by: Marty Chrisman
Once the paramedics had Luke out of the plane, they laid him on the portable stretcher they had brought with them and covered him with a specially made heating blanket that they carried with them to use in cases of severe hypothermia. They also started a saline solution to help deal with dehydration. Bo could tell that Luke’s breathing was extremely slow and shallow, not a good sign. One of the paramedics noticed it too and put an oxygen mask over Luke’s nose and mouth to help him breathe. Bo tried to hide the fear that clutched at his heart, the fear that kept whispering in his head and telling him that they may have found Luke too late to save him.
Finally they were ready to head back to the road and the ambulance. The two search and rescue workers carried the stretcher, while the paramedics walked along beside it, checking on Luke’s vital signs every few minutes. Bo walked beside the stretcher too holding tightly to Luke’s hand which was as cold as ice. It was close to midnight before they finally reached the road. As the paramedics loaded Luke into the ambulance, Bo climbed in beside his cousin and sat down on one of the built in benches.
The warmth inside the ambulance combined with his own weariness and lack of sleep since the accident, immediately made Bo drowsy. He struggled to stay awake as the driver turned on the sirens and sped towards the hospital. Bo could hear the other paramedic talking to the hospital on his headset. Although he was talking in a low voice, Bo still made out a word now and then. Words that chilled his heart. Concussion, severe hypothermia, possible internal injuries, comatose, unresponsive.
Bo had dozed off for a second when the excited voice of the paramedic jarred him awake. He opened his eyes in time to see that the paramedic had ripped open Luke’s jacket and his shirt to expose his chest and was shocking him with a pair of paddles. Bo’s heart jumped into his throat as Luke’s body jerked upward from the electrical shock that surged through his muscles. Bo knew that Luke’s heart had stopped and that the paramedic was trying to get it started again.
Finally, the paramedic stopped shocking him and knelt back down beside Luke. Bo heard him telling the hospital that Luke’s heart was beating again on its own. Bo sagged back against the wall as relief washed over him. Licking his lips, Bo asked,
“How much longer till we git to the hospital?”
“About five more minutes.” The paramedic told him
“Which hospital are you taking him too?” Bo asked suddenly remembering that he had no idea where he even was.
“The Lexington Trauma Center.” the paramedic told him. At least now Bo knew that he must be just outside of Lexington, Kentucky. He made a mental note to call Uncle Jesse and Daisy as soon as he got to the hospital. They had to be told about the plane crash and about Luke’s condition. He just hoped he wouldn’t have to call them with the news that Luke didn’t make it.
In a matter of minutes, the ambulance pulled up to the emergency entrance to the Lexington Trauma Center. Bo followed the attendants as they rushed Luke into the emergency room. A nurse stopped Bo before he could follow Luke through the swinging doors into the trauma unit itself.
“I’m sorry, sir but you’ll have to wait out here.”
“But you have to let me go back there with him!” Bo said anxiously “I have to make sure he’s okay!”
“Sir, the doctor will come out and let you know how he is as soon as they finish examining him.” The nurse said in a soothing voice. To distract Bo from his concern about Luke, she said “Why don’t you come over here and sit down so I can get some information for our records?”
Knowing he had no choice, Bo reluctantly followed her to a small desk in the corner of the room and sat down in a chair. The nurse smiled and sat down in front of her computer screen. “Alright,” she said “Let’s start with the patient’s full name.”
“Lukas Kristopher Duke.” Bo told her “But he likes to be called Luke.”
“September 9th, 1960.”
“19 Old Mill Road. Hazzard, Georgia.”
“How was he injured?”
“We were in plane that crashed.” Bo told her
“Does he have any allergies?”
“Yeah, he’s allergic to penicillin.”
““And your relationship to the patient?”
“He’s my cousin.”
“Are you his closest next of kin?”
“That would be my Uncle Jesse.”
“So I assume his parents are deceased?”
“Alright, that’s all I need for now. If you’ll have a seat I’ll make sure the doctor talks to you as soon as he has any information for you about your cousin.”
“Where’s a phone I can use? I have to call home and tell ‘em about Luke.”
“Just down the hall.”
“Thank you, ma’am.” Bo said, shoving himself to his feet. He walked down the hall until he found a row of pay phones. Taking a deep breath to calm his ragged nerves, he picked up the receiver and dialed the operator. When she answered, he told her that he wanted to make a collect call and gave her Uncle Jesse’s phone number and his name.
It took a few minutes for the connection to be made and for Jesse to accept the charges, then Jesse’s voice said cheerfully,
“Bo! How are you, boy?”
“Jesse…” Bo said, unable to continue and unable to keep his voice from cracking.
“Bo, what’s wrong?” Jesse asked immediately picking up on the panicked sound in Bo’s voice even though all he’d said was Jesse’s name. “Where are you?”
“I’m at the Lexington Trauma Center in Lexington, Kentucky. “ Bo managed to tell him
“Are you hurt? What about Luke? Are you boys both alright?”
“No, sir….Luke’s hurt real bad…and I’m scared…” Bo said, finally letting his tears fall freely.
“What in tarnation happened?” Jesse demanded
“We were flying home to surprise y’all for Christmas.” Bo told him “And the plane went down.”
“What?” Jesse yelled. It took him a moment to calm down and lower his voice to a lower register “Are you hurt too?”
“Just some cuts and bruises and some broken ribs.” Bo told him “I don’t know about Luke yet….we just got to the hospital a little bit ago and they’re still examining him….but I know it’s bad….”
“You hang in there, Boy. Daisy and I will be there just as soon as we can.”
“Yes, Sir.” Bo said “Please hurry…” He hung up and leaned his head against the wall for a moment, then raised his hand to wipe away his tears. Turning, he walked back to the waiting room hoping to hear some news soon about Luke.