There wasn't anyone there who didn't look like they weren't ready to heave. Julie felt sorry for the vollies, the members of the local volunteer ambulance corps. At least she and Matt were being paid to be there. Then again, no amount of money was worth witnessing the carnage that was lying there before them.
Matt had done the unwelcome task and already pronounced one of the girls dead. It was obvious death, obvious to anyone. Trying her best not to step into the pool of blood or disturb anything else vital to the crime scene investigation that would follow, she finished preparing the one girl who was still alive for transport.
A young man in his late twenties or early thirties, Julie wasn't sure without reading the patient care report, had been burnt when his shirt had caught fire. He was sitting huddled and guarding his severely burnt arm as Matt treated him. He looked scared and in shock at the events around him and wouldn't look at any of the police officers who had responded. Julie assumed that it was his need to deny the trauma.
A broad shouldered officer came through the door and took command of the scene. He seemed hardened to the butchery, almost as if he had seen too many gruesome scenes just like this one. Dressed in a dark blue baseball jacket, open collar knit shirt and khaki pants, he donned a pair of latex gloves he had carried in his pocket and began an almost detached visual inspection of the room. The springy snap of the elastic gloves stretching to fit his large hands was in sharp contrast to his motionless stance. Other officers at the scene deferred to his judgment and took instructions from him as he calmly took in the entire scene. He was concerned with the best way to collect the pertinent evidence to tell the story of what had happened.
As Julie and one of the ambulance crew members moved the surviving girl to the gurney, she risked a quick look at the tall officer’s dark eyes and noted that there was a thinly disguised veil of dismay. He had intrigued her with his stony expression and seeming aloofness to the horrors, and his complete focus on the collection of relevant clues. Somewhere in the recesses of her mind, it was a comfort to Julie that the cop was not completely indifferent to this horror or detached from the human cost.
For Matt and Julie, their tour of duty had started out like many others. There had been a call to a minor motor vehicle accident, another for chest pains and one more for a cancer patient who needed to go to the hospital for treatment. Many of the upstate New York communities had contracted with Paramedic services to complement the existing ambulance corps and provide emergency medical response. Whether paid or unpaid, the certified corps always responded with Emergency Medical Technicians who were capable of handling most emergencies. When the Paramedics were dispatched as well, IV drugs and additional hands could often help make critical differences when necessary.
This call had gone out over the radio for a burn victim, so none of the responding police, fire fighters, volunteer ambulance crew nor paramedics were prepared for what they found when they reached this isolated tool shed. From the outside, the grayed wood had seemed serene enough, and the one small window had been caked over with dirt. She didn't think that she would have given the shed a second glance under normal circumstances. But this was far from normal. No one had anticipated the horror scene inside.
Final Sin is the first of my two EMS mystery stories.
I've been a NYS Emergency Medical Technician since 1987 and a volunteer with Stony Point Ambulance Corps ~ my whole family works and volunteers in emergency medical services. While Final Sin, and it's sequel Hyphema, are works of fiction, many of the EMS perspectives are very real.
Being an EMS volunteer has been a completely enriching experience and has given me a wonderful opportunity to be a vital asset to my community which depends on volunteer emergency services. All of these years of being an EMT has also given me great insight into the beauty and fragility of human life.
I hope you will share some of my experiences - please read my books Final Sin and Hyphema. And why not consider volunteering in your own community and helping your neighbors in their times of need?