I glanced at the clock.
Twas the night before Christmas and I was not in my kerchief or cap; nor was I in bed with my wife, Instead, at 9:45 pm on the ‘night before Christmas’ I was at work.
The ambulance pager went off:
‘Grants fork medic 1, eagle pass first responders, eagle pass fire dept, please respond to a 10-50 major at 1505 South pass road.’
A major car accident out near one of the little towns, the local fire dept and first responders would get there at least 15 minutes before the county’s only ambulance could arrive from its shed next to the emergency room where I was sitting. If I had been off duty here at the hospital, I probably would have been on that ambulance. All those people losing their Christmas Eve because of some drunk.
‘502 to medic 1.’
‘Go ahead 502.’
‘Medic 1 we have a 1 car roll-over in a ditch. Three victims: 1 adult male in his mid 20’s, 1 adult female in her mid 20’s, and 1 pediatric female approximately 8 years old…’
As the report continued I listened, appalled. It wasn’t some drunk. It was a young family who had been coming over the pass and had flipped their car into a ditch, probably not used to driving in our ice and snow. Three major trauma patients for our tiny hospital, and the helicopter would never be able to reach us tonight; the weather was far too bad.
Two hours later, most of the excitement was over. The young mother was well on her way to the closest large hospital. We had stabilized her and her injuries were serious, but she would probably be ok. The father was waiting his turn for transport, our doctor had had a good deal of stitching up to do and he would still need surgery that we couldn’t provide here.
I looked across at my patient. She had escaped largely unscathed except for a nasty tib/fib fracture. She was lying in her little dinosaur gown, pale faced, her legs swathed and propped up with pillows, coloring in the coloring book I had given her.
I saw her glance up at the clock. I sighed. She had an hour to go before I could give her any more pain medicine, and she was watching the clock already. I had hoped that the coloring book would distract her more than it seemed to be doing.
It was so unfair. They had been on their way to her grandparents house. Apparently her six siblings were already there, having driven over with their cousins two days ago. She and her mom had stayed behind in order to travel with her father when he got off work.
‘…and besides’, she had told me, ‘I’m the biggest girl and there was lots for me to do.’
I could imagine. I came from a large family myself and the oldest girl of seven would have her hands full.
The clerk had been trying ever since they got here to contact the grandparents and had finally succeeded 15 minutes ago; one of them would be coming to pick up the girl while the other drove to the hospital to see the parents.
I saw her glance at the clock again, her face lit up with excitement and she looked at me, ‘Mr. Nurse, Mr. Nurse!’
Oh, no! She had misread the clock and thought it was time for her meds. I walked reluctantly over to her bedside. This was going to be hard.
‘Mr. Nurse! Mr. Nurse! Merry Christmas!’ She exclaimed, pointing at the clock. I turned in amazement. Sure enough it was 15 seconds past midnight on Christmas day.
Two hours later with her final, ‘Thank you, Mr. Nurse!’ still ringing in my ears, I decided that perhaps this hadn’t been such a bad way to spend Christmas Eve.
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