Like all the other children of View Port turning five years old during 1997 Gordie is going off to school in the first week of February. The event isn’t as big a shock for him as it is for many others. He’s grown up in a clan residence with lots of cousins and siblings, so he’s very used to being with large numbers of other children. He has several cousins starting school with him, as well as a number of friends from around the town. His parents believe in socialising all their children, and have kept him involved with community activities relevant to his age group from his birth. So he knows a great number of the town children from the playground in the town square, and other pre-school activities.
The first few days of school are a bit hectic for everyone while they get used to where everything is and the school routines. As is his nature Gordie spends a lot of time finding the children who’re very nervous or new to the area and introducing them to the other kids. He helps many to settle into the new routines. By the end of the first week of school most of the children have worked out some friendship groups, but many are still in the ‘getting to know you’ stage. By the fifth week everyone is settled in with new playground friendships, and routines are becoming evident.
At lunchtime on Wednesday of the fifth week Gordie is sitting down talking to Melody Hilston. She’s very shy and only moved into town in the middle of last year. Gordie is trying to get her to be more outgoing, because he’s one of the only three children she’ll talk to. The bench seat they’re on is on the side of a small games area about four metres wide and is opposite the seat where his cousin, Peter, is sitting with another new kid, Alistair Sibley. The adult on playground duty in this area is Gordie’s medical technician, Janice Rogers, she’s standing at the corner of the building watching the children. Gordie isn’t really watching what’s happening across the way, but Melody gets nervous if he looks at her all the time, so he often glances over at the two boys opposite him. Most of the kids are running around or at the school shop, only a few have paired off and are starting to eat their lunches from home.
Gordie notices Peter and Alistair swap their sandwiches and start eating. Alistair is halfway through his third bite of lunch when he convulses and falls to the ground, he thrashes about. His face is already visibly swelling up. Gordie jumps up and yells for the adult supervisor. Janice runs over, and stares at Alistair. She kneels down and tries to hold him still. Gordie asks, “What’s wrong?”
Janice replies, “I don’t know, it could be an epileptic seizure. I just don’t know.”
There are no other adults in the immediate area, and the next sure place for an adult is a few minutes’ walk away. True to his training, Gordie does the best thing he can do right now. He pulls out his pocket radio communicator and hits the emergency alert. He waits for an answer. All the members of his family have one these communicators.
Jenny Smith is the radio operator in Clay Comm (the Claymore Command Communications Centre) on listening watch of the civilian emergency alert channel when the call signal beep occurs. She hits the button to initiate the triangulation of the call’s origin, and responds, “Clay Comm Emergency Desk, go ahead.”
The communication protocols are kept simple on this channel because they know they’ll be dealing with youngsters and civilians not trained in the proper protocols. But Gordie is well-trained in this area. On hearing a response he says, “Falcon Nine, medical emergency, View Port Primary School, East Playground. Code blue, code blue.”
Jenny replies, “Copy, medical emergency View Port Primary School, code blue. Help is on the way.” Having seen Jenny react to a message the shift supervisor links in. As soon as she hears the words ‘medical emergency’ she’s contacting the medical response team. They’re quick off the mark and are halfway out of the door in their ambulance before she can tell them where to go.
The ambulance is dashing through the town of View Port at high speed with its siren screaming. Arriving at the eastern side of the school concerned they exit the ambulance and head for the group of concerned looking people. The medical technicians are carrying everything they can think may be needed. Even with this heavy load the three people in the crew of paramedics are fast to race across the grounds to the scene of the emergency.
On seeing the ambulance arrive Gordie orders all of the other children back from the adult and child on the ground. They move back to give the ambulance crew room to work in.
Janice is fighting hard to hold Alistair still while she keeps saying, “I don’t know what it is, I don’t know!” Her voice is almost hysterical in its sound. The boy’s face and arms are very puffy and he’s beginning to choke when the three paramedics reach them.
One starts attaching sensors while another is breaking open cases to get equipment, and the third asks, “Did anyone see what happened?”
Gordie says, “Yes, Sir. He was taking the third bite of the sandwich he swapped for when he started having convulsions. His face is now much more bloated than before.”
The medical technician looks at Gordie, and asks, “Any idea of what the sandwich was?”
Gordie looks up at Peter, who says, “Yes, Nutella.”
The medical technician turns to the one with the drugs case, and says, “Flood him with antihistamines. It looks like an allergy reaction to nuts. And I do mean flood, by the look of him we haven’t much time, and have to really jolt the system.” Activating the radio link to the hospital the medical technician starts telling them about the situation. The other medical technician is fast to prepare a large needle, and injects Alistair’s left arm. He prepares another, and injects his right arm. He prepares an inhaler, and forces a gas down his throat. He looks at the medical technician monitoring the sensors. The fellow looks up, and shakes his head. Another heavy dose of gases into the mouth plus two more injections, into the thighs this time.
Gordie looks around, the principal has arrived and has another staff member leading Janice away. She’s still mumbling, “I don’t know what it is, I don’t know!”
Alistair stops breathing. The first medical technician swears while he straddles his chest, and applies external heart compression. The one on the monitors grabs a breather bag, and places it over Alistair’s mouth. He compresses the bag in time with the man on his chest. The third is fast injecting more drugs into all of Alistair’s limbs. A moment later Alistair starts breathing again. His face looks like the bloating is going down, and it’s reducing as fast as the trouble happened to begin with.
Five minutes later Alistair’s face is almost normal. He’s sore and coughing, but alive. One of the medical technicians goes back for the stretcher. A male teacher helps him get it over the fence.
They soon have Alistair placed on the stretcher, and are heading for the ambulance. A little later the ambulance is making a very quick, but not so fast, trip to the hospital. Alistair will get a full check up by the doctors at the hospital.
Looking around the group the principal can see these students aren’t going to be paying any attention in class this afternoon. They’re too excited by the events. After telling two teachers to supervise all the children in outdoor activities he asks what happened. Gordie tells him what he saw and did. The principal takes him back to the office to write it down. He’s very glad he has such a responsible student.
The principal rings Alistair’s mother, and tells her what’s happened. She heads to the hospital. He also rings the parents of the children who witnessed the incident to see if they can pick up their children, and he explains why to them. Within forty minutes all the children are collected by family members.
At the same time as Gordie is picked up, along with several cousins, Janice is taken to the hospital for a check-up and overnight observation. She’s in severe shock over the incident and her inability to do anything useful during it.