Paramedics argue about making entry or waiting for the police
In this EMS novel excerpt one medic is willing to enter a dangerous scene because she doesn't want to see her husband, a cop, but her partner wants the opportunity for confrontation
Caitlyn Armistead, a teacher and AEMT, introduces us to paramedic partners, Nathan, who lost his leg in Afghanistan, and Megan, who hides a secret from her partner, in this excerpt from "Crossing the Line."
By Caitlyn Armistead
Nathan parked the ambulance in front of a ranch house. The large yard was open and flat, dotted with fruit trees, and ringed with a white picket fence. He slammed the cab door and looked around. There were no cars, no people. The yard was well kept. He heard only far-distant traffic sounds.
Megan walked around the truck and stood on the curb, staring at the house. She nervously cracked her knuckles. Nathan walked to her side.
"It’s quiet," she said.
They walked up the steps.
"I don’t see anyone," Nathan said and pounded on the door. "Paramedics!"
He pounded again. "Para—"
The door creaked open by itself. They exchanged glances.
Megan pushed the door further. "Paramedics!" she called, stepping inside.
Nathan caught her arm. "What are you doing?"
"Looking for the patient."
"You’re insane. There’s no way I’m going in there unarmed. Call PD to clear the house."
She frowned. "I don’t want to call PD."
Megan canted her head as if he were stupid to ask.
Nathan glowered. "Because Todd’s working today. Look, I’m not risking our lives because you’re afraid to follow procedures. If we find something before Todd gets here, we can cancel him, but right now, I need a guy with a gun, and I’m rolling PD."
"Maybe there’s someone out back," she said, jogging down the steps to the side yard.
Nathan finished talking to dispatch and followed her through the gate, which was weighted to close behind them. They walked around the house and peered into the windows. He saw no signs of life. At the corner of the house, he surveyed the empty yard. The trees whispered softly in the warm breeze.
The growl was low and deep.
Two German Shepherds launched around the house, snapping and barking.
Nathan sprinted across the yard. He made it to the fence and with one hand on top, hurdled over and fell to the other side. He jumped up to see Megan take a running leap, grab the lowest limb of an apple tree, and swing herself up. She climbed into the higher branches as the dogs barked and lunged, clawing at the trunk.
His heart hammered. "Megan! Are you okay?"
"I’m fine!" she called. "I think I’ll, um, hang out here for a while."
"Hang on tight. I can hear sirens. They’ve sent Fire, too."
"Animal Control would be nice. I haven’t seen them in a while. We could catch up."
"I’ll see what I can do."
The fire truck rolled on scene, and the firefighters climbed out. Nathan shook hands with Martin.
"What’s going on?" Martin asked, eyeing the enraged dogs.
"Megan’s in that tree."
Martin’s mustache twitched mischievously. The firefighters leaned on the fence.
"Doll, you’ve fulfilled my life’s purpose!" Martin called.
"Oh?" she answered. "How’s that?"
"I’ve always wanted to rescue a cat from a tree."
"Start rescuing!" she yelled. "I want to get down."
Nathan called to the dogs. The firefighters whistled and patted their legs trying to distract them from Megan. The dogs still growled. One abandoned the tree to bark at the firefighters.
A police cruiser arrived on scene, and Nathan narrowed his eyes as Todd emerged from his car. Raw hatred boiled within him, and he wriggled his fingers to keep from clenching his fists.
"You need me to clear the house?" Todd asked.
Todd leaned back on his heels. "Yep, you medics always have to wait for the real men to do the dirty work first."
"Real men don’t —" Nathan cut himself short. If he revealed his knowledge of Megan’s secret, Todd might take it out on her.
Todd stepped closer. "Don’t what?"
"Nothing. Clear the house."
"That’s what I thought." Todd walked to the porch and turned back. "Where’s Meg?"
Nathan considered lying. "She’s in that tree."
"What on earth?" Todd stepped toward the fence.
"Hey!" Nathan pointed at the house. "What about my patient? He could be dying in there."
Todd swung back. "Megan is my wife. Don’t ever set your one foot between us." He walked to the yard and laughed. The firefighters sullenly relinquished the fence.
Todd drew his pistol. "I’ll take care of this!"
"You can’t do that," Nathan warned. "Those dogs are protecting their own property. They’re properly confined."
"Don’t tell me what to do." Todd raised his arms and assumed a shooting stance.
"Think of the paperwork," Nathan said. "And the SPCA will jump all over you. It’ll be a media circus."
Todd lowered his arms. "And you’re the freak show." He holstered his weapon.
The radio called, "Med 3."
"Go ahead," Nathan said.
"Call is canceled. Caller advises he is no longer at the property."
"10-4. Is animal control en route?"
Todd’s radio crackled. "32, be en route to 64 Lorilee Drive, 64 Lorilee Drive. Possible break in."
Todd tipped his head to his mic. "10-4."
Nathan glared at him.
"I’m warning you," Todd said, his jaw jutting forward. "Cross me, and I’ll take you down."
Nathan laughed. "The Taliban couldn’t kill me. I doubt some two-bit cop could do the job."
Todd puffed his chest. "You leave my wife alone."
Nathan stepped closer. "Treat her right, and it won’t matter what I do."
"What do you mean by that?" Todd said, resting his hand on his gun.
Nathan leveled his gaze. "Just what I said."
"I’m warning you."
"I’m not concerned."
Todd wrinkled his nose and walked to his car.
The animal control truck cruised up the street. The officer rolled down his window and pushed his thick glasses up the bridge of his nose. "What’s the problem?"
"My partner got treed," Nathan said, leaning on the truck door.
"The heck you say."
Nathan grinned. "See for yourself." He pointed back over to the apple tree. Both dogs lay beside the trunk.
The officer grinned. "You just need to get him down?"
"All right. Let’s try easy things first. I have a dog whistle. I’ll go to the other side of the house and blow the whistle and see if the dogs will come to me."
"Sounds good. I’ll tell her."
The officer crossed the yard, and Nathan briefed Megan on what he was going to do. He never heard the whistle, but both dogs suddenly bounded from the tree and raced around the house. Megan dropped to the ground and dashed to the fence, where Nathan held the gate open.
Martin pulled on his suspenders. "Doll, you sure do make my life interesting."
The animal control officer held up the dog whistle. "Should I leave this with you in case you need it again?"
They laughed, and Megan thanked him before he drove away.
"You look gorgeous, Doll," Martin said.
"Oh!" she said as if Martin hadn’t spoken. "Did you find Jellybean a sitter for Friday?"
"Jellybean?" Nathan asked.
Martin chuckled. "Jellybean is my daughter. And, yes, I did."
"Okay," she said. "If it falls through, call me."
Martin wiggled his moustache. "So you’re asking me to call you."
"To babysit," she said, rolling her eyes. "Just to babysit."
He sighed. "There’re always stipulations."
"You ready, Martin?" a firefighter called.
"Yeah, I’m coming!" he said. "Have a safe shift, Doll. Or you can come with me, and we’ll blow this town."
Megan smiled. "Still married, Martin. I’m still married."
About the author
Caitlyn is a teacher, AEMT, and lifeguard. She has worked for large hospitals, several EMS services, and as a research librarian for a state Bureau of Emergency Medical Services. CaitlynArmistead.com