Practicing from the Heart in the age of Technology - All articles and poems are by Reza Ghadimi, unless otherwise noted.
It was late in the evening on a miserable night with a very thick fog covering everything. I was stationed at the USAF Hospital in Lakenheath, England, and working the ER that night. We were dealing with the victims of a bad head on collision, on the notoriously narrow English country roads.
What made this night different enough that, fifty years later I still remember it, was the circumstances surrounding it. It was Spring equinox, which occurred on the weekend. I was looking forward to traveling to London for the equinox celebrations with family members. Imagine my disappointment when I found my name on the roster to cover the ER that weekend. So, I bribed a colleague to switch days with me, but was told that he could work the weekend but not Friday. Still, I agreed, planning to drive to London after work that night. But everything seemed to work against me, as the exceptionally thick fog rolled in, making it impossible to drive the long distance. The injured from the accident had arrived late, and by regulation I had to remain at my post until patients from my shift were taken care of, admitted or discharged. So, I gave up and surrendered to faith that I was going to miss the festivities.
As it happened, I later learned that the fog was even worse in London, and the British police had closed a big section of the road due to ice that night. The colleague, with whom I had made the arrangement to work for me, could not make it back, and I ended working the entire weekend after all.
The weekend turned out one of the busiest in the history of our hospital. The inclement weather kept many home, forcing those of us already on duty to remain there. Several more accidents of all kinds, brought an unusually large number of patients to our door. I, then, remembered a similar incident several years earlier, when during the great power blackout in New York City, many of our colleagues couldn’t get to work, as subways were out of order. Many accidents and injuries brought a large number to our ER, necessitating the setup of an emergency triage area. I mentioned that to the doctor in charge of our military ER and he agreed, asking me to set it up.
It worked well and we survived the onslaught better than any of us hoped for. I received a letter of commendation for that weekend - actually we all did. That letter was instrumental for my promotion, next time the promotion board met – and paid off nicely. Once again proving – to me at least – the value of experience.