TALES FROM THE DONUT SHOP BY JULES A. STAATS
Copyright 2014, Jules A. Staats; Library of Congress, USA. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. This work may be previewed only.
What could possibly happen on the last day a deputy sheriff works before retirement?
Sixteen years had gone by since it happened, but Jay never forgot the day he almost passed by a dying baby in a passing car. He remembered the old story, that it was a hot day and he was tired after working 13 hours. The passing motorist only gave a feeble wave for assistance. Feeling compelled to act; he had turned around and found a dying baby in the mother’s lap. A short code 3 drive to the local hospital with the three month old boy baby and mother saved the infant who experienced a full recovery. The past incident left him with a carved in stone mindset that all situations must be checked out and resolved thoroughly. He would never forget the emotions tied to his surprise when he saw the dying sick child in his mother's lap.
As the years passed by, Jay had changed. He was older and hopefully much wiser now. He was a little greyer, and somewhat tired due to some on-duty injuries in the past. He was due to finally retire tomorrow after twenty-two years on the Department. Today was his last day as a working Law Enforcement Officer. Tomorrow he would go downtown to Personnel, turn in his badge, give up his Law Enforcement Officer status and just become another civilian.
The Sheriff's Department had been kind to him, by giving him an inside job in the evidence room during his last year. The day shift job included inside duty, with weekends and holidays off. After all those years of night shifts, with working weekends, it was nice to be with his family again. Jay mused, softly talking to himself, "Too bad that two of my kids are teen agers. It would have been much better to be home when they were little kids growing up."
Yes, he knew all too well, that his involvement with police work had damaged his relationship with his wife and children. The job always seemed to come first. Then there was the overtime, the extra hours in a radio car. The years just went by. His children grew up too fast. He frowned outwardly, as the thought of his children growing up while he was out working overtime. He felt his frown twisting his face, knowing that others would not understand such an expression. He tried to relax his facial muscles and look pleasant, as he approached the Watch Deputy to receive a final assignment.
He was asked to go downtown to pick up some papers. That simple detail actually pleased him. He felt that it would be good to cruise the streets a little. Yes, the routine errand gave him a chance to reflect one last time. A chance to recall, about the many times he handled emergencies in this Greater Los Angeles area. He acknowledged to himself, that there was a lot of personal history carved into the stone walls of his mind. In this area, the memories were vivid, almost in color. He knew he would sorely miss this job but In fact, there was no option. He was being retired on a disability due to severe internal injuries while serving the public that he had given an oath to protect.
The ride to the Hall of Justice was completely without incident if you discount the freeway traffic. The ten 'o clock traffic to downtown Los Angeles was awful, as usual. The trip downtown was a stop and go nightmare. As a result, Jay's thoughts during the entire trip to Sheriff’s Headquarters were on defensive driving only. The ride was just another chore, with no time to think about the good old days. Finally the commute was over and he parked the black and white patrol car in the designated parking lot by the Hall of Justice Jail building.
Jay did not tell anybody he met at the old Hall of Justice Building and Sheriff’s Headquarters that this was his last day on the job. Most of the Deputies back at his Sheriff's Station knew, anyway. To him, it felt better to act as if this was another of many days to follow.
After visiting five offices and exchanging papers he was now ready to return to his station for the last time. The drive out of downtown was much better and he was able to think about a few times when he handled an incident at a passing location. He decided to divert his drive to cruse down East Valley Boulevard where so much had happened in his last twelve years as a patrol deputy. Due to heavy traffic he drove a little under the speed limit, but stores, schools and bars passed by his car window too quickly for his liking. Soon the drive was over and he had almost returned, now just blocks from the Industry Sheriff's Station. The morning sun had moved to the high noon position and was directly overhead, as he made his way Eastbound on the highway.
A gloomy thought crossed his mind, as he rolled with the traffic flow. This would probably be the last time he drove a police car. He glanced around again, briefly, noticing that the familiar horizontal shotgun rack in front of the front seat was empty. He was wearing a utility uniform, with his off-duty, two inch .38 revolver and a pair of handcuffs on his belt.
Jay had stopped for another red signal, and was just about to proceed forward with the green light. He heard a car honk once, behind him. His thoughts told him that it was probably an irritable, impatient person. He found it just a little hard to believe, that there actually are people who have the unbelievable nerve to honk at a black and white police car.
He shoved that nasty thought aside, and looked into his rear view mirror. At the same time he pushed down on the gas pedal. The patrol car started forward, moving into the intersection. Because of the reflection of the sun in the windshield of the possible impatient driver behind him, he could not make out who was driving. Perhaps they honked the horn by mistake. Then he saw a hand out the driver window, the driver appeared to be waving.
That unmistakable feeling of something terribly wrong struck him like a blunt object, and he remembered how he always seemed to be at the wrong place at the absolutely perfect time. But this was his last day on the job, and this was the end of his career as a police officer. His mind raced; is there another thing that is going to happen?
The deputy sheriff brought the patrol car to an abrupt stop, just short of the intersection and slightly past the painted cross walk. His thoughts quickly jumped back to sixteen years ago on a hot day. If he had not turned around and stopped, a baby would have died. His thought raced almost screaming at him; stop and check out the car behind him!
He shook his head; this was his last day at work. His thoughts pounded his senses; the day was cool, it was another place. There was heavy traffic now. Cars are backed up behind the patrol car. Nothing was the same, and am I just making a big mistake? Jay pressed the lever to turn on the red and blue rotating overhead emergency lights to advise that a possible police situation existed in this traffic lane.
Finally, and after many years of pitiful emergency lights patrol cars now had brighter blue and red light bars. The four rotating 60 watt bulbs along with a steady red to the front and flashing yellow light to the rear placed a heavy load on the electrical system but larger car alternators handled the load. Traffic waited when the lights came on. Jay got out of the patrol car and quickly walked back to the driver that honked at him and appeared to have also waived for help.
As he approached the driver of the vehicle he observed that a thirty year old Korean woman was driving the car. The woman was very upset; saying words quickly and was not speaking English. Jay had been diverted from Viet Nam service while in the U.S. Army. He had spent his overseas tour of thirteen months in Korea. What he knew of the Korean language was of no value here at this moment with this person. He could not understand anything she was saying, other than she was expressing urgency.
She pointed to the back seat. Jay opened the rear driver side door. There was an older woman in the back seat. In her lap, lying on a pillow was a two month old baby.
Jay was a seasoned police officer with over 22 years of service, most of it in patrol. Still, he almost gasped when he saw the white pillow. There was a six inch wide pool of blood below the child's mouth. There was serious bleeding here as there must have been close to a pint of blood, pooled in the blanket. Blood was slowly oozing from between the baby's lips.
His years of training and experience told him that without any doubt, the baby would die very soon from loss of blood. Bleeding like this, can be fatal in minutes. Using the self-control necessary to immediately rescue this baby, Jay coaxed the older woman to get out of the car with the infant. The blood spilled from the pillow on to the street, causing a gruesome sight on the grey concrete roadway. Jay calmly led and then gently pushed the woman, still carrying the baby, toward the patrol car. He opened the rear driver's side door, and helped her into the back seat. Then, he jumped behind the steering wheel, as he had done hundreds of times before in similar emergencies.
Yes he could have placed a radio call for the recently formed Paramedics. However they had to come from a station four minutes away. Loss of blood in those minutes could probably spell death to the infant. He only had to travel two city blocks to the nearest Hospital Emergency Room. It was his decision to do one last Grab and Run.
It was Déjà vu, as Jay pressed the car into emergency service. During his career of twenty-two years, he had sped to the hospital countless times, and with countless babies. And if they were alive when he started, they all survived. None had died. At least not yet.
He had a sick feeling, that he might lose this one. The baby had lost a lot terrible amount of blood for its tiny size.
As he pushed the powerful road machine into maximum output, the car engine roared, the drive wheels screamed. With the electronic siren screaming for vehicles to yield, and the light bar flashing blue and red, he sped the short two block distance to the hospital. The trip would only take less than a minute.
Jay had grabbed the radio microphone as the car gained speed. He prided himself as his usual emergency voice was as always--calm, in control, authoritative. "Ten Thirty-three." Jay made it a well-practiced point to not have any emotion show--ever in his voice over the radio. It was his way and his solid reputation. With the electronic siren blaring in the background he reported; "One forty x-ray is rolling code three with a bleeding baby and the victim's mother, advise the Xxxxxxx hospital I have a month old with heavy bleeding from the mouth.”
The radio room at Sheriff's Radio Center, SRC professionally acknowledged the transmission, notifying the local Sheriff’s station via a "hot line" telephone. The Sheriff Station radio monitor eavesdropped on all of the duplex radio transmissions. Jay's report of the emergency had been heard by the Industry desk crew, Watch Sergeant and Lieutenant.
Back at the Sheriff's Station, the station dispatcher and Watch Deputy looked at each other in perhaps mock disbelief, as they heard the soon to retire ancient deputy explain the emergency over the sound of the electronic siren. After all, this was old grey haired senior citizen deputy, who was going out to pasture tomorrow. He was handling an emergency just like the younger guys. Even though he was now considered an old dinosaur he was even being cool about it.
The desk crew did their job. And as always, they did their job well. To enhance the chance of survival of the baby, the Watch Deputy immediately telephoned the local hospital emergency room. As Jay continued to transmit information about the infant's condition, the observations were immediately relayed over the phone to the hospital emergency room staff member. It was found that usually, the advance warning contributed to the saving of another young life. However the short two-block code-3 run did not allow for much information to be passed on to the Emergency Room staff.
As Jay pulled the radio car by the emergency room entrance he left the siren on Wail to announce his arrival and turned it off only after he came to a complete stop. It worked, as the doctors and staff heard the noise and were just coming out the door. The baby was whisked to the emergency room, not on a gurney; but carried in a nurse’s caring arms per the emergency room doctor in charge.
A staff member later recognized the mother’s native language. A person who could speak Korean was summoned to assist in translations.
The baby received the necessary intensive emergency care needed to stabilize the infant. Although never told of the medical condition that caused the bleeding he was later assured that the baby subsequently survived and was expected to fully recover. The station called him at home several days later and after he retired, with the good news.
At the hospital Jay was told by the staff doctor who had assisted, that there was no question that the baby would have died in another five minutes or less, from critical loss of blood. The emergency room doctor had admitted that this was a very rare case, where waiting for paramedics would have been fatal.
The deputy had worked for most of his life as a cop who depended on the "grab and run" principal to save a life. That principal or theory was definitely on the way out. With competent paramedic assistance available, the best way to go was to let paramedics get there and stabilize the victim. After all, these emergency medical technicians have the training, drugs and equipment to do a far superior job of saving any life in jeopardy.
In this one situation, however, there just was no time to wait for the paramedics. He was told that he did it right and his supervisors agreed that his decision was correct with the end result that a tiny life survived.
Once again, just like many times before Jay “just happened” to be right next to a life or death situation. What are the chances?
Old Senior Deputy Jay would now retire from Law Enforcement, starting tomorrow. In a way you could say, that this was to be his last baby.