La Fiesta is a Mexican restaurant frequented by many of the West End locals. Although not of the highest quality, the food was plentiful. The inside décor was plastic and garish, but didn’t deter the patrons who were regulars. It stayed open late. I know this seems odd, but there was never a lack of clientele and I’m sure they regarded the food secondary to the companionship.‑ It wasn’t a place you would go and take the kids, but not a place to fear, either, even though it was in a seedier part of town.
“Med 33″‑Tick cut in on our conversation. I picked up the mike and responded, “Med 33.”‑ Tick’s even voice was a constant of our lives, and I used to wonder if it was like the stories of Hanoi Jane…someone who has an even, calm, almost sultry voice, delivering the news as if it were milk and honey. I don’t remember how long I worked at EMS before I even met Mick. He was the phantom voice, unfailing, never shaken, who directed our lives in the worst of circumstances. I remember listening to the tapes of Tick communicating with multiple units and hospitals during the Standard Gravure shootings.‑It made headlines all across the United States. Some nut went off his rocker and shot a bunch of employees. It was an act followed many times over, throughout the country, in the years thereafter. It seems copycat murders, or crimes of a certain nature begin, and then continue like a rolling wave connecting with demented minds waiting for evil guidance. Mick coordinated dozens of units that day, through all the chaos and urgency of mass injuries and deaths.
‑”Med 33, make 36th and Hamilton on a 10-83, possible 10-80.”‑I keyed the mike and responded, 10-4 Radio.”‑ “Make your run code 3, run number 2745,” Tick answered.‑ Then he added, “advise if second unit needed.”‑ I again said 10-4 and we hit the lights and sirens to make the La Fiesta. I was working with Janner that night and we knew that Mick was watching our backs via the radio. We had a sick person, possibly dead, and assistance might be needed.‑ He had another unit already moving for possible backup.‑Mick was like that.‑He had a 6th sense about things.
‑We pulled up at the La Fiesta and left our unit running. I grabbed my jump kit and we proceeded into the restaurant, which had a scattering of seedy patrons gathered around a booth. We parted the small crowd and saw a man sitting upright except for his head.‑ His face was in his plate of enchiladas, refried beans, and vomitus.‑‑I approached and placed my fingers at his carotid. No pulse. Janner and I lugged his bulk to the floor and began CPR as I radioed Mick for backup. The guy weighed 300 pounds if he weighed an ounce. Janner was doing compressions whilst I intubated him. It was difficult because he had such a fat neck it was extremely hard to see his vocal cords.‑I was laying flat on my stomach and was holding my pen light in my teeth as I passed the endotrachial tube into place. Our second responding unit had arrived, and the four of us got him rolled onto a backboard, and then lifted the backboard to the stretcher. We were perfectly synchronized as we continued CPR and transported him out to the ambulance.‑Dealing with dead people is so routine that even though we are doing rescue work, we appear calm. This demeanor probably throws people off as to the seriousness of the situation. Just as we lowered the stretcher, readying it to lift into the back of the ambulance, we became aware of a small, rail- thin black man, cap on his head, and thermos in his hand who had appeared out of nowhere. He leaned over the stretcher, and looked directly into the man’s intubated face.‑He said, “Uh….LaMonte gonna be able to take me to work today?”‑I didn’t have the heart to tell him that LaMonte was as dead as a doornail.‑‑I looked into his questioning eyes and I still remember the sweetness of his face and manner. I told him that today he would need to take the bus.
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