Feature

Night Shift

August 1997

It's 7:10 P.M. Atending physician Jedd Roe takes a call in the emergency department at Denver Health Medical Center: a male in his 40s will soon arive by ambulance. He was found lying on the pavement near 20th and Broadway, drunk, and barely breathing. His alcohol count is over 4.0. He lost control of his bowels and is vomiting blood. His gag reflex is not working, and if h e inhales his vomit could flood his lungs and cause life-threatening pneumonia and drowning.

Five minutes later, the doors crash open. A team of paramedics rushes the annymous man through the emergency room doors on a gunery, holding steady an intravenous bottle that hangs above the patients left arm. Like clockwork, a phalanx of doctors and nurses materializes from the mergency department clustering around him. The paramedics slow to a half trot. Both teams announce their arrival with a litany of medical exchanges delivered as rapid-fire questions and answers.