This is the last of a five-part series. Find previous parts at the links below. Happy holidays to all who serve from EMS World.
The bell tipped.
“Rescue 1, respond to 342 Broad St. for an intoxicated male.”
Michaelmorser Scrooge was instantly awake and ready to roll. An intoxicated male on Broad Street! Fantastic!
His office was just as he remembered before the spirits had visited, but make no mistake, they had visited, and the lessons they offered echoed in his head and filled his empty soul with hope.
He opened the office door and strode toward the dayroom. “I’m as light as a feather!” he giggled as he walked. “I’m as giddy as the drunken man on Broad Street!”
The firefighters sat in the dayroom, putting last night’s Monopoly game away, and the upside-down helmet full of dollars with it.
“Ryan! What day is this?” Scrooge asked his good friend.
“Today? Why, it’s Christmas day,” said Ryan hesitantly.
“An intelligent boy, a remarkable boy!” said Scrooge. “Here’s $20 for the poor.” He dropped a bill in the helmet. “And there will be $20 more every year until I’m gone!”
“Are you serious?” said Ryan, nearly dropping the loot.
“Quite. I’ve got a drunken man who needs our assistance and have to go, but in the meantime, do you know the prize bird, the one at the poulterer’s the next street over but one?”
“The one twice as big as me?” asked Ryan, incredulous.
Scrooge looked at Ryan’s girth, scrunched his face into its familiar prunish countenance and replied, “Now that would truly be a Christmas miracle! But yes, that’s the bird. Go there when you are relieved and buy it. Bring it here before I get back, and I’ll give you half a crown!”
“What are you going to do with it?”
“Cook it, my fine fellow, and all that goes with it, and when we come back to work tonight a feast like I haven’t prepared in a decade will be shared by us all!”
Rescue 1 waited on the apparatus floor, and Brian with it. Scrooge sat in the officer’s seat and growled at Brian, but chuckled to himself.
“Took you long enough to get down here!”
“But I was waiting for you!” Brian replied.
“And you shall never have to wait again, my good man! From this day forward I will be on the truck and ready to roll every time the bell tips! We have work to do—let’s roll!”
The drunken man was indeed on Broad Street, quite inebriated. He slept on a cold sidewalk in all he clothes he possessed.
“Ignorance and want, all in one untidy bundle,” said Scrooge as he and Brian scraped their patient off the sidewalk and brought him to the ER.
Before they could return to the station, Scrooge took his partner’s sleeve. “A small detour, Brian,” he said. “To the children’s nursing home, and step on it!”
Old Michaelmorser Scrooge spent the next hour visiting the workers and children at the heartbreaking place, making a special visit to Room 324, where an angelic boy slept peacefully, a lump on his chest covered by a blanket. A nurse stayed with the boy, and looked up from her chart as Michaelmorser entered the room.
“How is he?” Scrooge asked.
“Good as gold,” the nurse replied.
“If the boy were to go into cardiac arrest, is there anything I should know were I to be dispatched here in the dead of night?”
“Of course. Treat him delicately, and caress his heart, and do compressions carefully, but no differently than you would on an otherwise-healthy boy.”
“I’ll do that,” said Scrooge, “and learn all I can about him and what ails him. And I’ll visit and see that he gets proper care should the need arise. And I also promise to keep Christmas in my heart all the year long, and remember the lessons the spirits taught me!”
Scrooge was as good as his word, and from then on treated the drunks with kindness and began learning anew the protocols and procedures necessary to keep fresh in the field but that he’d let go stale. Ultimately people would come to say that if anybody in the village knew how best to keep Christmas, it was Michaelmorser Scrooge.
He drove home, turning off the talk radio and tuning in to Christmas carols. He parked his car and stepped out, feeling like a man reborn, and looked to the sky and smiled. He opened the door, and it was warm, and the house reeked of Christmas, and the people that mattered to him most welcomed him home.
Michael Morse, EMT-C, is currently captain of Rescue 5 in Providence, RI, and has served on the city's busiest engine, ladder and rescue squads as a firefighter, rescue technician and lieutenant during his 21-year career. He is the author of the books Rescuing Providence and Responding.