Thursday evening was typically busy at Trent Mercy Hospital. The emergency waiting room was half full with what was described as a normal docket of inbound patients; the reasons that brought these people in seeking medical help ranged from abrupt unknown pains, to dizzy spells, as well as injuries that spanned the entire body.
An older Hispanic couple sat near a corner of the room. The man, still in his landscaping uniform, cradled a haphazardly bandaged left hand. The bandage itself stained with old blood.
A couple of repeat visitors sat in quiet frustration watching one of the two wall-mounted televisions without really seeing the programs being aired.
The room’s washed out lime-green paint and over-waxed off-white floor only exacerbated the flickering fluorescent light. It seemed to make even the healthy companions of the ill and injured feel poorly themselves.
The room was adjacent to the main emergency entry doors. For those that were relegated to the waiting room by the receiving nurse’s station, watching for new arrivals became the only pass-time worth indulging in while they sat with their as yet untreated ailments.
The emergency doors had been closed for some time this evening; no new arrivals of any kind had appeared. The waiting room denizens were subdued after having hounded the nurses with questions: when will the doctor see them? Is the bleeding going to stop by itself? Can anyone of them provide a dose of Methadone?
Having fielded questions from the patients, and documented each of their personal information, the four nurses on duty spoke in semi-whispers, pleased and relieved at the unexpected respite they had been enjoying for the last half hour.
The small amber turret lights mounted to either side of the emergency doors began flashing announcing an arriving ambulance.
The nurses looked up and saw the lights. With a collective sigh the nurses prepared to meet the ambulance. At least one of the three doctors working the emergency plaza would be coming from the doctor’s lounge in response to the emergency page sent out minutes before the two amber turrets began flashing.
The waiting room patients and their accompanying friends and family all shifted their attention to the emergency doors in anticipation.
A dying whir of the siren became audible, its wail now dropping the last few octaves, then silence.
A moment later the doors burst open with two medical personnel wheeling a gurney. Strapped to the gurney was a young woman.
Seeing no blood staining the sheet covering the arriving patient the waiting room audience lost interest and turned back to their own afflictions.