"An Eye for an Eye"
Station 51’s Captain watched, in dismay, as one of the people they’d been dispatched to pull from a multi-car pileup suddenly lashed out at his rescuer. Stanley steadied the partially-blinded paramedic and started steering him away from his attacker.
John Gage muttered a few choice expletives, beneath gasped breaths, and managed to take a couple of trusting steps back from the crumpled Corvette, before stopping and dropping to one knee. The injured fireman remained crouched there, shielding his right eye with his left hand, and sadly shaking his hanging head. "Ah, ma-an! I don’t be-lieve this!"
Hank placed a supportive hand on the paramedic’s back and promptly summoned his partner over. "DeSoto!"
"What happened?" Roy DeSoto inquired, as he came running up. He set the bright orange equipment case he was carrying down on the grass and then stooped beside his apparently pained pal.
"You familiar with the phrase: An eye for an eye?" Gage grumbled.
His puzzled partner replied in the affirmative. "Yeah…" DeSoto repeated aloud, when he realized that his hurting associate was currently unable to see his nod.
"I was performing an IPS on the convertible’s passenger," Johnny quietly continued. "I flicked my penlight in his right eye, and he flicked his finger in mine."
Roy gave their Captain a questioning glance.
Hank nodded grimly, and gave Gage’s sagging left shoulder a reassuring squeeze. It was common knowledge that victims of head trauma could suddenly become combative, and his guys had been on the receiving end of more than one victim’s combativeness. Hell, in the course of the past six years, Stanley had witnessed his paramedics being bitten and kicked, slugged and slapped, pinched and punched, and pushed and prodded by the very people they were trying their damnedest to help. Now, it appeared ‘eye-gouged’ could be added on to that loooong list. The Captain pulled the HT from his coat pocket and asked LA to dispatch an additional squad to their location.
"Move your hand," Roy suddenly requested.
Johnny obediently lowered his left hand.
Roy winced. A steady stream of pink-tinged tears told him that—somewhere beneath that tightly clamped lid—his partner’s eye was bleeding. "Open up. So I can take a look."
Johnny just shook his head. "Burns too much."
Roy appealed to a higher power.
The Captain completed his call and re-pocketed his radio. Hank saw his senior paramedic’s pleading glance and repeated, rather authoritatively, "Open up. So he can take a look."
Roy gave their Captain a grateful nod, as his stubborn patient immediately did as directed—er, ordered.
Johnny reluctantly raised the lid on his injured right eye. The fireman’s face filled with a grimace and he hissed in pain, as air came into contact with his open wound and it really started stinging! The pained paramedic had everything he could do to keep from batting his partner’s probing fingers away from his damaged eye. His Captain must have sensed that he was having a hard time holding still, because he suddenly rested his hands on his wrists.
His partner finally completed his eye exam. "You’ve got a pretty nasty cut on your lower conjunctiva," he solemnly reported. "His fingernail may have also scratched the sclera. I couldn’t see any damage to the cornea, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any. Right now, your eye is just too watery and bloody for me to tell." The paramedic stopped speaking and opened the orange case at his feet. He passed Stanley a couple of sterile compresses and a few rolls of gauze. "Bandage both eyes for me, will yah, Cap? I gotta get back to the ‘other’ accident victims."
The Captain released their restless patient’s wrists and accepted the proffered first-aid supplies. "You know the drill," the fire officer reminded the even antsier paramedic, just as John was about to protest. "We have to cover the good eye to keep the damaged eye from movin’ around."
Gage exhaled an exasperated gasp. Until the other squad arrived, his poor partner was going to have his hands full. The injured paramedic heard the sound of paper tearing and felt his Captain gently place a sterile compress over each of his watering eyes.
"Hold these," Hank requested. Gage did, and Stanley started securing the dressings in place. The Captain pulled a pair of scissors from the black leather pouch on his patient’s belt and used them to cut the gauze horizontally, creating strips with which to tie off his expertly applied bandage.
Speaking of hands…
John noted the competent medical care he was receiving, at their Captain’s skillful hands. That was when he realized that each member of Engine 51’s crew possessed the same medical expertise. That was also when the paramedic stopped worrying so much about his partner.
With the help of his fellow firefighters, Roy’s hands wouldn't be so full, after all.
Squad 36 arrived eight minutes later. Its occupants bailed out and then stood there, staring at John Gage—and his bandaged eyes.
The blind paramedic was busy relaying vital signs and doctor’s instructions. His eyes may have been temporarily out of commission, but his ears and jaws were apparently working just fine!
The two new arrivals exchanged amazed glances and immediately went to work.
More wailing sirens announced that the ambulances were also now ‘on scene’.
The Captain pulled Chet Kelly out of one of the crumpled cars. "Reinforcements have arrived. I want you and John to start heading over to the hospital," he announced, and pointed a finger toward the parked rescue truck. Hank was more than a little concerned. If his paramedic’s eyesight became impaired, because his wound wasn’t treated in a timely fashion, it could quite possibly be a career-ending injury for him.
Kelly readily nodded his compliance. He headed over to the paramedic with the bandaged eyes and 'somehow' managed to pull him away from the Bio-phone. "C’mon, John…" he gently urged, and began guiding Gage over to the Squad. "Cap’ wants the two of us to take a little ride on over to Rampart."
"Okay," John calmly conceded. "But I’m drivin’."
"That’s fine by me, babe!" Chet played along. "You drive around like you’re blind half the time, anyway."
"Look who’s talkin’. I’m not the one with a fresh ding in my front bumper."
"Hey! I was parked and this ditzy blonde backed into me!"
Stanley overheard the two gentlemen’s—er, twits’ exchange and couldn’t help but smile. The Captain glanced around at his five-man crew, his eyes beaming with pride. Hank was eternally grateful that he’d been granted the privilege of working—shoulder to shoulder—with each and every fun-loving one of them!
Author's note: IPS stands for Initial Patient Survey.
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July Picture 2009 Stories by Ross