The firefighters raced in. Smoke engulfing anything that breathed. Looking around they saw no life. Checking the bathroom, they looked behind the worn shower curtain; nothing.
Climbing the stairs, stopping in mid-air, as they watched three stairs collapse in front of them, they took giant, baby steps, and landed on solid ground. Splitting in different directions, they sought each room.
There he was, the little boy, hiding under his bed. Flames dancing all around him as if inviting him to a special party, where he was to be the main event. The firefighter pushed fervently the bed, crashing it into the wall, causing the little one to cry.
He bent down quick and scooped the tot in both arms. Turning around he raced out of the door, yelling, ” I found him, I found him. All head outside now!” The piercing sounds of blazes licking at their heels, caused them to run faster. Hearing the splitting of wood from above, they raced through the front door.
Crowds screaming and clapping as the firefighter transferred the boy into the arms of the EMT’s. The mother and father came and were standing at the rear of the ambulance, throwing questions faster than playing darts.
“Is he okay? Is my baby alright? I should have insisted he bring his toys downstairs to play with. I gave in because I didn’t want to take apart his train track. I will never forgive myself for being so lazy.”
“It’s going to be alright. He seems to have suffered some smoke inhalation, but only minor burns. Don’t put yourself down mam. You were only doing what you thought was right.” The mother buried her head in her hands crying. All she could think of was what she had done wrong.
The EMS team worked on the tot, cleaning him up. Mom could hear one of them speaking over a speaker in his hand. “ETA, five minutes.” The police guided the parents to their patrol car and opening the back door, helped each of them in.
Silence guided them to the nearest hospital, Angel’s Mercy South Side. The EMS was ahead of them, but close enough the parents zoomed in on the flashing bubble, and they waited anxiously for the tot to be transferred inside the doors. The police pulled up next and not waiting for their doors to be opened, they raced inside the electronic, double doors.
They started running to catch up with their son, but the receptionist stopped them, stating they needed to fill out paperwork and show their insurance forms. The mother turned to her and started laughing out loud. The husband tried to quiet her, but the wife refused.
“My child has been burnt. Do you think you could think of something besides money for a change? You’ll get your damn money, but my son comes first. Excuse us lady, we are going to see our son.”
The guards were motioned from behind the desk and pulling their pants up tighter and touching their side gun, they stiffly walked up to the parents. ” I can understand how you feel, but the staff is looking after the child at this moment. They will call you back as soon as everything is under control. You must fill out the paper work as the receptionist has so kindly asked. We need this completed before we can proceed.”
He once again touched his gun and tipping his hat forward, he gestured the two to turn around and do as was requested. The mother was cussing under her breath. The father patting her shoulder, whispering, “It’s going to be alright. Let’s just do what they asked so we can go see Ryan.”
What seemed like hours, they tediously filled out each line and signed on the dated lines. Yes, they understood the HIPAA law. Yes, they had insurance and let the lady make copies of that and their driver’s licences. Yes, they had signed permission papers, giving the hospital rights to treat their son. They had placed their preferences of religion.
The receptionist, checking every detail, thanked them and told them to take a seat in the lobby and as soon as they were able to see their son, their names would be announced.”Why don’t you get a cup of coffee for the two of you,” she smiled saying. The husband rocked his wife’s head on his shoulder and neither stood up.
It was an hour passing and a gentleman in a white coat, with a navy blue shirt and a bright red tie came out of the double doors. He walked to the receptionist and she pointed in their direction. The doctor neared them and asked them to verify their name.
“Please come with me.” He placed his arm around her shoulder guiding them through the double doors, into a green, cold hallway. He led them to the fourth door where he opened it for them to enter first. “Coffee?” Both shook their heads stating no.
The doctor sat behind his mahogany desk in his luxurious, leather chair. Clearing his throat and hesitating momentarily he began.” Do you have family near? Is their someone I can call to be here with you?”
“Why, why are you asking us these questions? Where is our son? What about our son? Is he alright?” The doctor repeated himself with his prior questions. Both parents stood up. “What’s going on? We want answers now.”
“I am sorry I have to tell you this Mr. and Mrs. Miller. The staff did all they could. Their was just too much smoke for that little body. We couldn’t save him. Now is there someone I can call for you?”
“You bastard, you son-of-a bitch” You wouldn’t let us see our baby first. You demanded and the police almost held us captive wanting us to sign papers. We could have been holding our baby instead. He needed to know he wasn’t alone. I will sue this hospital, you hear me? I will sue you!”
The doctor stood up and walked around the desk. Placing his arm once again around her shoulder, he said in a softer voice.” I am sorry mam. I wish things could be different, but we have to follow the hospital’s regulations. We could be held liable if we didn’t. I understand how you feel. Now, is there someone I can call for you?”
(This story, I wrote, is fiction. Although I want it to give you something to think about. With all of the new laws and regulations, when does money become more important than anything else?)