"Ambulance six at Speer and Broadway."
"Ambulance six respond to Le Crepe restaurant at 14th and Larimer on a party short of breath."
"14th and Larimer. Copy and en route."
"Watch for Pumper-1 responding with you."
We were less than two minutes away. The pumper crew should have the story by the time we arrived. As soon as we pulled up I grabbed the bag and headed inside with my partner while the firefighters brought the stretcher. The Captain met us at the door and reported a young female was having an apparent allergic reaction and was barely able to breath. When I got to her side, she was supine on the floor, wheezing audibly, her color was ashen and her lips were cyanotic. The firefighters were just getting the oxygen on her.
Bending over her so she could see my face, I asked, "Are you able to talk?"
She shook her head 'no'. The poor girl was terrified.
I listened to her chest with my stethoscope and verified she was barely moving air. Respiratory arrest was imminent if we didn't fix it quickly. "What's her pressure?' I asked my partner.
"Systolic is 58 and the monitor shows bradycardia at 32."
Damn, I thought. Her heart's about to poop out.
While my partner was trying to get an IV started, I leaned down and took her face in my hands to make her look at me. "Miss, my name's Kevin. I'm a paramedic. I need to do something to make it easier for you to breathe. Do you understand?" Her eyelids were at half-mast but she nodded her head.
"OK, Miss, listen to me. I'm going to pass a plastic tube through your nose and into your airway. It's going to be very uncomfortable for you but it's important that you don't fight me, OK? As you feel the tube entering your nose, just keep swallowing. Do you understand?"
She didn't respond at all this time. She was loosing consciousness and I needed to move quickly. I took a 6.5 ET tube out of my bag and smeared the end with lidocaine gel. Tilting her head slightly forward, I passed the tube through the nostril and into her throat. She didn't even flinch; she was out. Her efforts to breathe were weak but still effective enough that by putting my ear to the end of the tube, I could follow the sound of her breath to the opening to the larynx. On the next inhalation, I pushed it through, advanced it down into her trachea and inflated the cuff with ten cc's of air. A firefighter already had the bag hooked up to the O2 and ready to go. I began to inflate her lungs but I was pushing against a lot of resistance.
"Her veins are collapsed," my partner said. "I can't get a line in her. Should I give her .5 of epi sub-q?"
"I don't think her circulations is good enough to disperse it. Give me 10 cc's, I'll push it down the tube." I squirted the epinephrine down the tube and continued to inflate her lungs. Gradually, the resistance eased and I was able to get more air into her. I checked the cardiac monitor and saw that her heart rate was picking up and was now at 86. As her brain began to re-perfuse, she started to wake up and began coughing against the tube in her throat.
As her eyes focused on my face I said, "Miss, you're starting to breathe better now. Do you understand?" She nodded her head.
"I know you don't like this tube in your throat but we need to leave it in place until we get to the hospital."
Turning to the fire crew, I said, "OK, guys. Let's get her into the ambulance. Captain, thanks for you help. Good work as usual. Have one of the waitresses put this girl's meal in a carry-out carton so we can get it analyzed for allergens at the hospital."
By the time we arrived at the emergency department, the patient was fully conscious. I gave my report to the triage nurse as we moved her into a treatment room. The Doc quickly auscultated her chest and confirmed she was moving air well and her level of consciousness was good. She leaned down to the patient and said, "Miss, you're doing OK now. We're going to take this tube out and it may make you want to vomit." The cuff was deflated and the tube removed without too much discomfort.
I breathed a little sigh of relief. "OK, Doctor Haddad, I'll go write my report."
"Thanks, Kevin. Nice work!"
The rest of my shift passed without anything nearly as intense. I turned the rig over to the next crew and headed through the ER on my way to the parking lot. As I passed one of the treatment rooms, a hoarse, raspy voice called "Kevin!" I looked in and saw it was the young lady with the allergy. She was sitting up, dressed in one of the hospital's high-fashion gowns and looking so much better with some color in her cheeks and some life in her eyes.
"Hi! Glad to see you're doing so well. Are they going to cut you loose pretty soon?"
"Yeah, when my mom gets here to pick me up." She could only speak in a whisper; pretty common after having a tube pushed through your vocal cords. "Doctor Haddad said you saved my life. I just wanted to thank you. I wish there was some way I could show my appreciation."
"You're more than welcome. It's what we do."
"I know, but I want to say thank you anyway. My name is Millie," she smiled holding out her hand. "Doctor Haddad told me your first name but she said it was against policy to give out full names."
I took the offered hand. "Yeah, it's just a way to help keep our work in the workplace. You know, a certain level of anonymity. My last name is Mendel. What's the allergy that caused all this?"
"I'm allergic to iodine. I didn't order anything with seafood but there must have been some in what I ate. I intend to see that the restaurant pays all my medical expenses."
"I doubt you'll get much of an argument from them, Millie, especially if they're looking at a possible big, fat law suit. Well, I'm really happy to see you're doing so well. Nothing personal but I hope we don't meet again." It's an old joke in the business but it gets a laugh anyway.
I left and headed home by way of the Red Garter bar for a couple of beers and some socializing. I was hoping Darla, one of the ER nurses would be there. We've been close friends for years and sometimes she's amenable to a tumble in the hay if I look like I'm pathetically in need. We'd been an item at one time but wound up deciding mutually that, while we loved the sex, living in the same space didn't suit either of us. I asked Luis, the bartender if he'd seen her and he said she was going to be out of town for a few days attending a trauma conference. It looked like a quiet night ahead.
After my shift the next afternoon, I was on my way to the parking lot across the street from the hospital when someone called my name. I looked around and saw a young lady waving to me as she got out of her car and crossed the street. It took me a few seconds to place the face ... it was Millie, the girl with the allergy.
"Millie! Hi, how are you feeling? I see you got your voice back." She was wearing jeans and a pale yellow tank top, both of which she filled out very nicely. Really a great looking girl with short-cropped black hair, beautiful pale blue eyes and a face you might see in a fashion ad. Add a few freckles across her nose.
"Yeah, just a little sore throat but, believe me, I'm not complaining," she laughed. "Kevin, I'm really glad I caught you. I was wondering if you'd like to come over to my place for dinner some time." She saw the hesitation in my face. "Umm, you could bring your girl friend or your wife or whoever. I just wanted to show my appreciation somehow."
"I don't have either, Millie. It's not that, but it is kind of an ethical dilemma for me. Let me explain. What you went through yesterday was a terrible thing, physically and emotionally very challenging. It's not uncommon for someone who went through what you did to feel a strong attachment to anyone who helped them through it, but it can make them emotionally vulnerable. If it was perceived by anyone that I somehow took advantage of that vulnerability, not only would I feel terrible about it, I could lose my job. Believe me, if I had met you under any other circumstances, I would have been wracking my brain to come up with a way to get to know you a lot better. I can't tell you how much it means to me to hear you express you thanks, it rarely happens in this business, but I have to say no thank you to your invitation."
She looked just a little bit put out. "Is that a rehearsed speech?" she asked mildly.
"No, Millie, it's not. Please don't think I'm being patronizing and please don't be angry with me. I happen to think you are a very attractive woman in every way and the temptation to take you up on your offer strains my limits, but it just wouldn't be right, not this soon after your ordeal. If you baked cookies for me, I'd gladly accept them and share them with my partner and the pumper crew who were also there to help pull you out of a disaster."
After thinking about it for a few seconds, Millie sighed and then smiled. "My dad's a lawyer, Kevin, so I've been taught all about 'the perception of impropriety'. I can see now how my invitation might put you in a tight spot. I just want you to know that I'll never forget what you did. Thanks again for giving me back my life." She leaned forward and kissed my cheek, then turned and ran back across the street to her car.
A week later I walked into the office to check my mailbox before my shift. The Chief saw me come in and waved me into his office. "Kevin, that box there on the chair is for you. A real knockout of a woman brought it in yesterday afternoon and asked me to make sure you got it, so, there you are."
"Thanks, Chief. Did she leave a message or say who she was?"
"No, but I told her you'd be on duty today if she wanted to see you. She said it was too soon, whatever that means."
When we got to the firehouse, the Captain on Pumper-1 laughed and said we were too late because Millie had dropped off a box of cookies for them as well. What a sweetheart.
My day went rapidly downhill after that. Our first call was to the east side of the city on a domestic dispute with possible weapons involved. These are the calls emergency responders dread the most because we never have any idea what we're going to walk in on. Two police units pulled up to the scene at the same time we did. Our policy is to wait outside while the police make initial contact and then enter if we're needed. There was a lot of screaming from inside, then a voice, presumably a cop, shouted "Drop the weapon!" At the same time I heard the gunshots, the front window of the house blew out and I felt like I'd been kicked in the chest by a mule, falling back against the side of the ambulance. When my partner turned around to see what had happened, his eyes got like saucers. "Holy shit, Kevin, you've been shot!" I looked down and saw a hole had been punched in my white shirt just under my right clavicle. The pain hadn't really kicked in yet but I knew I was in trouble.
"Shit! Call for a second ambulance, Jerry! And get an IV started on me now. And some O2, I'm starting to feel a little short of breath."
Everything moved very quickly after that. The police had taken down the shooter and he was dead inside the house. The second ambulance had arrived within five minutes (although it seemed like an hour) and had me in the ER ten minutes after that. I was really happy to see Dr. Haddad's face looking down at me in the trauma room.
"You're doing OK, Kevin. Your pressure is good and so is your O2 sat. You've got a pneumothorax and free blood in your chest so, as you know, we're going to have to put in a chest tube. Dr. Cohen is on the way down to evaluate you and get you ready for surgery if that's what they decide to do. Is there anyone you want us to call?"
"Umm, not right now. I'll call my mom after the surgery when I can give her some good news."
Dr. Haddad leveled one of her infamous disapproving looks at me. "I'm a mother, Kevin, and I'm pretty sure she might not appreciate your consideration, but I'll leave that up to you."
As the anesthetic wore off in the recovery room, my shoulder and my chest began to throb. My mom had been called in spite of my request and was sitting beside me. Her tears splashed on my face when she kissed me on the forehead. "Take it easy, Mom. I'll be fine."
"I know, Kevin. I've already spoken to Dr. Cohen. I'm just so happy to see you looking back at me and to hear your voice."
The recovery room nurse injected something into my IV line and said, "This is something for the pain and we're going to put you back to sleep now. You'll be in the ICU overnight, then we'll move you to a private room."
I really did get a private room. Hospital policy was, if a private room were available, any cop, firefighter or medic injured in the line of duty would get it. An even nicer surprise was who was waiting for me when they wheeled me in. It was Millie! And damned if she wasn't crying too. Between her and my mother, you would have thought it was a wake.
Taking the offered hand, I chided, "Hey, take it easy. The bullet didn't do nearly as much damage as it might have and I'm going to be just fine, OK?"
"Don't be so darned clinical," she came back, sniffling. "It's a woman's prerogative to be emotional. Jeez, Kevin, I almost died when I heard about it on the news. They reported that you had been taken to the hospital in critical condition. I came right away but they wouldn't allow any visitors to the ICU." She leaned over and planted a kiss on my lips.
"Mmm!" I smiled and licked my lips. "That's good medicine but you might need to up the dosage."
Mom broke in with a chuckle. "Ahem! I hope I'm not intruding on a private moment."
"No, Mom, you're not. This is Millie Carter, a former patient and now my friend. Millie, this is my mother, Beth Mendel."
"I'm so happy to meet you Mrs. Mendel. Your son may not have told you that he truly saved my life last week. The news of his injury floored me and I just had to come and see him."
"No, Millie, he never talks about his work. I only get second hand reports of his good deeds."
I had to break in before it got too deep. "OK, OK, ladies, enough already! By the way Millie, thanks for the great cookies. I managed to stuff a couple of them down before my day went south."
By the time I'd described all the gory details of the shooting, I was getting pretty tired. Both of them said they'd be back later. A detective from the police department came in and took a statement. There was nothing I could add that they didn't already know but they needed it for the record. I remember thinking as I drifted off to sleep that maybe the current circumstances might mitigate my earlier ethical dilemma.
On the fourth day after my surgery, Dr. Cohen came into my room while Millie was visiting and said that everything looked so good that he'd be happy to cut me loose to go home but only if there was someone there to watch after me and make sure I stayed relatively inactive for at least another week. I'd already been up walking for the past three days with a sling holding my right arm in place and I was getting anxious to leave the hospital. Three quarters of the paramedic division and several firefighters had visited and, while I was appreciative, it was all pretty tiring. I said I supposed that I could stay at my mom's house for a few days. Millie broke into the conversation and said, "Oh, let me do it, Kevin. There's a spare bedroom at my place. I've got tons of vacation time saved up and I'm a pretty good cook." I was about to graciously beg off but when I saw the expectant look in her eyes, my resolve faded away.
"Well, Mom does have a business to run so, if you don't think it would be too much trouble..."
"No trouble at all. OK, it's settled then. When can he leave, Dr. Cohen?"
The good doctor looked at me and then at Millie and grinned like a Cheshire cat. "I'll go sign you out now. You know what to look for, Kevin, so if anything doesn't feel right, get your butt back here on the double, OK? Maybe I should add, 'mild physical activity only'." Millie went to get her car while an orderly provided the obligatory wheelchair ride to the hospital entrance. We stopped by my apartment and packed some clothes and personal items for my stay.
Millie lived in an awesome apartment on the twelfth floor of a high-rise condo overlooking the park. Her spare bedroom was larger than my living room. "This is beautiful! I see you live in the upper stratum of society."
"My parents do ... I don't. This place belongs to my dad. He bought it as an investment when property prices were going nuts. When the bottom dropped out of the condo market, he said he was damned it he was going to give it away and said I could live here until he could at least break even on it. My own personal ways and means are a lot more humble. Like you, I work for a living and I never ask my folks for money and I insist on paying rent on the apartment. My dad thinks it's stupid but I moved out of my parent's house to be independent and independent I shall be."
"Good for you. A girl after my own heart," I praised, patting her on the shoulder.
"I hope so," she said impishly. "OK, let's get your shoes off and you can lie back for a little rest while I unpack your stuff. That control there on the nightstand will raise and lower the head of the bed. I'm guessing that lying flat isn't very comfortable for you."
"Thanks, and you right. This will be a lot more comfortable than trying to sleep on a stack of pillows. If it's all right with you, I'd really like to take a hot shower first. I just need a little help with this sling and then I can one-hand it from there."
She unstrapped the sling and unbuttoned my shirt, sliding it off my left arm first and then the right so I wouldn't have to raise my right arm. There was still a large bruise on the right side of my chest around the bullet wound.
"Ooh! That looks sore," she said, lightly tracing her fingers around the scabbed-over entry wound.
"Not as sore as it looks. Dr. Cohen actually went into my chest through here." I pointed to a one-inch line of stitches under my arm. "The bullet was lodged between two ribs and only nicked the top of my lung. As long as I don't over do it, everything should be good as new in another week. Then it's just a matter of getting strength and mobility back in the shoulder. You can help me with that by passively moving it around three or four times a day."
"You got it! You just show me what to do and I'll do it. The shower is right through that door. Are you sure you don't need some help with that?"
I arched my eyebrow, Snidely Whiplash-fashion and said in my most lecherous voice, "Heh heh. Don't tempt me, Dearie; you might get more than you bargained for."
I finished undressing in the bathroom and stepped into the shower, turning the water on as hot as I could tolerate it. It felt so good to just stand there with the heat spraying on my neck and shoulders, I just closed my eyes, hoping she had a huge hot water tank. Imagine my surprise when the shower door opened and Millie stepped inside to join me holding a little plastic stool. I was so flustered, I just stood there gawking at her until she started laughing. She had the most exquisite body! She was slim without being skinny and had perfectly shaped breasts, a classic hourglass figure, a dense little triangle of a black bush; a total package to die for.
"Kevin, put your eyes back into your head. I'm just doing my duty as your nurse. You do need your back washed don't you?" I might have taken her more seriously if she
hadn't been giggling. She set the stool down in the middle of the shower. "Turn around and sit down so I can wash your hair."
One doesn't stand in the way of a woman on a mission of mercy, so I did as I was told, partially because the blood flow to my dick was surging and, in spite of my willing it otherwise, the old boy was rapidly becoming very prominent. She wet my hair with the hand-held sprayer and squeezed a big glop of shampoo into it, working up a rich lather and rinsing it clean. Squirting a puddle of body wash into her hand, she began soaping my back and arms, being very gently around the right shoulder. She reached over me and, pressing her beautiful breasts against my back, soaped up my chest, getting a birds-eye view of the manifestation of my growing sexual excitement. In a pitiful attempt at humor, I smiled up at her and said, "I, umm, suppose you nurses see this kind of thing all the time."
She kissed me on the forehead and breathed into my ear in this sexy, Marilyn Monroe-type voice, "Oh, yes Sir, but hardly ever such nice ones. Could I offer you some help with that? I can see it needs some tending to."
Setting the spray nozzle in its holder, Millie stepped in front of me and kneeled down. First, she took my face in her hands and planted a long and passionate kiss on my lips, teasing them with the tip of her tongue. Then, she leaned forward and kissed the wound on my chest, trailing her fingers down my belly and taking a firm grasp of my turgid cock and slowly moving her hand up and down its length.