Arthur is making up the stretcher by the linen cart just inside the ER doors. “I’m going down to the cafeteria to get a sandwich,” he says, as he tightens the last strap. “You want anything?”
“No, I’m good. I just have to get times and drop off my report.”
I end up getting in a conversation with a doctor, and so its a good ten minutes later when I come back down the hall. I pass a stretcher and the linen cart on my way out to the ambulance, where I find Arthur eating the last of his sandwich.
“Get enough to eat?”
“Yes, thank you,” he says. “Not a bad sandwich for $2.25. Ready to clear?”
He clears us on the radio and they post us at the hospital
We stay put. Arthur does the crossword puzzle, while I read my book.
About fifteen minutes later, we get a call. “857. Main and Pershing for the MVA. Priority One.”
Arthur repeats the address, hits the lights on and we roll.
The Fire Department arrives just ahead of us. We get out to inspect the two cars and their occupants. Its a legitamite accident, nothing dramatic, but enough of an impact to take any complaint seriously. One man is up and walking about. He says his shoulder hurts. There is another man behind the steering wheel, who is claiming neck pain. The driver of the other car says he is all right.
“I’ll get the stretcher,” I say to Arthur.
I walk around to the back of the ambulance and open up the doors. I stare in the back. There is no stretcher.
Maybe the fire guys pulled it, I think. They do that sometimes.
I walk back to the cars. I see Arthur and four fire guys standing around. No one has the stretcher.
“Come with me,” I say to the guy with shoulder pain. I walk him around to the back of the ambulance and help him in. I have him sit in the captain’s chair. “I’ll be right back.”
I get a board, collar, headbed and straps and walk them over to Arthur. “Board and collar this guy,” I say, “and then carry him around to the back of the ambulance.”
“Where’s the stretcher?”
I stare at him a moment. “Don’t ask.”
I see the glint of recognition that comes into his eyes then.
“Just board him and bring him around. He’s not too big.”
I’m in the back with the other patient when a few minutes later, Arthur and the fire guys carry the now boarded patient around to the back. I take the head end as they hand the patient in, and we lay the boarded patient up on the bench seat.
The four fire guys are standing looking in at the back of the ambulance. They look perplexed.
“Thanks guys,” I say, and shut the doors. “Let’s get out of here,” I call to Arthur.
When we get to the hospital, Arthur goes in and comes back out with the stretcher. We load it in the back, transfer the patient on the bench seat onto the stretcher, then pull him out. I get a wheel chair for the guy with shoulder pain. We wheel them both in.
“Sorry,” Arthur says later. “I must be getting old.”
“Happens to the best of us.”
“We’ll keep this between ourselves?”
“We will never speak of it again,” I say.