Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Army Stories: The Miracle Of The Waiting Room
My last duty station before retiring from the Army was at the beautiful National Training Center, Fort Irwin, CA. How could you not enjoy the dust, blistering heat and extreme cold of a place located at the southern end of Death Valley?
NTC is the world’s most modern, high-tech, force-on-force, training facility in the world. Each year dozens of battalions pit their skills against the Red Army, and every year the realistic training produces causalities of every size, shape and description.
As the Non-Commissioned Officer In Charge of the Emergency Department at the post hospital, I saw my fair share. It was here that I met Sgt Bilko. We shared many a fun-filled day treating the victims of tragic accidents as well as those of blatant stupidly.
One of the best examples of wanton dumbass, was the call we got one night from a tanker crew. They were desperately asking for advice on how to treat a patient who was being non-compliant with their attempt at CPR. Apparently those who are breathing and have a heartbeat become combative when that procedure is forced upon them. Who knew?
Along with the troops training “out in the box”, we served as the medical facility for those soldiers stationed at NTC as well as their dependents. It’s to these patients that the Miracle of the Waiting Room manifested itself.
Triage is a funny thing in that while it sorts those with the greatest need from those who are looking for an excuse not to go to work, it also seems to serve as a catalyst for divine intervention. This combined with the thermostat being set a little too high where the patients hangout prior to treatment, may have contributed to sparking a reaction that even faith healers would find amazing.
As a cold winter’s night around Christmas would wear-on and the stuffiness of that waiting room increased, people who came in complaining of migraine headaches, sever backaches, gastric problems and all but useless limbs, would miraculously stand up and declare themselves healed. My amazed staff at the front desk would ask the patient if they were sure they were all right and sign them out.
After all, who were we to stand in the way of a Christmas Miracle?
Merry Christmas from the cast and crew of Sideshow Mirrors
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