The phone rings.
Dispatch tells us where to go, and the patient's complaint.
Sometimes, the flight is to my home town,
population.......less than 10,000.
I've been fortunate that I've never had to transport a close friend or family member, but I HAVE carried close acquaintances.
In flight, headed to my home hospital, I wonder what we'll encounter when we get there.
Some years ago, we were dispatched to my home hospital
to pick up a 7 year old boy that had "fallen down a flight of stairs".
I shut the aircraft down and proceeded to the E.R. to check out the situation.
Outside the E.R. door were two clutches of people,
each containing 5-or-so folks.
One of the groups was Black,
the other White.
The tension was thick enough to slow your walking speed.
These folks weren't looking at one another.
Here's the story:
The White Mother of our patient was previously married to a Black man.
Our patient is the result of that marriage.
Now married to a White man, Grandparents and other members of the respective families constitute the two groups in the hallway outside the E.R..
A White man approaches me, obviously under a great deal of stress,
puts his index finger within a few inches of my nose
and says emphatically,
"That's my stepson you're flying. He's a REALLY special kid!
You take damn good care of him!"
My crew wheels the kid out........
he's that beautiful "coffee and cream" color of many mixed race kids,
with an innocent, almost pretty, face.
He's unconscious, bruised, with a terrible closed-head injury.
I followed up:
He lived a week.
StepDad was arrested an hour after accosting me.
Charged with murder after our patient's death,
sentenced to 40 years in the Pen.
The Alarm Bells were justified.........
My gut said "GUILTY" when I suppressed the urge
to break off his finger and hand it to him!