Itâ€™s a three mile trip from the Rhode Island Hospital Emergency Room to where I needed to be: back in quarters at the Allenâ€™s Avenue fire station. ETA six minutes. Everything was going great, light traffic, perfect weather conditions and no road construction in sight. It wasnâ€™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.
â€œThe train!â€ said my partner, who up to this point in the operation had done an admirable job getting us home.
â€œYou 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.
“Itâ€™s the coal train, slowest moving locomotive on the Eastern Seaboard!”
“Oh. My. God.â€ I said, wiping beads of sweat from my forehead.
The railway gates closed, blocking our approach. Lights flashed, the train crept toward Allenâ€™s Avenue at 2 MPH. I was doomed unless we took immediate action.
â€œTurn around, weâ€™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.”
“Letâ€™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 chiefâ€™s vehicle appeared in the distance.
â€œBOGEY AT 12 Oâ€™CLOCK!â€ Mark exclaimed.
â€œYou have got to be kidding!â€ I replied, reluctantly taking my fingers off the emergency light switch.Â 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.
â€œStop at the Burger King!â€ I exclaimed, desperate.
â€œIâ€™m on it!â€
Mark wheeled Rescue 1 around and headed toward the burger joint. Thirty seconds away the pain in my abdomen subsided.
â€œI think I can make it, keep going.”
â€œAre you sure?â€
â€œI can do this. I can.â€
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 theyâ€™ll tell you; â€œThereâ€™s an emergency, and thereâ€™s an EMERGENCY!â€