I don't know if you remember this call, but I came across the Life Saving Award the other day while cleaning out a few boxes I had not unpacked. Yes, I'm slow like that. They were neatly stacked and stored. Don't judge me. It was just a few days ago that Blues called me up to just to say he missed me. It was nice to hear from one of the guys. And not only Blues, but Detective Fedora had to tell me the apple tree I sold him finally produced some apples this year...then he had to go in a blaze of glory. Gotta love that police work.
It's a call no one wants to hear...no one wants to take...
But the Dispatcher of the Year sent Blues and I. We were the only ones clear. It had become a hectic night...fights, a robbery, sexual assaults, fights, drunks, family violence, more fights...we only wished we were back on those calls...
Blues demeanor changed instantly. I got quiet. He automatically knew what to do...and we were close. He hauled balls like a good cop would...we came to a screeching halt. I was already out of the car... I had jumped out when it was rolling to a stop.
As we approached the door we were met by a woman...hysterical...clinging to me and pointing upstairs. I ran up the stairs...bi-level house...nice neighborhood...nice family.
He was lying on the floor...tiny....very tiny for his age...blue...very blue...lifeless. He laid there...not moving...not breathing...with a blond woman hovering over him talking to the Dispatcher of the Year and crying hysterically, trying to keep calm.
For some reason, the room got quiet for me. I tuned out the screaming family members. I tuned out Blues. I shut everything down except focusing on the lifeless form in front of me. He was making involuntary gasping noises...but they were far apart...and labored. His lips were purple...I just kept seeing him getting more purple...then gray.
The woman was listening to the voice on the phone and was about to start CPR. I tapped her on the shoulder...
ME: Mam, can I take over for you?
GRANDMA: Honey, let the officers do it..
The woman nodded and moved out of the way. Her tears and sobs were uncontrollable. I didn't want to tell her I thought it was too late....but I prayed. I prayed for the little boy...I prayed to God to help me be strong and help them. In my mind...the only words pounding inside were "breathe, breathe".
The training came automatic. I had done it before, but never on a 4 year old boy...or child...ever. Just adults. I tilted his head back. Nothing....nothing...then an involuntary gasp. He had a weak pulse. I gave him two rescue breaths.
As I did, I remember thinking...not too hard...not too hard...he's tiny..baby breaths. The first one filled his lungs...but not too hard. The second one...same. I kept thinking...be gentle...don't get crazy. Not much response. Shit. God. Please. As I bent down for a third breath, I heard voices in the background screaming. Had to tune them out again.
He felt like the mannequins we practiced on. Cold. Hard. Lifeless.
As I gave him rescue breaths, I kept my right hand on his chest and felt it rise and fall. The air was getting in there. Kept thinking...how am I going to sit here and process this scene if he doesn't make it. There was no time for tears. I was doing my job as I was trained. But it still felt like I had been transported to a place I was extremely uncomfortable and out of place. On the outside...no one could tell I was freaking out.
Suddenly...the boy screamed and cried. By then, Blues had asked the family about the boy's medical issues and found he had an oxygen machine with a nebulizer. I placed it on the boy's mouth and nose and talked to him, held his hand as he clenched his fists and cried, screamed, gasped for air.
ME: Breathe, breathe. It's Ok. We're here to help you. I know you're scared, buddy. Just try to breathe in your medicine. You're Ok.
In my mind, I was like...FUCK WHERE ARE THE FIREMEN ALREADY...THE AMBULANCE? What was minutes seemed like a lifetime.
He kept a tight grasp on my hand. I rubbed him trying to warm his little body. He probably was thinking...LADY, QUIT PETTING ME ALREADY. I couldn't help it. I just kept talking to him, holding the oxygen mask on him and rubbing him. The room started to come back...I could hear their voices...they were crying...but happy tears.
A warm hand rubbed my shoulder. It was a fireman.
FIREMAN STEVE: Keep doing what you are doing. We are going to load and go as soon as the ambulance gets here.
I relayed all the information to FIREMAN JUAN and he took notes. They put pure oxygen on the boy and told me to keep holding his hand, talking to him, rubbing his arm...encouraging him to be brave.
He still wasn't all back to us, but he was slowly regaining consciousness and realizing the drama around him. He didn't fight us, but he screamed and screamed.
BLUES: Cry, buddy, cry. If we can hear you, we know you are getting air. Just cry.
I could tell he was just as scared as I was. He had done very well with the family...keeping them calm...consoling them. Getting information.
The ambulance arrived. FIREMAN STEVE told them the story.
FIREMAN STEVE: Some color has come back to him since I've been here. Wouldn't you say?
ME: Yes. He was blue when I got here. He is looking much better.
It was hustle and bustle around me. FIREMAN JUAN tapped me on the arm.
FIREMAN JUAN: Ok. You can let go. We're going to lift him and run him to the ambulance.
I'm pretty sure I was in shock. I just knelt there in the same place for a little while, then stood up.
ME: Where's mom?
MOM: I'm here. I'm here.
ME: Come on, let's get you in the ambulance with your son.
She nodded her head. Tears were streaming down her face.
GRANDMA: Officer, officer? Thank you. Thank you so much to both of you. Thank God.
I smiled a little and nodded my head. I didn't want her to see I was fighting back tears...but Blues knew. He and I rushed out to the police car.
ME: That scared the FUCK out of me. I haven't felt that scared in 14 years since my first year of being a cop.
BLUES: I thought he was dead. You did so good.
ME: You did too. It was good team work.
DISPATCH: 228, 96 copy for a bar fight.
ME: Shit. We can't even catch a rest. I'm starting to shake, coming down from the adrenaline. Guess I'll have to pump it back up.
BLUES: GOTTA. PUMP. YOU. UP.
ME: Thank you.
BLUES: For what?
ME: For going back to normal.
BLUES: Is that a compliment?