James could not believe he was in the position in which he currently found himself. The paramedic kneeling next to him on the street was applying a tourniquet to his partner and second in command, Rudolph, as she attempted to stem the flow of blood from his mangled arm. The burning wreckage of the car in which they had been traveling lit the scene with a flickering orange glow. This was the first time he had ever dialed 911. Hell, it was the first time he had reached out and contacted human authorities for help ever in his 1,674 years of life, or unlife. It was something he never thought he would do, yet here he was, helping the human paramedic he had called treat his colleague in the street.
“Keep him talking and awake, James. We’ve got to keep him coherent, or he’ll start to shift and I’ll never get this bleeding stopped.” James knew Brynne Garvey was an experienced paramedic with the Elk City Fire Department. She was part of a new pilot program called “Station U” that reached out to provide emergency medical services to a previously underserved part of the community, the Unusuals.
James had only known her for a few short weeks. He had been skeptical about the intentions of the elderly ER physician Doctor Spirelli when he approached James about providing some community medical services for his subjects in the Elk City region. He called it a community paramedic pilot project that, if successful, could be used to serve Unusuals in other parts of the country. Key members of the local human leadership at all levels knew of the presence of Unusuals. They were aware of the creatures of myth, legend, and sometimes nightmare, living alongside the human populations in most parts of the world.
For the last hundred and fifty years or so, there had been an uneasy truce of sorts and an effort to integrate Unusuals, albeit in secret, into society. They weren’t living in the open yet. He was sure the humans weren’t ready for that step yet. The average person would soil their pants at the knowledge that the creatures of myth and legend, long used to scare children at bedtime, were real and lived next door. The literal witch hunts and monster-killing rampages of the middle ages were gone, but the cultural memories of short-lived creatures like humans were tenacious.
And yet, he had reason to hope. He had lost many friends to the hunts over the years, and he had to admit that in the early days, Unusuals returned the favor, by hunting and killing humans. But in the last century there had dawned a time of hopeful enlightenment. He had seen many prejudices shrugged aside by civilized societies in recent years. Certainly there had been some growing pains in those societies. Slavery had ended in most of the world over a hundred years ago, but the underlying prejudices still lurked under the surface in some places and with some portions of the world and national community. Could humans, as a whole, rid themselves of the prejudices of their cultural nightmares, ingrained into their very myth and, in some cases, religious beliefs?
Some humans had found ways to coexist alongside Unusuals. Some had been able to live and let live. He had come to know many of them over the years. There had been a need from time to time to act in an official capacity to work against Unusuals who didn’t subscribe to the policy to stay out of human conflicts and wars. It had been difficult to stay neutral during the conflict in Europe 70 years before. The Nazi push to eliminate the Jews had been hard to stomach because so many of the Jews had been accepting of living peacefully alongside Unusuals over the years. Eventually, the enlistment of some particularly nasty shapeshifter tribes into certain SS battalions shifted the balance, and the Unusual community stepped up to join the world cause against fascism. In hindsight, it had taken them too long to come into the war and take sides. Too many innocents had died as a result of their complacency. But, it had inadvertently solved another problem.
The Unusuals were accepted by the leadership of most countries now. They didn’t come “out” to the general public but became integrated as a sort of shadow government was formed to work alongside the human leadership to promote cooperation for the common good. There were Unusuals serving in various official jobs including the human military special forces units, and things were looking up. All of which had led one aged human ER physician to reach out and seek a way to provide medical services to the Unusuals living in his community. He had known of the Unusuals from his prior military service and wanted to find a way to serve them.
Doc Spirelli assembled a team of other ER physicians, nurses, paramedics and police leaders to integrate the Unusuals’ population into their 911 system. They arranged to provide specially trained personnel at all steps along the way to provide care from the street to the hospital. There would always be members of the ER staff on duty who knew about Unusuals in the community. There was also a dedicated emergency medical services unit set up with paramedics in SUVs to respond to medical problems. James had wondered how it would all work out. The answer had been a resounding success. His subjects in the Unusual population had responded with cautious interest in openly getting access to human health care services. In the past few weeks and months, there had been many opportunities for them to make use of the ER or 911 services and most cases had been resolved without even requiring hospitalization. Some of that was due to most Unusuals’ heightened healing abilities. In other instances, it was still an issue of trust in the human officials, and the patients had refused transport to the hospital. They were treated as well as possible on the scene of the incident, and the paramedics went on their way. Overall, he supposed he would call it a success.
Still, he had never expected to have to utilize those services himself until that truck had barreled through the red light into the intersection and smashed into his small red sports car. Even with his heightened reflexes and strength James had been unable to avoid the collision and in the end all he could do was brace himself for the impact. His passenger, Rudolph, had been talking at the time while flipping through his smartphone and had not gotten that much warning. It was why he was injured so severely. James had recovered quickly, realized he smelled gasoline, and pulled his friend from the wreckage. Unfortunately, Rudy’s arm had been pinned between the sports car and the side of the truck.
There was no time to try and pry it out gracefully. There had been no choice. He had just pulled to get away from the fire, one of the few things of which he was truly afraid. Burns didn’t heal in a vampire. The human truck driver climbed from the cab, surprisingly unhurt and had looked around then ran off. The breeze wafted the faint hint of alcohol towards the sidewalk where James had dragged his companion. He thought about running in pursuit and exacting some revenge, but the sudden heat of the fiery explosion from the wreck distracted him and then all he could think of was his friend. As a Lycan or werewolf, Rudy would probably heal in full if he survived the initial injury, but the bleeding wouldn’t stop. James was sure if he couldn’t get the bleeding to stop Rudy wouldn’t survive long enough to heal. He reached into his pocket and removed his cell phone, staring at it in his pale palm for a few seconds before swiping to engage the keypad on the device and dial 911. Time to see if the system works. They should have his phone number in the computer-aided dispatch system, and it would key him as an Unusual so they would send the right crews to the scene. He had to get help here.
“911, state the nature of your emergency,” said the woman’s voice on the other end of the phone.
“My friend and I have been in a car accident,” James said. “I’m ok but my friend is unconscious and bleeding, and I can’t get it to stop.”
“I see you’re on a cell phone, can you give me your location, address or a cross-street?”
“Yes, I’m at the corner of Route 40 and Landing Lane in Elk City. Please hurry up!” James looked around trying to decide if he should just pick Rudy up and try and run to the ER. He decided it would take him ten to fifteen minutes to get there even at his best super-human speed. He put the phone on speaker and continued to answer the dispatcher’s questions while he followed the instructions she gave to continue to apply pressure to the wound. It was difficult because the wound was a whole series of ragged tears to Rudy’s arm from his mangled hand, all the way up to the elbow.
“We have a paramedic unit and an ambulance on the way, and police officers are responding as well. Please stay on the line with me until they get there,” the woman said over the speaker.
“Ok, I will.” James listened to her while he also picked up the sound of approaching sirens far in the distance. He guessed they were still several miles away – too far for a human to hear them yet. It was late, and there was no traffic on the road and no bystanders had come. That was good because he was afraid that Rudy would wake up and start to shift to his wolf form. He was not sure what he would do if that were to happen. Rudy groaned, and his eyes fluttered open.
“What, what happened?” Rudy asked.
“Just lay still, Rudy. There was a car accident, and your arm is torn up. I’m trying to stop the bleeding.” James pushed at the werewolf’s chest with a bloody hand as he tried to sit up. “I called for help and paramedics are on the way.” As he said that, a white SUV with flashing red and white LED lights and a blaring siren turned the corner and drove the 200 yards up the road to their location at the next intersection. A diminutive young woman in a white short-sleeved uniform shirt and navy blue cargo pants climbed out of the driver’s side of the SUV. She walked quickly to the rear lift gate and opened it, pulling out a large duffle bag and grabbed the handle of a heart monitor before coming over to where James sat on the curb with Rudy. James noticed the special ink stamped on that back of her right hand that signified, to his ultraviolet spectrum vision, she was a member of the specialized Station U paramedic team.
“I’m Brynne Garvey from Station U. Is it just the two of you?” she asked as she looked around for other patients. Her brown hair pulled up in a ponytail swung around her shoulder as she did. She turned back to them and looked at James. “Are you ok, sir?”
“Uh, yes,” James stammered. “I am fine. I’m James, and this is Rudy. There was another person driving that truck, but he got himself out and ran off in that direction.” He nodded down the street. “I pulled my friend here out of the car before it caught fire, but I can’t stop the bleeding.”
The paramedic pursed her lips as she quickly took in the scene, then reached into a side pocket of her cargo pants and pulled out a black roll of webbing. He heard the Velcro rip open as she opened the tourniquet and applied it to his friend’s arm midway between the elbow and armpit. The webbing had Velcro along its length and a stick of some kind attached in the middle. After applying the strap, she began to twist the stick, tightening the tourniquet on Rudy’s arm.
“Ouch!” Rudy shouted, reaching up to forcefully push her away.
She dodged the arm and looked at James. “I don’t know how strong he is or how strong you are, but you have to keep that arm down and out of my face while I tighten this. It’s going to hurt a lot worse before I’m done.”
James grabbed Rudy’s flailing arm and pulled it back down to his side. His friend and he had always jested about who was the strongest. James was surprised to find that his friend had not been kidding about possibly being able to take him in a stand-up fight. He let go of the injured arm and used both hands to hold Rudy’s free arm in place. Rudy was starting to growl.
“He’s a Lycan,” James said, grunting with the effort of holding his friend still. “I’m afraid he’s going to shift if he starts to lose consciousness again.”
“Okay,” the woman said. “Once I can get the bleeding stopped, we’ll see what we can do to keep him awake and lucid.” She watched the oozing end of Rudy’s arm and continued to twist the windlass stick on the tourniquet until the bleeding slowed and then stopped. She used the built-in clip to lock the windlass in place, holding the tension, glanced at her watch and wrote the time on the white tape stitched on the webbing next to the windlass.
“Okay, Rudy, I think I’ve got that bleeding under control but that tourniquet is going to hurt like a bitch until we get you to the trauma center.”
James quirked an eyebrow at her frank bluntness. Rudy merely nodded.
“I’m going to get some vital signs now and get an IV started to try to get some fluids into you while I see if we need to get your blood pressure up. You’ve lost a lot of blood. Alright?” She watched her patient as he nodded up at her grimacing.
She turned to James. “James you’re doing a great job. Just keep him talking and awake while I get some things going here to help him. You’re sure you’re not injured?”
“I assure you. I am fine.” He was surprised at himself taking orders from this woman. She was impressive as she took control of the scene and began immediately treating his friend. It had been a long time since a human woman had impressed him so, but then he didn’t associate with them that often. He turned his attention back to Rudy, talking to him quietly while he watched her work.
The paramedic applied a blood pressure cuff to Rudy’s good arm, slid a probe over his finger and placed four sticky squares to his chest to which she attached wires from her monitor. She turned it on, pushed a few buttons and then began setting up the IV bag and tubing. James could hear the other sirens drawing closer, but they were still a few minutes away. She pulled out a needle and slid it expertly into Rudy’s arm below the blood pressure cuff. She then attached the IV tubing and held the bag up to watch the fluid begin to flow by gravity into her patient.
As she did that, James saw two police cars arrive on the scene soon followed by an ambulance that pulled up next to Brynne’s SUV. Two more paramedics hopped out and jogged back to get the stretcher out of the ambulance. One called over to her as he did so. “Brynne, what do you need?”
“Nothing, just the stretcher right now.” She called back. Then, lowering her voice to a whisper, she said to James. “They don’t know who you two are so we’re just going to play it cool. I’ll ride with you and Rudy to the hospital and have the second paramedic drive my unit behind us. If anything happens in the back of the ambulance on the way, we’ll have to deal with it ourselves, ok?”
“Agreed,” James responded.
Rudy looked around at the ambulance with a look of startled fear in his eyes. “I’m not sure I want to go to the hospital. I never liked those places.”
“It’ll be fine, Rudy,” Brynne assured him. “I’ll call ahead and let them know we’re coming, and they’ll have a team who know all about you and will keep things on the down-low for you.”
The two new paramedics rolled up with a stretcher and placed it next to Rudy. Brynne continued to maintain control of the scene, speaking up immediately with instructions. “Randall, you and Derrick get ready to help me load our patient Rudy here up onto the stretcher. I’m going to ride with him to the hospital since I started care. Once we get him loaded up, Derrick, you can follow us in my SUV.”
“Your patient, your call, Brynne. You’ve been doing this longer than I have, and that arm looks gnarly,” Randall said with a grin.
The two paramedics helped her lift Rudy onto the stretcher and then lifted the stretcher up to waist height before rolling it over to the back of the ambulance. Brynne pointed James to a bench seat in the back on one side and then climbed into the ambulance ahead of her patient. Once Rudy was loaded, she checked the vitals on the monitor, looked at her patient, then Brynne buckled a seat belt across her lap as she sat down in a bucket seat at the head of the stretcher.
“Buckle your seatbelt, please,” She said, pointing at the straps on either side of where he sat on the padded bench seat.
James chuckled and held up a hand. “It would take a lot more than another car crash to do me any harm, I assure you.”
“Buckle up, please, sir. This ambulance isn’t going anywhere until we’re all strapped in back here.”
“Alright,” James acquiesced. He was surprised again how quickly she took control of things around her. This paramedic was a strong woman. He had not met a human like her for many, many years.
She nodded and turned to the tiny hallway up to the cab of the ambulance. “We’re good to go back here, Randall.” The ambulance lurched into gear and with a roar of the diesel engine and a blaring siren, drove away from the still-burning wreckage just as the firefighters arrived to douse the flames.