A Lot to be Thankful For
A subtle jerk, a gentle twist, nothing you could really put your finger on, yet enough of a change to cause displacement. The paramedic’s foot shifted, and he glanced quickly at his safety gear. It was still hooked onto the handrail of the metal catwalk.
“Hold on, we’re almost there.”
Words of reassurance meant for the patient could just as easily have been spoken for his partner. High-risk rescues were their specialty, but prudence and caution were indispensable. That and a partner you trusted.
The metal basket skidded across the last piece of grating, successfully placing the victim on the floor of the main structure. It also meant his partner was safe too, safety line now unhooked from the catwalk as he stepped up onto the platform and knelt next to their patient.
The wind had picked up, the shrill sound whistling past his ears, giving an eerie feel to an already precarious rescue.
Johnny grinned at Roy’s urgent call. “Coming. Just getting the drug box.”
One hand on the rail, the other reaching for the drug box, there wasn’t time to think when the catwalk suddenly pitched drastically to one side then the other before breaking from the building and plunging downward. There was nothing but the scream of air rushing past him as he plummeted towards the ground, and he wondered how and when his fall would come to a stop.
The drug box was ripped from his grasp as Johnny was flipped back and forth like a rag doll against the metal, and it was only in a flash of clarity and blessed luck that he was able to unhook his belt from the handrail. At least he wouldn’t be attached to the catwalk when he landed, though either way, it was a sure bet he’d be either underneath or stretched out on top. Johnny didn’t know if the cry of terror passed his lips or simply slammed around inside his head.
He had one last thought for Roy, a quick picture of his best friend’s face frozen in abject terror, before everything went black.
Roy looked up when Hank settled in a chair beside him.
doing?” asked the Captain.
“Brackett says that he turned the corner last night. He’s gonna be okay, Cap.”
“Good. That’s good.” Stanley dropped his head for a moment, and the two shared a few minutes of silence before Cap spoke again. “It’s been a long couple of days. Why don’t you go home and get some sleep. I’ll stick around here and keep an eye on things.”
Roy nodded reluctantly, knowing from previous arguments that he wasn’t going to win this one. The crew had all rallied around Johnny over the past 48 hours, lending support and comfort, keeping watch with Roy. He knew he and his partner had a lot of people to thank, but there would be time enough for that later.
With a tired sigh, Roy pushed out of his chair and went to stand beside his sleeping partner. It was as he turned to leave that Cap stopped him with a few quiet words.
“There’s no explanation for it. The fact that he was able to get his belt off the handrail, that he fell clear of the catwalk and landed in a layer of mud instead of the hard concrete.” Cap paused to steady his voice. “I saw the catwalk after you left in the ambulance. It was nothing more than a hunk of twisted metal. We were real lucky this time.”
Roy nodded mutely, physically drained and emotionally raw. He looked once more at his partner then back to his captain.
“You’re right, Cap. We have a lot to be thankful for.”
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