He sat, exhausted. His hands dangled loosely between his knees, his head bowed in defeat.
The night had started out quiet, no emergencies, not even a paper cut amongst the staff. But, suddenly, as if some invisible hand had turned the key and opened the gate to hell, they started pouring in.
It started as a trickle, then quickly became a flood as victim after victim came through the Emergency doors.
First to arrive were the victims from a massive pile-up on the 405 freeway. Two had been DOA, one had died in route and three had died in the treatment rooms at Rampart Emergency.
Out of the twenty-something victims, he had lost six. He knew, in his mind, there was nothing he could do for the three who had died at the scene or the one on the way to the hospital, but the other three; he had tried so hard!
He sat, quiet and still as memories filed through his mind. An hour after the 405 incident, came more injuries, these from a factory explosion.
Men and women, burned beyond his help, yet retaining a precarious hold on life. Five of the victims now lay in Rampart’s ICU Burn Unit; one had died. The other victims, ten in all, had been treated and released.
A short break in the activity gave the young doctor a chance to relax and contemplate the disasters he had witnessed in these people’s lives. The break was short lived, however, as the ground began to tremble and heave. The quake was small, in seismic terms, but enough to cause major injuries in the sleeping city.
The sudden influx of more victims and casualties stressed the already over-stressed staff as they scrambled to meet this new disaster. Doctors came in from off duty to help in the emergency. Off duty nurses came in, uncalled, and volunteered their time.
The young doctor scrambled from victim to victim. Cries from the injured and dying surrounded him. He blocked the cries and sights, concentrating on each individual victim.
Finally, the last victim was treated and sent to a room. The last scrape, bump and bruise had been seen and treated as well. Most of the victims had been treated and sent home, others had been admitted for observation or further treatment. Still, others would never again see the sun rise, or hear a bird sing.
So now, here he sat, totally exhausted, dirty and sweaty, yet unable to sleep. He expected to hear his name called any time for some new emergency. His adrenaline was fading.
Someone entered the room, and softly called his name, but he was too tired to hear. He felt firm, gentle hands pushing him down until he was lying on the couch where, moments before, he had been sitting. He heard a soft voice telling him something, but he was unable to comprehend the words.
A blanket was placed across his shoulders. He struggled to open his eyes, and tell whom-ever had given him the blanket, “Thanks.”
Darkness engulfed his tired mind; its soft, velvety welcome surrounded him and carried him down into the oblivion of sleep.
Dixie McCall watched the sleeping intern as his features relaxed into deep sleep. A smile tugged at the corners of her full lips. She turned to leave the student lounge, stopping only to glance once more at the exhausted man asleep on the couch. She paused to flip off the light, throwing the room into twilight.
The door closed softly, and Mike Morton, newest intern, and first black intern at Rampart General, slept on, oblivious to the activity around him.