Roy decided to start another IV in what he hoped wasn’t a futile attempt to keep his partner’s blood pressure up until the promised helicopter arrived. As he prepared the additional normal saline IV, Roy glanced around, hoping the helicopter, or someone, would appear over the horizon. All alone, Roy had nothing but the drug box to treat Johnny’s rattlesnake bite out in the middle of nowhere. He’d had to run to the top of the hill for the radio to work to call for the copter. No way could he get Johnny up the hill by himself. Help by road was thirty minutes away.
After securing the IV, Roy checked Johnny’s blood pressure again. With a sigh, he noted that he hadn’t lost ground this time, but the numbers were frighteningly low. To provide some comfort, he wiped the sweat off Johnny’s face and moved so that his shadow kept the beating sun from adding to his partner’s discomfort. Roy’s ears ached to hear the beat of the copter’s blades.
As Johnny labored for breath, Roy finally heard the helicopter. Relief flooded through him as he stood and waved to direct the pilot to their location. As the blade wash swirled the grass and their clothing, Roy saw Johnny start convulsing. Immediately, he dropped down to help Johnny. To compound his horror, the helicopter drifted away from them, disappearing beyond the hilltop. In the chilling quiet, Roy heard Johnny gasp a final breath.
"No!" Roy screamed.
The gentle touch and calm voice pulled Roy out of his fitful slumber. He looked around the quiet room where his partner slept peacefully – still pale from his tangle with the rattlesnake at the canyon accident scene that Roy had left with the victims in the helicopter. The helicopter that his partner would need just minutes after takeoff. And the senior paramedic partner that was in it. Roy rubbed his hands over his face and sat up in the uncomfortable chair. He had no idea how he’d managed to fall asleep in it.
"Is he doing okay?" Roy asked the nurse.
"Better than you, I’d say. You should go home; he’ll sleep for a while yet."
Roy shook his head. "Not yet. After he wakes up. I want him to know I’m here."