Sammy Helmond watched as the double doors leading to the ambulance bay swung open and a gurney was rushed inside. His throat felt thick with emotion as he watched the gurney be wheeled past him and into a critical care cubicle in the restricted section of the emergency room. A moment later, a second ambulance arrived and wheeled in another gurney.
A shooting in Cade Creek.
Things like that simply did not happen, not here. Oh sure, there was the occasional hunting accident and such but very rarely did someone get shot on purpose, and now they had two gunshot wound patients.
Sammy knew he was going to be needed to run interference when family and friends arrived. The doctors needed time to assess wounds and ensure that the injured patients stayed alive. Once they knew their patients weren’t going to die and they had a better idea of what they were dealing with, someone would come out to talk to the family.
The best way that Sammy could help was to keep the family calm and make sure that the doctors had all the information they needed to care for their patients. Knowing this, Sammy got two clipboards and attached the medical questionnaires that needed to be filled out by the family.
When the main door to the emergency room opened and several people rushed in, Sammy’s heart sank. The one thing he hated about working in the emergency room of a small town was that he knew just about everyone that came in. Sometimes it was really hard to separate his personal feeling from his professional obligations.
“Sammy,” Jonny breathed as he rushed to the check in desk. “They brought Russ in. He was shot.”
“The doctors are working on him now, Jonny,” Sammy replied. He held up the clipboard. Now probably wasn’t the best time to bring it up but he really needed to get this information to the doctors. “I need this filled out.”
If anything, Jonny’s face grew even grimmer. “I don’t…I don’t know any of this.”
“Just fill in what you can, Jonny. I’ll get the rest from Russ’s medical records.”
“I can help with some of it,” Mitch said as he hovered behind Jonny. “I’ve called Russ’s parents and they should be here soon. They can help fill in the rest.”
“I should know this, you know.” Jonny’s shaky hand took the clipboard and he made his way over to one of the chairs. “We’re married. I should know this.”
Sammy blinked several times to get rid of the tears threatening to spring to his eyes at the lost look on Jonny’s face. He knew the man well as they kind of worked in the same profession. Jonny often dropped by for a chat after dropping a patient off. It was heartbreaking to see his fancy wedding outfit covered in blood.
Sammy’s gaze snapped to Benjamin Brody and his husband Neason. Everything inside of him, right down to his soul, stilled. “Hank?”
Please. Don’t let it be my Hank.
“Hank Vaught,” Brody said. “He was also shot.”
“He pushed Russ out of the way,” Neason added, his eyelashes fluttering as he blinked away his tears. “Hand probably saved Russ’s life.”
Sammy swallowed the lump in his throat before replying. “I’m afraid I can’t really give out that information. I’ll need permission from whoever his emergency contact is before I can tell you anything.”
Neasons’s face dropped but Brody nodded as if he understood. “I believe the fire chief is Hank’s emergency contact.”
“I’ll call him now,” Sammy said even as he reached for the phone, dialing Fire Chief Jack Helmond’s cell phone. It seemed to take forever for Jack to answer. Sammy knew the man was usually busy whether he was at work or at home with his partner Chester, but if he didn’t answer the phone soon, Sammy was going to scream.
“Hey, Sammy, what’s up?” the man asked when he finally answered.
“There’s been a shooting,” Sammy said quickly. “Hank Vaught and Russ Bozeman were both shot. I believe you are listed as Hank’s emergency contact. I need you to come down to the hospital.”
“Wasn’t Russ getting married today?”
“Yes.” Sammy glanced at the people gathered around Jonny, all dressed in the Sunday best. “I don’t know exactly what happened but I think the shooting took place at the wedding. Someone said Hank got shot when he pushed Russ out of the way.”
“Damn! Okay, I’m on my way.”
“Hurry, Jack. There’s no one here to make medical decisions for Hank.”
“Getting in my truck now. I’ll hit the lights.”
“Just hurry, Jack.” Sammy hung up and took a moment to center himself. His desperation to go check on Hank was overwhelming. He needed to keep it together. He took a few more cleansing breathes and then walked over to one of the other nurses. “I need to run in back. Can you watch the counter?”
Sally glanced up, smiling. “Sure.”
“The fire chief is on his way here,” Sammy said. “Just let him come back when he arrives.”
Sammy walked around the check in counter and over to the small group gathered, waiting for news. “Jonny.” The anguish on the man’s pale face when he looked up just about ripped Sammy’s heart out. “I’m going to run in back and see if the doctor can tell me anything. I’ll be right back.”
He nodded and turned, keeping his steps even and at a regular controlled pace as he walked to the double doors leading back into the medical bay. He tapped the code to open the door and then waited. The activity in the back area was busy, as it should be if there were two gunshot victims in the emergency room.
Sammy stepped through the doors and went to the nurse’s desk set in the middle of the twelve room medical bay. It became blaringly apparent that one patient was in room twelve and the other in room ten. That was where all of the activity was located.
He moved closer, listening and watching. He cataloged all of the medical procedures happening in front of him but his brain refused to process exactly what they were. All he could see was the blood saturating Hank’s shirt as it was being cut off of him. The heart monitor said Hank was alive but how was beyond Sammy. He could see the wound that the doctor was trying to treat, the jagged edges of skin where a bullet had ripped through the man’s flesh.
Hank shouldn’t be alive.