This story came about due to the numerous near and actual drownings in this area this year. There seems to be at least three a week, sometimes as many as two in a day. It’s a short story…but this story has been trying to get out for quite awhile now and I finally had to do it so it’ll leave me alone. Hope you enjoy it.
By Audrey W.
After returning from what had become an all too familiar call, the paramedics sat in silence across from each other at the table in the dayroom.
Johnny ran his right hand through his hair and leaned back, sighing.
“How many calls like this does this make for the past two weeks?” He asked glumly.
Roy gave a weary glance at his partner before returning his stare to the table. “About six…and we’re not even very far into summer yet.”
Johnny nodded slightly, then sat forward again. “I’m not sure I can take another one, Roy. There has to be something someone can do to get it into these people’s heads that little ones can’t be left alone even for a few seconds around water!”
“Well, they’ve put public announcements on TV,” Roy said, “but it doesn’t seem to reach the right ones.”
“I just…I’m drained,” Johnny said quietly. “Remember when Jeanine was hurt and I told you how I felt about rescues when they involved kids?”
Roy nodded. “Yeah.”
“That’s how I feel now. It tears me up to see these little defenseless kids fighting to survive because an adult was too busy to watch out for their safety.”
“You know that isn’t always the case. Sometimes it just happens and the adult is right there.”
“I know. But the majority are adults who leave the child alone for a few seconds, or they don’t miss them being out of the room until it’s too late. Or there was the mother who went outside to move the sprinkler and left her eighteen-month-old alone in the tub. It’s senseless.”
“As a dad I can tell you, keeping track of a kid is easier said than done at times,” Roy explained. “But if more people saw what we have in the past two weeks, they would probably get the message. Maybe someone needs to do a news story on us…on how it affects the ones who have to respond to the calls repeatedly. You could always suggest it to Cap. I’m sure he could arrange something.”
Both paramedics turned to look as a man walked in with a little blonde curly haired girl about two-years-old holding his hand.
“Can we help you?” Roy asked, getting to his feet.
“I hope it’s okay if we came in…the door was up,” the man motioned towards the front of the building.
“Uh...yeah…sure,” Johnny looked to see Roy nodding also. He got up out of his chair. “Is there something wrong?”
“I wasn’t sure if you’d remember her, but I just wanted to thank you guys for saving my daughter Kelly’s life last week. My name is Ted Dillermon.”
“Oh…sure! We remember Kelly,” Roy answered as he walked over towards the man. “And you’re welcome, but we just did our job. We’re glad to see she’s doing okay.”
“Without you, she wouldn’t be here now,” the man’s eyes watered, his voice was filled with emotion. “Today is her second birthday.”
Johnny could feel the emotion in himself intensify. As down as he had been feeling, he reminded himself that the parents were devastated, more so if it was their negligence that caused the near drowning or a death.
Johnny walked over and stood beside Roy. He smiled at the little girl. “Happy birthday, sweetheart.”
Kelly grinned shyly.
The father looked down at his daughter. “I don’t know how we would’ve gone on if we couldn’t see that precious smile any more. She’s our only child and I can’t even imagine life without her.”
“Really, it’s thanks to your quick response in finding her, doing what you could for her and calling us that saved Kelly,” Johnny pointed out. “You kept your cool and reacted exactly as you should’ve.”
Roy nodded in agreement. “He’s right. You were there when Kelly needed you.”
“It was my fault it happened. I left her alone in the yard near the swimming pool to get my sunglasses out of the car.” Ted wiped the back of his hand across his eyes. “My damn sunglasses.”
Neither Johnny nor Roy was sure what to say. This was precisely what they had been talking about. The natural response would be to say it was okay. That things often just happen. But due to the circumstances, neither one could get the words to come out.
“You want a chance to make some good out of this whole experience?” Johnny asked.
“If there’s a way, sure,” Ted answered, a puzzled expression on his face. “What do you have in mind?”
“My partner, Roy, had an idea. He suggested we ask if they’ll run a story on the news regarding how often we’re called to the scene of child drownings…or near drownings… during the summer months. We’ve been to six in the past two weeks,” Johnny explained solemnly.
Ted shook his head in disbelief. “Guess we all have the it can’t happen to me syndrome.”
“You’d be amazed,” Roy stated.
“Well, if we can get the opportunity to be featured, would you be willing to be in it too?” Johnny asked. “Maybe show you and your daughter together and tell how everything happened the day you almost lost her?”
Ted gave the idea thought. “I’d have to ask my wife. She may want to do it, too.” He sighed, “Heck, if it’ll save even one life, why not? I don’t see her saying no.”
“Good.” Johnny felt a sense of accomplishment already. “I think it would make it more effective to have someone like yourself in it.”
“You’re probably right,” Ted agreed, glancing down at Kelly again.
“While you’re here, you and your daughter want a tour of the station?” Roy offered. “Maybe with a little luck, the engine will be back before you leave. Little ones always seem to get a thrill out of seeing a fire engine. For now you’ll have to settle for the squad,” he grinned.
“Sure.” Ted picked up his daughter and gave her a hug. “We have a little bit of time before we have to be home for Kelly’s birthday party.”
Roy led the way out as they went into the apparatus bay.
* * * * * * * * *
Three days later the two paramedics and the Dillermons came together to film the news story. It had been decided to do it at the station. The Dillermons also agreed to film a public service announcement telling about their close call.
After all was said and done, and the news crew and others had left the station, Johnny and Roy stood beside the squad, reflecting on the day.
“Think it’ll do any good?” Johnny asked, leaning against the squad.
“Only time will tell,” Roy answered. “But like Ted Dillermon said, if it saves one life, we’ve made progress.”
Thanks, Kenda, for the beta read and title suggestion! Also thank you, Donna, for your help. :o)