Ryan’s eyes went wide as he entered Columbia Presbyterian. One step into the ER and he went from a sidewalk setting of four to five on the NYC entropy scale, to utter chaos. Between his job as a cop and visits to see his wife at work, Ryan had seen his share of busy hospitals. Over the years he’d performed lifesaving CPR, witnessed a fatal drive-by, delivered a crack-baby in the back of his cruiser, and had even been a first responder on 911 during his early days as an NYPD uniformed officer, so he had a well-tested eye for measuring mayhem.
Drawing on that experienced yardstick now, he knew that the pandemonium he’d just stepped into was not your garden variety triage scenario, even for NYC. No-sir-ee. Something major—a crane collapse, a plane crash in the Hudson River, or good old-fashioned multivehicle pile up—had just gone down somewhere in the upper west side vicinity.
Before he even had time to get his bearings the double doors hissed open to his left. An agitated EMT staff burst in wheeling a gurney hauling a moaning mangled mass encased in blood soaked gauze. A pale leg jutted off the side of the cart at such an obtuse angle that an EMT had to support the limb to prevent the rupture of whatever little tissue might still be feeding oxygen to the bled appendage.
Ryan winced, felt an instant spike of pure visceral sympathy, but the emotion was quickly usurped by programming. He immediately flipped his badge, joined the hive mind of the hospital staff, and took up his niche by clearing the path of gawking bystanders and uttering reassuring phrases to weary eyed victims yet to be treated.