A REAL Emergency!


It’s a three mile trip from the Rhode Island Hospital Emergency Room to where I needed to be: back in quarters at the Allen’s Avenue fire station. ETA six minutes. Everything was going great, light traffic, perfect weather conditions and no road construction in sight. It wasn’t long before I could see the Promised Land in the distance, a little more than a minute away. I thought I could relax. I should have known better.

“The train!” said my partner, who up to this point in the operation had done an admirable job getting us home.

“You have got to be kidding,” I replied, knowing the train would still be creeping across the road long after what I was holding had passed.

“It’s the coal train, slowest moving locomotive on the Eastern Seaboard!”

“Oh. My. God.” I said, wiping beads of sweat from my forehead.

The railway gates closed, blocking our approach. Lights flashed, the train crept toward Allen’s Avenue at 2 MPH. I was doomed unless we took immediate action.

“Turn around, we’ll backtrack to the next intersection, circle around the x-rated bookstore, go up the one way down and take the bridge over the railroad tracks.”

“Let’s roll,” said Mark, who after working side-by-side with me during more than a few long shifts knew far too well the emergent nature of the situation.

As we approached the one-way street and were about to ignore all rules and regulations pertaining to emergency lights and sirens by engaging them, a battalion chief’s vehicle appeared in the distance.

“BOGEY AT 12 O’CLOCK!” Mark exclaimed.

“You have got to be kidding!” I replied, reluctantly taking my fingers off the emergency light switch. I curled my toes and saluted the chief as we passed his vehicle. We were now headed in the exact opposite direction that we needed to be.

“Stop at the Burger King!” I exclaimed, desperate.

“I’m on it!”

Mark wheeled Rescue 1 around and headed toward the burger joint. Thirty seconds away the pain in my abdomen subsided.

“I think I can make it, keep going.”

“Are you sure?”

“I can do this. I can.”

The station was around the next bend, salvation moments away. I saw it in the distance, a beacon, a ray of light, the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. We roared onto the ramp, I rolled under the slowly opening overhead door and duck-walked to the rest room, just in the nick of time.

The body can only take so much stress and Chimichangas before something has to give. Ask a first responder and they’ll tell you; “There’s an emergency, and there’s an EMERGENCY!”



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