“Oh no, look at that!”
Dr. Mark Jenner turned from looking at the patient lying in the hospital bed to the television on the wall. There was a news bulletin and, though the sound was muted, they could see there had been an explosion in one of the downtown high-rises.
“Turn up the sound,” Mark said.
“We don’t have many details as of this time as the police, fire and rescue personnel are just arriving. The KRTV studios are in the next block so we heard and felt the explosion. As you can see the entire front of the Dressler Building has suffered extension damage to the first three floors. We have no idea how many people have been injured or killed, nor do we know what or who caused the explosion.”
The announcer paused, looking off camera for a moment. “I’ve been instructed to move so the rescue vehicles can approach. We’ll keep you appraised of this developing situation as soon as we know more. This is Kelly Miller reporting for KRTV.”
Mark looked back at the man whom he had been giving discharge instructions to.
“Holy cow,” the man said. “That looks bad.”
Mark’s phone cheeped. He drew it from the pocket of his lab coat. The text read, All physicians to the ED stat. Explosion with multiple casualties.
“I need to go. They’re bringing the injured here. A nurse will be in shortly to finish with the instructions, then they’ll spring you from this joint.” Mark patted the elderly man on the arm in farewell and left the room.
He jogged down the hall and called, “Keith, hold the elevator.” The surgeon he often worked with stood in the opening and stepped in as Mark passed into the car.
“Did you see the news flash?” Mark asked. He began buttoning his coat. He didn’t want it to get in the way as he worked on a patient.
“No, just the text.” Keith punched the button to the first floor.
“Explosion at the Dressler Building. The entire front for three floors is badly damaged. There will be a lot of casualties.”
The door opened and Mark and Keith got off and hurried to toward the emergency department. Several nurses were speaking with people waiting to be seen. Some were being referred to the medical clinic down the street, explaining the influx of trauma patients and the extended wait time that would result for less severe cases.
Mark slashed his identification card through the locking mechanism and the doors opened. They went in and over to the radio center. Several operators were speaking with EMT’s on the scene and typing notes into their computers.
Mark and Keith looked at each other listening to the chatter and getting an idea of the types of injuries that would be coming in. Three more doctors came through the doors and stood nearby doing the same thing.
Several people had already been pronounced dead at the scene. Mark gritted his teeth. He’d known just from seeing the destruction to the building that there had to be fatalities but never even having a chance to try to save the lives bothered.
“ETA three minutes on two ambulances,” the head radio operator said. “In first female, mid-twenties, burns and shrapnel from glass and metal to her back. Multiple internal injuries from impact with possibly a parking meter and parked car.”
“I’ll take that,” said Mark. “Which room?”
“Trauma three. It’s set up for burns.” The operator began reciting the details of the patient coming in the second vehicle as Mark walked toward the ambulance bay to meet it.
Even though the day was cold, he went outside to wait. The area always smelled of gas fumes. It didn’t take long. The scream of the siren came first, then the flash of red lights. As soon as the ambulance stopped in the bay Mark pulled its door open allowing the crewman to jump down and begin to pull the gurney from the truck.
“Multiple second degree burns to her back and extremities. Possible fracture to thoracic vertebra. Shrapnel type wounds to the same.” He continued outlining the injuries and vital stats as they jogged toward Trauma Room Three pulling the gurney along.
It just might be a miracle if this young woman lived, Mark thought. As it was she would have a long, hard recovery if she managed to pull through. He began praying in the back of his mind as he issued orders to the staff gathered in the room.
Soon her clothing, what hadn’t been shredded in the blast, was cut off and multiple IV’s had been started. She was lying on her stomach as the damage to her back was extensive and needed treatment first. Mark ordered blood-work and X-rays, then stepped back to allow the portable machine into the room. He surveyed her back, arms and legs.
He picked up the telephone and called the university. The burns and cuts might benefit from the experimental skin gun that was awaiting FDA approval. It was a miraculous new machine that used stem cells to treat burns.
After the X-rays were complete the young woman, Kyria Metcalf, was surrounded once again by nurses and Mark gave instructions on how he wanted her treatment to proceed. Keith came in saying his patient had expired and he wanted to know if he was needed before the next ones arrived.
Just then Kyria jerked and began thrashing and groaning in pain. As those gathered around the bed touched her to stop her movements she began screaming.
“We need her sedated stat,” Mark shouted giving orders for the anesthetic to be administered. Within a few moments she calmed and went still.
Mark rubbed a weary hand down his face as he reviewed the reports of the cases he’d handled of the explosion victims. His most serious case was that of Kyria Metcalf. He still wasn’t sure if she would survive or not. She was a very damaged young woman.
He looked at her personal information. She was twenty-six. If she lived she’d still be in the hospital on her birthday. She might even spend it in the drug induced coma they had placed her in. It was next week after all.
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Sophie Dawson is my pen name. The real me is the wife of a farmer in western Illinois.
I have two grown sons, one of which is married to a wonderful young woman. They gave us the most wonderful granddaughter ever in November of 2010. I'm not the least bit prejudice. :)