“Out of the way!” yelled a middle-aged man wearing a disposable mask in a white uniform with an armband with a red cross on it. He held a plastic card to a small gray terminal as he came out of the hospital and the shutters, which were usually closed, split wide open. “We have a trauma patient coming in, get out of the way!” he kept yelling as he displaced several people who were loitering by the entrance. He took a large, gray walkie-talkie from his a clip on his belt, pushed a button, and roared into it. “Martínez, get some paramedics on the way immediately! They should have gotten here before I did!” he yelled again as he put the walkie-talkie down. “Lazy kids,” he muttered under his breath.
The sun was setting, hiding behind the tall, concrete white tower that rose from the back of the hospital’s emergency center entrance. Its gentle rays caressed the leaves of the local trees, giving them a golden hue around the edges. The lack of even a breeze made it seem too calm, contrasting heavily against the anxiety on the doctor’s eyes as he paced back and forth. He put his hands on his white coat’s pocket, feeling around for a rectangular slab made of glass and metal. He was about to pull it out, but decided against it and took his arm out and looked at the watch on his wrist. It almost looked like a smartphone, with its rounded edges, metal and glass construction, and busy text boxes popping in and out of existence. He was expecting an ambulance to arrive from the bend at any moment but it just hadn’t happened yet. It must be the time, he thought to himself as a high traffic advisory text box popped into existence on the watch’s display face.
Five minutes had passed, an eternity in his mind. He called the company that managed the ambulances and they assured him that there was indeed one of their vehicles heading towards his hospital with a trauma patient inside of it. Maybe it was a good thing that the paramedics hadn’t arrived yet; he would have wasted their time as well. He looked up from his watch and then it happened: he heard a loud siren announcing its arrival long before he could see the ambulance with his own eyes.
“Nee-naw nee-naw nee-naw” went the ambulance as it arrived by the hospital entrance. The driver went past the bend, did a U-turn, and had the ambulance get up on the sidewalk as the brakes screeched with a horrible metallic scream. The vehicle’s back doors opened suddenly as a team of Emergency Medical Technicians took a gurney out of it and placed it on the smooth walkway while motioning at the impatient doctor.
“Where are my paramedics?” the doctor asked aloud, then exhaled sharply and clenched his fists. It had been more than enough time for them to arrive. He shook his head and took a look at the patient on the gurney. “Seems stable, but that’s a nasty wound on his face,” he said. He turned behind as he heard multiple steps rushing in his direction and saw the paramedics heading towards them. “Finally!”
“Move it, fellows, we don’t want to lose him!” yelled one of them, a slender looking woman with her hair neatly held inside a net. She was one of a group that arrived at the entrance and immediately set about pushing the gurney into the hospital at high speed. She immediately identified and began to monitor a complicated-looking display set up next to the overweight individual being carried by the gurney. Several, hard to track wires snaked around the gurney’s occupant, all hooked up to various devices and the disoriented patient. Beeps came in loud and slow, along with brilliant bulbs that would turn on and off in a pattern that looked like a moving wave. Numbers updated with every beep as well, and the screeching of the gurney’s wheels accentuated the eventful cacophony echoing through the long hall as it mixed up with their heavy stomps. The doctor with the walkie-talkie was ahead of them, moving people out of the way and opening shutters as they arrived at them with his proximity card.
Several fluorescent lights made a buzzing sound above as they flickered on and off. All of the walls surrounding them were white, clean, and cold as the gurney sped through the long hallway. A turn here, another turn there. A set of shutters; it was all so very mechanical and sterile. Voices could be heard from the walkie-talkie from time to time, but neither the doctor nor the paramedics paid any attention to them. The Man in the gurney, barely aware of his surroundings, shifted somewhat to his right, a wet-sounding gargle escaping from his mouth.
A bell. Did they stop? I can barely see; I do feel light above me, but why can’t I make it out in detail? What happened? It was so fast. Why are their voices so difficult to understand, and what is that constant ringing in my ears?
The paramedics were yelling unintelligible sounds at each other as the overweight man in the gurney moaned in pain. One of the paramedics tied a thick yellow rubber band to the man’s arm, then felt around it. Just as the elevator shutters opened, he managed to open a vein and placed a bag of a clear solution in one of the posts coming out of the beeping device that was set in the gurney. With that out of the way and the shutters opened, off they went again, full speed ahead. Several specialists awaited him within an operating room as he was forcefully rushed inside.
The doctor that had been waiting for the ambulance took his coat off, removed the smartwatch he was wearing, and set it into one of the coat’s pockets as he hung it on a wooden rack outside the operating room, all in one smooth motion that he seemed to have mastered long ago. He immediately took a right as he went towards a small annexed washroom and methodically washed his hands, paying careful attention to his ragged-looking nails. He took a pair of white, powdered latex gloves from a blue box in a corner of the washroom and put them on with nary an effort. As soon as he came out of the washroom he saw a man with a disposable surgical mask shoving a bluish transparent tube down the patient’s mouth, then promptly manipulating several valves sprouting from a device hooked up to the tube. The man in the gurney attempted to resist being intubated, but he just didn’t have the strength to do so, his hands feebly trying to grasp the tube but unable to do so, flailing at it instead. It didn’t take long for the clumsy flailing to stop as his hands went limp and fell to his sides, the anesthesia working its magic as his breathing fell into a slow but consistent pattern. The anesthesiologist offered a thumbs-up sign to the rest of the team in the operating room as the doctor paused, took a deep breath, and offered an unintelligible prayer in hushed tones. The anesthesiologist nodded at him.