefighter is crouching near the body, and looks up at me. He shakes his head as he feels for a pulse
"Oh, hey MM! I don't feel anything. We're about to call the coroner. His shoes are over there." He points to a spot about 60 yards up the highway.
"No problem," I say. "You mind if I double check?" The ring is beginning to dissipate as firefighters go back to their various vehicles.
"Sure! Suit yourself."
I crouch down to the body. The legs are jigsawed in different directions with large dark stains over the lower parts. The right arm is parallel to the head and the left is near my boot - both seem fractured. And his hand is bleeding....rather profusely?
I press my hand to the man's neck. Faint but regular, I feel a ticking sensation.
I immediately stand up. "I've still got a pulse"
Just probably not for very much longer, I think to myself.
The sudden pronouncment of life causes several pairs of eyebrows to raise, and several pairs of lips to mutter "Oh, shit!"
I grab the closet firefighter and tell them to grab a BVM and airway plus a spineboard and collar, and contact our dispatcher to tell them to send a chopper. A State Trooper walks over to me.
"What the hell is going on?"
"He's still got a pulse, trooper."
I turn back to the elderly firefighter who looks at me with a sheepish smile.
"Heh, guess I was wrong, huh?"
I pat him on the shoulder. "Don't sweat it. Was anybody else injured?"
He points to a sedan a little farther up the roadway. "They had some kids in the car. The windshield came in when they hit him."
The thing at my feet, with this much tramua, is really more an "it" than a "him" at this point, but I don't correct him. I thank him and jog over the sedan. A family of 5 looks at me and the body with wide eyes, uncomprehending.
As I draw near, one of the kids starts crying. "I thought he was dead," says the mother. "They say he was dead."
"Ma'am, we're going to do what we can for him. Can you tell me if you're hurting anywhere?"
Putting on a fresh pair of gloves I snag I quickly triage the family. No one seems to be hurt, other than minor scratches. I tell them to sit tight. A quick look at the sedan reveals massive damage. It appears they struck the man with the direct center of the vehicle, causing him to dent the hood, shatter in the windshield, and roll over the top. As I walk back over to the man, who is now nearly immobilized and receiving BVM ventilation, the ambulance crew rolls up. I busy myself with assissting the responders. A shadow looms over me. The medics are standing there, neither one with a bit of gear on them, stretcher still inside the unit.
"What are ya'll doing?" asks the medic, obviously confused. "They said he was dead."
"He's not dead yet," I say. "He's got a pulse."
The medic looks at me and then back at the body. "Bullshit."
"Check for yourself."
The medic leans over laborously, and touches his neck.
I stand up and strip off my sweaty gloves, and grab the EMT by his arm. "Get your stretcher ASAP. Let's get this dude out of here."
A fire lights under the asses of the crew and they do their best to step it up. We get the man loaded in the back of the unit. His pressure is low but the pulse is still regular, although he is not breathing.
We cut off the man's clothes and the EMT gags for a second. The man's lower legs look like he stepped on a mine. Bone and muscle and skin are twisted and frayed and mixed into something nearly unrecognizable as human. Incredibly, a completely intact and empty gin bottle is in the man's pocket. I have no idea how it didn't shatter.
The ambulance departs the scene shortly, with an flight medic from the air service onboard that had landed on scene as we loaded up. Right before I step out of the back, they lose the pulse.
I watch the ambulance shrink and the red lights go dim as they roar to the hospital.
The State Trooper walks up to me.
"Why didn't they fly him?" he asks.
"Lost a pulse. Easier to do CPR and ventilations with 3 people in an ambulance than 2 in a chopper.
"CPR? I thought you said he had a pulse."
I unzip my vest and start walking up to my dinky Jap pickup. "He did."