Emergency Room Duty
It was a hot summer Saturday night in Pensacola and I had slept very little the night before, what with the frequent arrival of ambulances at the Emergency Room bearing people ailing in one way or another, mostly from injuries.
That was back at the time when ambulance services were provided by funeral directors, and the several funeral homes in town vied with one another for business, not only as a source of revenue, but to hopefully bond with families for that inevitable business down the road.
One black ambulance driver had made a banner number of trips the night before.
Some of the injuries -- such as a foot caught in a lawn mower -- had taken considerable time for repair, so that Friday night, after a day of duty at the Naval School of Aviation Medicine, had found me working nigh twenty-four hours straight through.
I was "moonlighting" for the weekend at the local civilian hospital, and looking forward to an easier time Saturday night when I came back on duty.
However, to my dismay there were several cases waiting for my attention when I arrived in the late afternoon.
I worked throughout the supper hour and began to realize that most of the patients this session had injuries from mayhem of one sort or another.
After several hours I had caught up and was taking a breather on the outside covered platform at the stretcher entrance when another ambulance arrived.
The driver was my acquaintance who had made so many trips on the night before.
Greeting him I said: "Now listen, George, you kept me awake all last night. I hope you'll take this ambulance back to town and keep it there tonight".
He gave me a big grin and answered: "But, Doctor, these folks got paid today and they're gonna have a big time tonight with money in their pockets. Last night was accident night -- Tonight is purpose night!"
April 5, 1996
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