It happened during one of the shifts when I was working in the ambulance. The duty turned out to be very difficult. I really wanted to stretch my legs, which were buzzing with fatigue, somewhere on the couch. But then, as luck would have it, a fire started in one of the schools of Maikuduk (Karaganda district). At that time, all the other teams were busy on calls, I had to go. Meanwhile, a blizzard was raging over the city…
On the radio, we were informed that during the fire, a school caretaker jumped out of a third-floor window.
Firefighters running around the floors with water hoses did not immediately find him. When this happened, they called an ambulance, dragged the watchman into the room and ran on to extinguish the fire.
An intern intern was assigned to me for this duty, completely inexperienced, and besides, she was still eight months pregnant. I have never met a more timid, insecure person.
Well, at least the driver did not get capricious, accommodating, to match his surname – Mirolyubov.
When we got to the Botagoz cinema, which is not far from the destination, we saw a fire truck standing on the road.
– Is there a way to school? my driver asked the firefighters.
“No,” they answered him. – Go to the factory, and take a detour from it. And then, maybe, you’ll have to walk to the school itself.
Our “rafik” crawled barely, slipping every now and then.
– That’s it, we’ve arrived! – the driver sighed resignedly. – The tire is flat, it needs to be changed.
The darkness was impenetrable, the lanterns went out due to a break in the wires. Just a terrible picture. And we need to get out while the driver puts the spare tire. We barely got out of the cab, the wind mercilessly ruffled my old working fur coat, blowing it as if it were made of gauze, not artificial fur. I pulled out a pocket flashlight, illuminated the wheel. The driver took out a spare tire and a jack. The cold shackled his hands, his movements were slow, awkward.
Crooked fingers did not obey, and it was inconvenient to work in mittens. Unscrewing the nuts, with grief in half, he changed the wheel.
Chilled, soaked, teeth chattering from the cold, we returned to the cabin. The snow, packed into all the folds of clothing, began to melt in the warmth. Shoes, clothes – everything became wet, we felt even more chills from the dampness. Flakes of snow were beating furiously against the windshield so that it was rippling in the eyes. The wipers smeared snow porridge on the glass. Perhaps at least two hours have passed since the call, and we still could not get to the place. During this time, the victim could have died, and the ill-fated school could have burned down. And it’s all the fault of the damn weather!
Finally, flashing beacons began to appear in the distance. There was a fire truck on the roadway. There was no further road, I had to walk. Gusts of wind threw prickly snow in his face. It was very hard to walk, snow was stuffed into boots, by the collar. No gate, not even a fence is visible, everything is hidden behind a white veil. At random, waist-deep, bogged down in loose snow, we trudged forward. Finally found a school. Here is the main entrance. In the foyer of the school, sooty firefighters scurried back and forth, dragging long sleeves behind them. It smelled of burning, the floor was flooded with water.
– Where is the victim?
– It’s lying there on the floor.
The sight that opened our eyes was not for the faint of heart. On the floor on his back, soaked to the skin, with an earthy complexion, his teeth chattering from the cold, lay a guy who looked about twenty-five years old. His jacket and shirt were pulled up, his bare stomach was visible, covered with goosebumps, his lips turned blue…
– How long has he been lying here? Why didn’t you even cover him with anything, didn’t you put him in a dry place? He’s in shock!
The answer I heard just shocked me:
– Our business is to extinguish the fire, not to treat people! We are not doctors!
– And if it’s purely human, then how? Just cover a person, move them to a dry place so that they don’t lie in a puddle?
There was no response. The guy had an open hip fracture with displacement (a bone was sticking out of a torn pant leg), a fracture of several ribs, a concussion. The help had to be provided alone, the intern stupidly hovered nearby, choosing the role of a spectator, without taking any part in what was happening.
“What an assistant I have,” I thought at that moment. – Yes, even on the verge of pregnancy. It would be better to stay at home than to foolishly follow me in this weather.”
– Tell me what happened here? – I asked the senior of the firefighters a question.
– And instead of guarding the school, – the fireman explained, – he called his friends, arranged a party here. We thought that the authorities would not find out. Arbitrarily opened a class on basic military training, got to the rifles and let’s shoot at targets. And then something was accidentally set on fire there. They couldn’t put it out themselves, that’s the result!
– He has already punished himself, he is very ill now, believe me. Yes, he will still have to answer for his art,” I summed up. – But now he needs help. And to carry a stretcher, we will need at least four people.
The blizzard did not stop, it seemed that the wind became even fiercer. Firefighters, on the instructions of the senior, first brought a stretcher from the car, put the victim on them and cheerfully trotted to the car. Gusts of wind now and then tore off the patient’s pea jacket, with which I covered him.
– Thank you very much, – I thanked my assistants. – Please help me get him to the hospital proper, if you are allowed to travel with us. And then you understand our situation!
I nodded significantly in the direction of the intern, who hadn’t said a word all the way.
“We understand you,” the firefighters replied, “but we can’t leave the facility, that’s the order.
We drove back without any special adventures, but suddenly a new obstacle arose: there was no road from the gate to the emergency room, it completely skidded. When trying to drive, the car got bogged down with all four wheels. I opened the door and immediately fell knee-deep in loose snow. With difficulty shifting her legs, she hobbled to the emergency room to ask for a shovel. Armed with shovels (the driver had his own), we began to dig out in order to at least pass back.
“How are we going to carry him?” I thought. And then she couldn’t stand it; she told the intern:
– Why did you even go out to practice in this weather? She just shrugged her shoulders in response.
And then I look: not far from us, behind a snow shroud, gray Zhiguli can be seen, and two men are sitting in them. They, apparently, were also stuck and, realizing the hopelessness of the situation, decided to wait out the elements.
They turned on the engine, the stove – they won’t freeze.
– I beg you, kind people, help me carry a stretcher to the emergency room, – I turned to the men sitting in the “Zhiguli”.
– How not to help? We will help, since this is the case!
When the patient was already lying on a gurney in the emergency room, I was suddenly seized with a dull indifference to everything around me. The body was as if filled with lead, the eyelids were heavy, the legs moved with difficulty, as if heavy weights were hanging on them, wet clothes pulled to the ground, the head was thinking hard. In a warm room, I was so exhausted that I was in a kind of half-sleep, ready to fall right on the floor and fall asleep. But I had to go on, work until morning. I chose such a profession for myself, there’s nothing I can do. You should have listened to Mom when she said, “Study to be a pharmacist.” And I wanted romance. But I could not even imagine that there would be so much extreme in my seemingly quite civilian profession.