“This is your house? Oh, Honey, it can’t be; it’s a joke, right?” My mother took one quick look, whipped her head around to glare at me, her eyes wide, her brows raised. After 25 years of parenting me she was hopeful but feared the worst.
“Oh, Mom, it’s not that bad. Once we get unloaded and set up, you’ll see.” Sinking down into the thick, red clay mud as we left the car did not lighten my mother’s worries any. It was immediately obvious why I had urged her to wear rubber boots.
Unlocking the sun-bleached wooden front door, loose on its hinges at the bottom and listing to the left, we crossed into the living room. I patted myself on the back for having had the foresight to stretch out the faded old linoleum after the last training session with my team on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation. I probably should have left it rolled up.
“Yikes! What was that?” Screaming, mother threw both hands up to cover her mouth while I was bent over, with tears of laughter rolling down my flushed cheeks. She had stepped on one of the buckles in the unsecured linoleum and a couple of dark grey, furry mice squealed, scampering out from under the very spot she had placed her foot. “Oh, dear! You can’t live here.”
But, I did live there through that wet, icy April and well into the dry heat of summer. Living on the Reservation made it possible for my team to have more frequent training sessions. What patience and kindness the 21 future EMT-A’s demonstrated towards their young instructor.
“Okay, folks, anyone remember what the book says about lifting a victim off the ground if you don’t have a board to keep him flat?”
“If the victim is a woman, the heaviest part should be at the hips so the strongest EMT should take the hips and the other one, the shoulders. If it is a man, the shoulders are the heaviest.”
“Correct! Let’s try it.” Pointing to Mary, all of 5 feet tall, the three of us assumed our positions — Mary stretched out, Eddy kneeling by her hips and the instructor by her shoulders, according to the book. It was rather a tight squeeze with chuckles from the watching squad because Eddy was a giant of a man who probably weighed-in at 300 pounds. Not a lot of wiggle-room with such a small victim. Mary’s arms crossed and resting on her chest, we inched our arms under Mary’s body, preparing to lift her up and roll her like a log onto our chests. Then, in unison, we would stand, “victim” secured for transport to the waiting gurney. Uh, well, that’s how the diagrams show it should happen anyway.
“On three!” I shouted out the count and, with a grunt, contracted my biceps and upper body muscles. Eddy did the same, without the grunt. Using one fluid movement, Eddy rolled Mary’s hips against his chest and stood.
Sadly, I was still kneeling and pulling with all my might to lift Mary’s upper half from the floor. I had done this maneuver a dozen times; how could this be happening? Eddy, aware of the dead silence in the room, broke his concentration to see Mary dangling head-down, arms still crossed, twisted at the waist, her lower half against him.
“Okay, so sometimes the book is wrong.” Eddy gently helped Mary stand. My red face glowed the embarrassment but my smile was all they needed to let the laughter rip. It was then I noticed that, indeed, the petite lady had narrow hips and an extremely muscular upper body.
Throughout the practicum, my team demonstrated excellent competence and incredible gentleness in every emergency situation. Once, a 5-year-old girl had broken her leg and was hysterical, screaming and thrashing everything that still moved. Kneeling, whispering softly to the child, Eddy lined up the splint. In seconds, it had been properly secured, the little girl giggling.
All-too-soon my job was finished. Everyone now wore the Registered Emergency Technicians-Ambulance patch. Sitting behind the wheel of my fully-packed car, a final glance back at the old dilapidated house, I flashed back to that day with Mom. Except for the repaired hinges, it was just the same – inside and out. I stared at the beautifully beaded black leather watchband my team had given me just an hour ago. Tears filling my eyes, I started the engine. The best of the best remained to serve.
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