ER
The Letter

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The Letter

The paramedic leaps out of the ambulance. "Auto versus cement truck," she shouts. Ah, a classic battle. During the crash, a ten-year-old girl in the back seat of the car flew into the front and hit the airbag, apparently; her name is Melissa, and as she's unloaded, Susan greets her kindly and establishes that the girl wasn't knocked unconscious, and that her chest hurts. Her father, a thirty-six-year-old named Dan, got banged up in the driver's seat, and tells Carter that his right leg and throat are in pain. "Has his voice changed?" Carter urgently asks the medic. "Maybe a little," the medic says. I should hope so. It's a bit late for puberty. Dan rasps, "Is my daughter here?"

Trauma Green. Susan tells Melissa to follow the flashlight with her eyes; Gallant shouts out some stats, and Haleh shares that Melissa's blood pressure is cycling. Susan tries to reassure Melissa through use of the word "sweetie," but it doesn't really work, and also that's the name of my friend's bird sister. Seriously. His mom called him one day and said, "You have a sister!" and she was referring to their recent acquisition of a parrot named Sassy, who became Sweetie after they taught her to meow like a cat. I don't know. They live in a small town. "Where's my dad?" Melissa interrupts me, weeping. Susan calmly says that he's being helped by another doctor, and instructs her patient to hold still while they remove the neck brace the paramedics put on her. "Oh, good girl," coos Susan once it's off. Ew. She's a bit smarmy today. Abby bursts in to fetch the fiber-optic scope, and the double doors don't swing shut behind her. Melissa turns her head and sees her father knocked out on a gurney and looking very weak indeed. "Dad!" she whines. Abby exits and again the doors don't close. "Dad!" screams Melissa. Susan quietly urges Abby to close the doors, and she does, taking us into...

...Trauma Yellow, where Carter is freaking out because Dan isn't doing well and they need to clear an airway. Abby examines him and curses, "Oh, God, large hematoma right in front of the trachea." Carter can't believe his bad luck -- if he cuts through it, blood will obstruct his view of and access to any airway. Abby starts to stress. "What do you want to do?" she asks, expectantly. Carter thinks. "Give me the scope," he finally says. Right then, Dr. Robert "Rocket" Romano enters to save the day. Somebody should get this man a cape. Abby gives him the bullet, and Romano is stunned that Carter hasn't "criked" him yet -- this is, I think, some procedure involving piercing the throat in a certain place to form an emergency airway, but I'm not sure why it's a "crike" and not a "tracheotomy," but I also sort of don't care and that's why I'm not a doctor. That, and the fact that I hate blood and innards. Carter insists that he can't crike Dan yet because of that hematoma. This is Carter being hesitant and not making snappy decisions. Romano takes control and prepares to cut Dan's throat. Carter, working the fiber-optic scope down Dan's throat, screams for Romano to wait. "His heart rate's 60. Most chief residents know that means he'll arrest," Romano says, ignoring Carter's plea and cutting. Blood squirts onto Carter's lab goggles. Romano steps up with some snappy procedure he knows, jabs a giant tube into Dan's throat, and voilà, you have a "field airway," which makes me wonder if he might've trained once as a paramedic. You can hear air rushing out the tube. "A little less whining, a little more action next time, Dr. Carter," Romano lectures blithely, leaving. Carter looks frustrated and cute. But don't worry -- I sense he'll learn something very important about himself before this hour is over.

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