Fear Of the Unknown
Sunday, October 13, 1974 at 3:18 PM, I can remember that day and time like it had only just happened.
The tones sounded for a child poisoning at an all to familiar address, mine. To try and explain the feelings that were coursing through me at that moment, is impossible.
With two small children, a boy and a girl, I was a very frightened father. Firefighter/Paramedic John Gage, my best friend and partner here at Station 51 who normally rides in the shotgun seat of the squad, was appointed the designated driver for this particular run, by himself and our captain.
Captain Hank Stanley acknowledged the call, and also reported the engine crew to respond with us. The only reason I can figure he did that, was to lend support. We're a tight knit group and are always there for one another in good times and bad. I was praying the outcome this time was good. Without Johnny and the rest of the A-Shift Crew's support, I would have withered right on the spot before we even got out the door. The unknown is a scary thing. Not knowing what your up against.
The drive to my house seemed to take forever, even though I knew Johnny was pushing the squad to its limit. His hands held a death grip on the steering wheel, trying to hold his emotions in check. He was as scared and worried as I was. He loves my family as much as we love him. Only two things kept flashing to mind on our way there. Two blond haired, blue eyed children, one with a sprinkling of freckles upon his face and the sweet little princess whose only worry is, what should Barbie wear today?
My imagination was
running wild. So many possibilities as to what was happening to my family. Was
it Chris? Did he get into something I used in the garage or for gardening? Or
was it my four year old, Jennifer? Whichever didn't matter. My feelings were the
As I sat impatiently awaiting our arrival, I wondered how could such a beautiful day have turned into such a nightmare. Turning the curve, my house came into view. It looked just as it did when I left for work this morning.
Johnny pulled the squad into the driveway behind our station wagon. Before the rescue vehicle even came to a stop, I had my door open and was running for the front door. I knew I should help Johnny get the equipment, but I just had to get in there and find out what was happening. I could hear Captain Stanley yell for the rest of the guys to help Johnny.
Upon entering my house, I could hear soft weeping emitting from upstairs. I took the steps two at a time until I reached the second floor. Noting the crying was coming from the bathroom, I made a hasty dash down the hall and through the open door. There I found Joanne with tears running down her face, while she held a sobbing Jennifer.
Seeing my girls in such a state was almost my undoing. I pulled myself together and put on a stoic face. I didn't want them to see that my control was almost gone. I'm suppose to be strong, the protector of my family, and this was the time for me to play that part. I gathered them in my arms and tried to comfort them.
Just as I asked Joanne what was wrong, Johnny and the other guys came rushing into the bathroom. Johnny set up the bio-phone and contacted Rampart Hospital. He relayed the vitals and Jennifer's condition to Dr. Early. I was there if he needed me, but I let him take care of my baby.
Dr. Early wanted us to bring in Jennifer for a quick check up to make sure all was indeed going to be ok. He said the ingestion of the Chalk's Children's Vitamins wouldn't harm her. Joanne had done the right thing, by inducing vomiting.
I asked Cap to get a replacement for me for the rest of the shift. I wanted to go home and revel in the fact that my daughter was safe.
After we'd tucked Jenny into bed, I had to ask Joanne the question. "How did this happen?"
Apparently, Jennifer had pulled one of the kitchen chairs over to the refrigerator and climbed upon it to reach the bottle of Chalk's that was kept on top of the appliance. She'd told Joanne that she wanted more than just the one she received each day, that she thought they tasted good, like candy.
Needless to say, we have a new storage place for all the vitamins and medicines. This day has been etched into my memory for the rest of my life. The feeling of being frightened and helpless are emotions I hope never to have again, especially where my family is concerned.
Thanks to Heidi for the beta.
Based on a true story.....
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