Level 3, then the sirens

The Batman phone rang, different from the other telephones’ ring. One of the nurses who was closest to the phone immediately picked it up and started taking notes. She hung up the phone and communicated to the clerk, level 3, respiratory. The clerk’s page on the loudspeaker announced to the hospital, level 3, respiratory in the ER. I asked someone what was the black phone for and she said it was incoming. I heard the sirens first and the nurse said 5 minutes. 5 minutes was actually a lot of time, setting up the room and waiting for the ambulance to arrive. The patient was not breathing. All the other patients in the ER would have to wait. They were not actively dying.

My shift was nearly over but I assisted the family when they arrived. I told them to wait in the waiting room and someone would come get them when the time was appropriate. Later the nurse told me to get the family. I saw 3 fragile people in front of me and I said only one person come with me to speak with the ER team, the rest of you just wait and you will take turns. They looked like they were ready to burst into tears. I could not tell them anything else about this patient because the team was actively working on saving his life. Exhausted from the 7 hour day of volunteering, I biked home.

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