Sunday, January 3, 2010

Left Behind

As I mentioned in last post, we (the Helicopter EMS) took off pretty early in the morning. After loading the big patient into the aircraft for return to our hospital, Serious-RN looked right at me and said, "Sorry, you'll have to stay here." Then she radio'd back to let our hospital know that one "of us" stayed at this other hospital. They all apologized profusely; it was really okay.

I knew it was okay as I was befriended by the long-retired security guard at this other hospital. After the aircraft took off, he huddled next to me and escorted me through the waiting room to the back of the emergency area. As we sauntered, he proudly told me about his career in the army, about his piloting experience, about how blessed he felt with his life. I felt like I had a new grandfather!

We moseyed into the "major care" area of this other hospital, me with my helmet under my arm and grandpa by my side. We stood near the nurses station until the charge nurse approached us. Grandpa shook my hand vigorously and explained to charge nurse why I was left behind. The charge nurse took over my care.

He was an experienced nurse, I found out. A leader in the regional "emergency nurses association" and good friends with the coordinator of this 'ride along' program of which I was a part. He wanted me to pass greetings along to Mr. Coordinator the next time I saw him. He offered me coffee and a space to stand at the counter for the unit secretary. Just as he excused himself to go care for someone, the unit secretary came by.

She looked curiously at me, but without an ounce of suspicion. I think that emergency room medical workers get pretty used to seeing weird things, like me and my helmet. I said, "pretty quiet in here, eh?" and she shushed me. That's code for, "Yes, it is but don't you jinx it!" As if I have that kind of power (hee hee!). Just then, the emergency room doors opened and in comes a stretcher holding a 150 year old woman, bless her heart, and two strong-looking paramedic women explaining to her 80-something year old daughter where they were going.

One of the paramedics came over and asked with curiosity what was up with me. She took time to hear my "left behind" story and then offered me some coffee and a comfy chair in the family waiting room. (The bubble over my head said, "Oh no, don't put me in the family room! I know what happens in those rooms!") But Ms. Paramedic insisted that I'd be more comfortable there. I resigned and offered the large sofa to my helmet as I snugged into the overstuffed chair. I called Mr. Coordinator and he was just 10 minutes away.

He picked me up just outside the ambulance entrance. Mr. Coordinator remarked about his buddy the charge nurse at the emergency center there. I passed along the greetings. He then pointed to a police car that was just exiting the freeway, remarking how that was his friend, "Joe," who recently helped them in some late night trauma. "We all know each other in this business."

I could see that! The security guy knew the charge nurse who worked with the unit secretary who was amused by the paramedic nurses who drive the ambulances that arrive at scenes policed by folks like "Joe" who contact the helicopter EMS crew for life threatening traumas.

I was left behind, but I was not forgotten. I was part of the web of care and welcomed into a community of emergency medical providers. Later that day, I was in our hospital's emergency center. One of the trauma transport nurses approaches me and says, "Hey, I heard you got left behind at that other hospital. Sorry about that!"

I really felt held by that web of support - all those folks so intricately connected and who feel responsible for each others' vocational interests. I reflect with my colleagues about the theological implications. This has to do with God's presence in our interconnectedness, with our care for each other no matter how strange and welcoming each other since we were once left behind, too.

"Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt." Exodus 22:21

When we try to pick anything out by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe. John Muir

"Humankind did not weave the web of life. We are but strands within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves." Chief Seattle Native American Leader (1786-1866)

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful! Thank you for letting us know "the rest of the story!"