The emergency room was busy when Jason arrived; they were prepping for a hit and run victim. The man was unconscious, but still alive. There might be some internal bleeding, but fortunately his wallet contained a blood donor card that identified his type.
The incoming patient was riding his bicycle when a large black SUV hit him and drove off. the police had been notified by a witness who dialed 9-1-1 within minutes of the accident. The ambulance would be arriving with a police escort. Not much else was known.
Jason’s name was at the top of the trauma roster, which meant that he would be responsible for seeing to this patient’s care in ICU until they were out of danger. It wasn’t until the patient was stable and assigned a room that Jason was able to see who the patient was. At that moment, the presence of the state police made sense.
It was Detective Gene Conrad.
The internal bleeding was minimal and easily repaired. There was no evidence of head trauma, so it was just a matter of waiting for him to wake up. Still, Jason decided to keep a close watch on him, in case it wasn’t an accident.
Detective Conrad slept through most of the day, regaining consciousness around dinnertime. Jason was there doing his hourly vitals check when Gene woke up. “Welcome back, Detective Conrad. It’s good to see you awake.”
Gene struggled to sit up. Jason placed his hand on Gene’s shoulder, “don’t try to get up, you’ve been in an accident.”
“Stay calm. I’ll get the doctor in here and we’ll get this tube out of your throat. Your colleagues are chomping at the bit to talk to you. I’ll try to hold them off ’til you’re ready.”
Gene nodded and firmly squeezed Jason’s hand.
Jason smiled back at him and paged the doctor who arrived within minutes of the page. After a quick exam of the patient, she authorized Jason to remove the tube and wrote down a slight change in medication. Jason waited until she left before starting the procedure.
“I need you to stay calm. It shouldn’t hurt, but it will be somewhat uncomfortable.” He slowly removed the tape keeping the breathing tube attached to Gene’s face. “And don’t try to talk right away. Your throat will be a little sore.” He picked up a plastic cup with a straw sticking out of it. “You’ll want to drink some water just after the tube comes out. Are you ready?”
Gene nodded ‘yes’ and Jason put down the cup and slowly started to pull out the tube. Gene gagged a little as it came out, but he didn’t panic. Jason handed him the glass of water and waited for him to finish. “I need to ask you about the accident. Was it really an accident?”
“Who are you?” Gene croaked in a slightly raspy voice. A look of panic flashed across Jason’s face. “Gotcha!” Gene laughed. “It was an accident. Some dog came running out into the street; the driver swerved to miss the dog and hit me instead.”
Jason sighed with relief and, as he was leaving, notified the officer guarding the room that Gene was conscious. While heading to the nurses’ station, he noticed a familiar pair of legs
standing at the desk.