Emergency Personnel are trained in response measures so that when something really bad happens, the Training kicks in and they work on auto-pilot till their brain gets over the shock. -- Anon Guest
In an emergency, it's easy to tell the trained personnel from the civilians. The civilians are the ones busy panicking, screaming, running around and generally being useless. It's the job of emergency personnel to wrangle the runners whilst dealing with the problem that caused the upset in the first place.
The Emergency Response Teams of every station are primed and ready to respond in instants, because a space-borne emergency are where the instants count. Station machinery and aparatus act in the seconds where it takes a cogniscent to react and act. In the event of sudden decompression, the Hungry Caterpillar catches and safely encapsulates any unprotected cogniscents before they can suffer severe damage. Trauma therapist are available for post-capture shock.
The nature of emergency can change, but the personnel sought are always the level-headed type who remember their training and can improvise with available materials in a pinch. Which is why it was so vital for Rael to undergo ERT training. In an emergency, people look for the bright red and reflective outfits, but they also look for the rainbows of JOAT coats. Because a JOAT can do everything with anything. Nine times out of ten, the ERTs will arrive and take over before a JOAT has any time to get very creative, but the tenth time is always the doozy.
Rael grew to despise the interactive holographic simulator, with its paper puppets and realistic bodily fluids. He was fine with the silicone simulaids and their coloured saline, but the instant they became like to living beings, he couldn't help but think of them as such. It did not help that the simulations were based on real situations and the simulated victims were programmed to respond like the original beings.
The worst part. The absolute worst of the pile of worsts, besides the sight and smell of varied species effluvium, was the simple fact that he was engineered to never throw up. He wanted to be sick. Numerous times. He wanted to purge his body, so desperately. The instinct was in him, but the ability was simply not there.
He lost count of the number of times he had to stop early because of his own engineered flaws. Shaking and shocky and a good sneeze away from losing control of his form as well as his outward colour palette. And all he could think of was how the simulated victim was suffering because he was a flawed product from Wave of the Future.
It took him three months to stop calling himself Bargain Bin or Factory Reject.
He passed, eventually. He, like many others who were given a shaky pass by the ERT training course, was marked in the logs as not good around blood and allowed to continue on with his life.
It wasn't until years later, when working on Dorsal Spike Dock #28, that an emergency blowout occurred near his position.
He didn't think. There was no time to think. He barely registered the stations Hungry Catterpillar tendrils scooping up newly-spaced survivors. Nor did he think about the nearest tendril coiling itself into the hole in the stations' skin. A gigantic worm imitating the fabled little Dutch boy and keeping those who had grabbed onto something safe.
There was someone bleeding. He knew what to do about blood. He had been trained. He picked someone in the stunned watchers who was not making noise, but standing around. Tapped their arm. "Call Emergency Services. Now." He waited for their understanding before tending to the wounded. One he could save. Three who could wait. One crying, but unharmed.
He took out his all-purpose medkit. Handed out silver heat blankets to the three and the cryer. Covered the injury from their sight and set to work. They were human, which meant that they could survive for quite some time. Good. Keep victim still. Pad the piercing matter that caused the injury. Only a fool would attempt to take a piercing item out of an injury unless it was very obviously toxic. And this one wasn't. Pad the wound. Bind it. Tight, but not too tight. Ensure that circulation is still occurring. Administer warm, sweet beverage and insist the victim stay as still as possible.
Done one. Move on. Minor contusions. Antiseptic. Bandaging. Move on. He processed two more cogniscents past the initial human's injury before the ERTs arrived and set him apart with a gigantic cheesecake and a heater blanket. Which was extremely welcome when the panic finally hit.
His hands still had blood on them. The ERT's had been understanding and given him utensils to eat with. A bio-friendly dessert spork that was maple pancake flavoured. And there was blood on the handle where he was touching it.
And blood on his hands.
Someone else's vital fluid.
And it was on him.
It was touching his surface.
And there was a kind human with a warm wash-cloth. Wiping it away. Talking in soothing tones with words he didn't parse because...
They were breathing on his face. Looking into his eyes. Breathing. Wanting him to breathe. Just like that.
Rael copied them. The blood had gone away. The kind human was an ERT member. Skin almost as black as the depths of space. Smile as warm as sunshine.
"There we are. Finish your cheesecake, now. And I'll be back with a hot chocolate, okay?"
Rael nodded. "Extra cream, please."
He now had the capability to examine the scene. People were being seen to. The dead were carried away on stretchers with useless breather masks over their faces. He knew why. It was to ease panic. Many were recipients of hot chocolate or hot, milky tea. There were even special blends for the Havenworlders, and they got theirs at far more tepid temperatures.
Forensics was documenting the aftermath. Recording people at their work.
Later, when all were ushered away from the scene, this entire sector would be closed off for investigation, and then repairs. In a week or less, there would be little clue that any of this had happened.
And he had helped. On automatic. Despite the fact that he was completely horrible around others' suffering, let alone leaking bodily fluids.
The hot chocolate was deliberately both too hot and too sweet. And some blessed soul had added an extra dollop of real cream. Comfort and warmth. Things every cogniscent needed.
"You saved a life, today," said ERT Kathi. He could read her nametag. Kathi Wertenbaum. With the white crescent and plus on a field of red. And blood on her uniform that she was busy sponging off. "Good work."
Rael waited for the impending qualifier. There was none. He collected his wits enough to say, "Thank you."
"I'm going to sit with you until it's your turn to head down to Medik Central. Make sure you're okay. Is that okay?"
He could only nod. He had dealt with the tenth one. With presence of mind. Calm in the face of adversity. And an inability to panic because his body remembered what to do. Not him. Not his mind. Not the part of him that, if he thought about blood, couldn't come near it. Just the repetitious programming that the ERT training had plugged into his reflexes.
The most shocking thing was how successful it had been.
[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / vectorshot]
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