The child kept drifting off and, with caution from Garfield that he might have a head injury, I jostled him awake every few minutes. I felt awful about hurting him, but he wasn't responding to conversation or his name or commands to stay awake. Garfield wobbled across the patient compartment to us as the ambulance bounced on the road. He flushed the child's lacerated forehead with saline, then taped on a gauze pad.
We arrived at the doors to Rappahannock General Hospital's emergency department, met by Sandi and other ED personnel. I carried my patient back to the pediatric room and sat with him until somebody from the staff could get to us. The child's father came in and asked about his condition during the trip. I gave all the information I could; mostly a report of how the child came to us and how he behaved during the transport. I was not yet an emergency medical technician and couldn't provide anything resembling a medical evaluation.
One of the nurses came in and took charge of the child. I returned to the EMS lobby, where Garfield and Gifre were writing reports. I went outside, where Herb and Danny were cleaning the ambulance up and putting it back together and cleaning it up. It was a shambles. The defibrillator/cardiac monitor leads were tangled and akimbo. Packaging from first-aid supplies was strewn over the benches. The floor was covered with mud, water, footprints, blood, and other semi-liquid substances. Gear bags were open and their contents scattered throughout the patient compartment.
There were backboards and a tangle of velcro-laced spider straps on the concrete pad next to the ambulance. The hospital's standby generator roared in its compound behind a fence next to the ambulance pad. Danny looked at me and said, "Girl, you need a change of clothes!" I looked down at my shirt, which was stained with blood and vomit. My duty trousers had a dark stain between the thighs and knees. Danny said, "You don't smell very good, either." All I could do was laugh.
Once the EMTs-in-charge finished their paperwork, we loaded ourselves onto the ambulance and drove back through dark, power-failed Kilmarnock and onto the highway to Heathsville. There were no lights anywhere, except on top of certain power poles, where strobe lights flashed to alert the power crews that something on those poles needed attention. It was eerie. The ambulance headlights glowed on the now-familiar scene of torn-up trees and drying pavement, but otherwise it was like everything on the planet had disappeared into the night. One of Mid-County's three Eds was driving. He slowed down as we passed Macedonia Baptist Church. Garfield pointed the ambulance's spotlight at the church and saw no damage.