Story Excerpt
Code Triage

flame div

The doors to the emergency area swung open and someone shouted out, "I need some help out here."

Pat wrapped his stethoscope around his neck and took off running. Fire fighter Paul Rafferty was walking in with a man in his arms. Pat grabbed a gurney and pulled it over. "What happened?"

Raff carefully lowered the man down onto the gurney and then stepped back so Pat could start checking his vitals. "We were working that three car pileup on the pass and found this guy in the trunk of one of the cars. The ambulances had already left so the chief just had me drive him in. We figured it would be quicker than calling for another ambulance."

Pat's jaw dropped as he glanced up. "He was in the trunk?"

Raff nodded.


"Is he going to make it?" Raff asked. "I tried to get here as quickly as I could, but there's a lot of snow up there."

"There's snow on the pass?" If so, it had come early this year. They usually didn't get snow on the pass until around Thanksgiving.


"We were thinking that three car pileup might have been a black ice incident, but snow makes much more sense."

Pat went back to checking the patient. The guy had a few bruises on his face, a bump on the back of his head, and abrasions on his wrists. Pat's brow flickered with unease when he saw the injuries. It looked as if the guy had been pretty well worked over.

"Was he tied up?" he asked.

"Yeah." Raff nodded. "His hands were tied behind his back with duct tape. The chief cut it off before we put him in my truck. He's keeping it for the sheriff."

Pat was pretty sure this guy had been a kidnap victim, which meant the sheriff would be interested in more than just the duct tape.

"Okay, I'm going to get him in back and have DB take a look at him."

"I need to get back to the scene, but can you let me know how he's doing?"

Pat smiled as he nodded. "I'll let you know just as soon as DB gives me a diagnosis."

"I'd appreciate it."

Pat turned and started wheeling the patient through the double doors and then to one of the exam rooms. "Linda, can you page DB? We have another patient from that car crash up on the pass."

"Sure will," the other nurse replied.

A moment later, the intercom sounded, paging Dr. Berkley.

Pat started taking vitals on the patient. DB would want to know as much as possible when he walked in. Pat also wanted to make sure everything was documented for the sheriff. If this was a kidnapping, they'd need all the evidence they could get.

"Linda," he called out. "Get me some evidence bags."

The patient's clothes would need to be cut off. Pat planned to put everything in the evidence bags. They were slightly different than the regular bags they used for patient's effects. Evidence bags had a seal on them and a place for the nurse in charge of the patient to sign their name. It kept a record of the chain of evidence in case there was a criminal case.

Pat was pretty sure that was going to happen here.

He lifted the bottom of guy's black cotton shirt and then winced when he found more bruising. It didn't look as if there was internal bleeding, but looks could be deceiving. No matter what, his ribs were going to be sore for awhile. He reached for a pair of scissors so he could cut the shirt off.

Pat jumped and let out a very unmanly squeak when his wrist was grabbed. The patient was awake and staring right at him through one good eye and one eye so swollen Pat could barely tell it was brown.

"Get me out of here," the guy whispered.

"My name is Pat. I'm a nurse. You're in a hospital," Pat said as he tried to pull the man's tight grip off his wrist. "You're safe now."

"Not safe." The man groaned and stiffened for just a moment, his head arching back. "Need out of here. Not safe."

The guy was obviously still terrified, and Pat couldn't blame him. He'd be terrified if he had been kidnapped, too. "Can you tell me your name?"

"Special Agent Elam Darcy. I'm FBI."

Well, damn.