Good Life - One Republic
Fire And Rescue
02/22/2013 - It started out a normal day in Rockwood Park. A few calls here and there for basic, everyday things. However, we all know that no day can be that simple when you're in this line of work. During the six o'clock shift changes this afternoon, a call was for a fire squad and a team of paramedics to be sent to downtown, to a historic building where a young woman had been stabbed and left for dead in a fertilizer bomb-trapped apartment.
Waiting was the worst part.
Waiting. Watching. Praying. Thinking.
I take it back now. Thinking is the worst part.
Staring at a building, ready to implode at any moment, wondering what's going on behind the brick. Is my boyfriend alive? Are they walking through the knife removal like the paramedic chief is telling them to? Are they going to end up killing her? Killing themselves?
They had already been up there for fifteen minutes. In a situation with internal bleeding and explosives, it could be compared to several hours. My hands were shaking as I listened to the responses on the radio. Hollis' voice appeared, clear on the usually-staticy device, "Attempting to disable the bomb."
Silence. Behind me, Johnny Clapp, Hollis’ best friend, put his hand on my shoulder, giving it a quick squeeze. Charné Turner, one of my favorite women on the police force, knelt close by, taking down notes about the situation from neighbors. It was rare that the “holy trinity”, if you will, had to be called out to an assignment.
The radios were still silent. How long had it been since Adam’s announcement? How many minutes had he been pulling at wires, carefully stripping and unclipping them? I caught a glimpse between Williams, the fire chief, and Johnny right before Johnny grabbed his helmet and convoked the rest of the team, plotting their attempt to go in.
Williams got on his radio, “Greene, Fisher, Roberts, we are sending in an assist. Get that woman out of there!”
“Fisher here, sir! Greene is ordering all squad members to stay out! Citizen is being taken out now, sir!”
Williams scoffed and fought back, protecting his status above Hollis. “Get them out of there!”
“Vera,” Mindy, my coworker, approached me, “gloves on. You’re going to have to take out that knife.”
I ducked my head, moving to the ambulance to cover my hands in sanitary, blue plastic.
Behind me, I heard Johnny swear loudly. My heart dropped to my feet.
I turned around just in time to see Fisher and Garren carefully carrying out the victim. A black cloud of smoke appeared just before the loudest gunshot-sound I had ever heard. Williams shouted orders, but I didn’t process them. Johnny and the other boys pulled on their helmets, running towards the building.
The victim was loaded on a stretcher but I made a dangerous move. I ran towards the door where Hollis was being carried out by his team. Unauthorized, I worked my way between Johnny and Garren, already working through his condition in my head: burns across the back of his neck, his right ear, and both of his hands and wrists. Some of the redness from his ear and neck had extended to his face.
“He had to take off his gloves and helmet to work on the bomb.” Garren explained, talking more quickly than I could understand in the moment. “He left them in the apartment.”
They loaded him onto a stretcher, closed eyed and soot-covered.
“How are you?” I asked, stepping into the hospital room that Hollis had been assigned to, he had USA Today propped on his knees, flipping through it with his fingertips. Only the backs of his hands had gotten the worst of it, so he wasn’t completely dependent on other people. The toss from the explosion had, however, caused a lot of stress on his back. That wasn’t great news for a firefighter lieutenant.
He looked up at me as I sat at the foot of his bed, “I’m fine.” He forced a smile on his face for a moment before looking me over. I was in scrubs and a ponytail – the look on his face showed me that this wasn’t just a friendly visit to check up on my boyfriend.
“Let’s pretend for a minute that I’m just your doctor and not your girlfriend,” I sat facing him, keeping my posture straight, “How are you?”
“I’m fine, doctor.” He might as well have stuck his tongue out at me. His pride was never my favorite thing about him, but not it was just really aggravating.
I reached into the pocket of my scrubs and pulled out a small, orange bottle of pills. “They told me you were getting an allergic reaction to the codeine. We’re moving you to a low dose of oxymorphone.”
“Sounds fine.” He cleared his throat, watching me move the pills to his tray. “My arms were just itching.”
I frowned and bit my lip, leaning towards him to adjust the gauze tape on his hands. “Do you remember Tipton last year?” Elroy Tipton had been on Hollis’ team and had fallen through a floor on call and landed on his back. It was three months after his accident when after a web of lies about not hurting, his back gave out during the middle of a rescue.
“Vera, I’m not an idiot.” He closed his eyes, laying his head back. “I’m not going to lie and cost my team.”
I squeezed his knee, “I don’t think you’re stupid, Hol. I think you-“
He stopped me, shaking his head, “Vera, I know what you’re saying. Please, just trust me. I’m /fine./”
I nodded, though that meant lying to the both of us.
Because when it came down to it, I didn’t trust that he wasn’t full of pure bullsh*t.