Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Definition of "Emergency"

I always marveled at the contradiction that is the "Emergency Room". The very name implies a place of urgent and immediate action, where things are swiftly remedied in an efficient manner. Of course, if anyone has had that sort of experience in the ER, I would rather assume that some unfortunate accident befell you in the Twilight Zone forcing you to visit the establishment.

I never gravitated towards the ER television series, either. I think there are only so many times a show can advertise its next installment as the "most shocking" or "most unbelievable". As the true-to-life Emergency Room requires about three hours of your precious time during which you will mostly be sitting with elderly people watching "As the World Turns", it isn't the picture of the utter chaos of human Armageddon, either.

Lots of pilgrims end up in the Emergency Room for one reason or another. Even before I joined the on-site cast, one interpreter came into the Visitor's Center with his hands entirely bandaged. He had been working in the Village that morning, when a large group of teenagers with a Christian school entered the small confines of the house in which he was sitting. The hearth, right by the door, was being tended through the obstacle course of new visitors, who were trying to pack themselves inside for want of warmth and entertainment. All of the girls had long skirts on, and given the cool, overcast weather, a number of them wore either tights or nylons. One student, standing with her back to the hearth fire, took one unfortunate step backwards and the hem of her skirt lit up. It would take only seconds for her nylons to be sacrificed as well, but the interpreter present was quicker to act than think. He dashed over to her, dodging furniture, people and props, grabbed the bewildered girl, put her over his lap and literally beat the fire out with his bare hands. The result was first, a charred skirt with literally an eight inch gaping hole, second, a pair of very burned and blistered hands leading to a trip to the local Emergency Room, and third, several days off for the altruistically injured interpreter.

Fortunately, I was never physically compromised by working in the Village between a few singed petticoats, a handful of cuts, and even sitting on a nest of yellow jackets (there has never been a moment during which I was more grateful for the several layers of wool covering my lower quarters since then). I did accompany my friend, Lori, to the Emergency Room after her having been stepped on by a cow. She was leading Rose, the local livestock, from the grazing field outside of the town gates back into her pen, when both of them stepped in the same place at the same time, the cow's reflexes slightly behind her own. She said a white light flashed and she crumpled in the field. Thankfully, this was observed by another interpreter, Asia, who quickly sounded the alarm to get the nearest and most capable help. Although the Emergency Room was close by--perhaps a mile or so--none of us wanted Lori to go alone, so I drove her there. We arrived at about 4:30 and the whole process ended five hours later, during which she was x-rayed. The damage amounted to some wear and tear due to crushing, but nothing actually broken.

If something WERE broken, I am certain we would have been in there until at least 10.

The local interpreters knew where we were, and most of them stopped by for a while. I think the Emergency Room went from inexplicably stagnant to lively. No need for a weekly series.


Matt said...

When I dislocated my left shoulder skiing this winter, I had to wait five or so hours in the ER.

I think that's how they structure the system. It's a bitch when they have to keep checking your vitals because they "expired."

You have a strange life, I think.

booda baby said...

Oh that's so funny! Who'd have guessed there was that much danger? (yes. Yes I do see the irony.)

Princess Banter said...

When I had strep throat, I had to wait 2 long hours just to get penicillin from the sodding doctor... I had to get into ER cuz it was a holiday and all the clinics were closed. Sigh, I hate ER. And agreeably, I cannot believe there are a few tv series that make money out of it...