It really was never a question. I knew, the second I passed my Basic and started my Paramedic class, exactly where I wanted to work. I didn't care about the call volume, I didn't care about the risks, I didn't care about any of that. It was like this posting grabbed my soul and just wouldn't let go.
Gotham City EMS.
How can you resist? I mean, it's one of the crime capitals of the world. Every night will be an adventure! Plus, each shift is paid time and a half hazard pay, although that gets eaten up by insurance costs.
Who am I fooling? No one, not my family, not my girlfriend, not my instructors, believes for a second that I'm picking Gotham City for the money, or for the adventure. They know I'm looking for a bat.
Which is fine, I guess. I mean, some people track celebutants, some people follow sports stars. I like costumed vigilantes that dress like bats. We all have our issues.
It wasn't for a few weeks that I actually saw one. I mean, I had seen some shadows that my proctor told me was one of them, but it was really indistinct. And I had seen a few funny shaped boomerangs, or whatever you want to call them, lying around a scene as I patched up a mugger once. But I was almost out of my probationary period before I actually saw one.
I was surprised, REALLY surprised. I was expecting someone older, not some perky college coed. But I'm getting ahead of myself. I should start with what happened.
We were dispatched out at 0213 for a standard sick call. After a week on the job, you begin to hate hearing that over the radio; after three months, you start turning to your captain with the "Tell her I loved her" look. We had no idea what we were walking in to, but it didn't sound too bad, and dispatch said that they were on the line and it was quiet. My proctor told me later that he had a feeling, but it was vague, and if he felt anything, I didn't feel it. It seemed like a regular call to me.
We were walking up the steps to the second floor of the apartment when it happened. I remember hearing the shot as it zinged past me. They never train you for that part of the job in class. They drill you on scene safety, but never what to do when you're facing fire from a psychopath with a hand cannon. Not having any better idea, I dropped to the floor. My proctor Kelly took the shot in the arm, and started bleeding heavily. I'm a little proud to say that without even thinking about it, I had pressure on that wound and a tourniquet ready just in case. I'm even more proud of Kelly, getting his hand on the radio, calling it in before the psychopath could do anything more. The clown shot the radio after that. He wasn't too pleased that we had spoiled his fun, but he said that there was still plenty of time.
Apparently, this murderous clown had read an article in a magazine, about some field training that military medics go through, where they shoot a goat and then have to keep it alive for 2 days or something like that. I'm not sure on the specifics, but he waved that cannon in my face and ushered me through a broken doorframe, into what used to be an apartment.
I'm really glad for compartmentalization, because otherwise I wouldn't have been able to deal with the scene. It was a family. He had shot and sliced them all, and they were still alive. Barely alive, but somehow holding on, and I was the only medic in the room. Something tells me that the guy in the purple suit wasn't really willing to help me stabilize the family, so I was going to have to do all the work myself.
He sat there. It looked like a comfortable recliner, and he sat in it, his legs crossed, gun idly bouncing on his knee as he told me to get to work in the middle of the living room. Four patients, each with multiple stab wounds, major lacerations, and what appeared to be gunshot wounds. Right away, I could hear the youngest crying hard, calling for mommy and daddy. I knew he wasn't a priority, yet. I thought I could hear sirens in the distance, but I had no idea if they were for us, or for something else. This is Gotham City, after all. I moved my eyes quickly to the remaining three patients.
16 year old female, shallow respirations, pale, conscious, alert and oriented by 4, anxious, major laceration with protruding organs in her belly, and a GSW to her right upper chest. No palpable radial pulse, but she was talking to me. Red tag.
Late 30s early 40s female, gasping respirations, hands pressed over a t-shirt pressed into her thigh, trying to staunch a femoral bleed. Black tag.
Early to mid 40s male, screaming in pain, with GSWs to his elbows, wrists, and knees. Each upper arm seemed to have 17 lacerations, spaced about a quarter of an inch apart. They were bleeding, but easily controlled. Yellow tag.
That out of the way, I dropped next to the father, and pressed some gauze pads over the lacerations. The gunshot wounds weren't bleeding, so I didn't worry about them too much. That taken care of, I went over to look at the daughter. I covered the protrusion as best I could with a sterile sheet, and did a quick decompression on her chest to relieve the pneumothorax that was developing. I started a line, but I really needed to get her to a hospital, and fast.
I turned around to face the maniac, to let him know that I needed to fly the girl out, when I saw it through the window - a shapeless form of black and purple and yellow. I don't know what I was expecting, but in an instant, it had crashed through the glass and into the clown, knocking the gun away. There was a fight, with all the requisite violence, and I tried to get a look at the youngest son; one gunshot to his lower leg, not bleeding, one scalp laceration that his hair seemed to have stopped. The girl in black and the clown exchanged some words, and the clown ran off. She started to go after him, but hesitated. I guess she talked into a Bluetooth or something, because she came back and dropped to do CPR on the mother.
I remember her eyes when I told her to stop, this look of pain, of guilt, but not the powerless destructive kind. The kind of guilt that you feel when you think you've screwed up, and you promise yourself that you'll be better, smarter, faster, stronger. I wanted to tell her that it would be okay, but we're trained not to do that, not to offer false hope. Instead, I simply told her that I needed her help with other patients, and that we needed a helicopter for the daughter. I have no idea who she spoke to, but I'll be damned if we didn't have a helicopter there in one minute, and the daughter packaged up and on her way to Mercy Hospital. I managed to get the father, son, and Kelly loaded into my ambulance with her help, and we left to meet up with the daughter at Mercy.
I was given three weeks of paid vacation, free sessions with therapists, and even job offers across the country. No one could understand why I didn't take the job offers. Hell, even sometimes I can't understand why I didn't take the job offers. But I can remember her eyes. I remember the way she held herself, and I remember how she spoke. She told me it gets better, because it couldn't get any worse.
When she told me that, I wanted to slap her. I wanted to rage at her, remind her that a woman died in there because some nut bar thought it would be amusing. I told her that. She looked at me and told me that 3 people lived because someone was there to help. Three people lived because someone kept their cool under pressure and knew what to do. Next time, we'll be better, but we shouldn't lose sight of what we did accomplish.
In EMS, we work on a 24/72 schedule. That means we're on call for 24 hours, and then get 72 hours off. Near as I can figure, Bat
Batgirl? Batwoman? Batchick? BatBlonde? I didn't ask her name, but anyway, near as I can figure, she's on call every day, all day, and doesn't get a day off. That means something to me. So when people ask me why I didn't take the job offers and get out of Gotham, I can really only tell them that I can't let her down. She helped me, so I want to be there to return the favor.