Copyright © 2014 Toye Lawson Brown
First published by BooksbyToye 2014
Cover design copyright Lenny C. Middlebrook and Toye Lawson Brown.
Published by: BooksbyToye
All rights reserved
I acknowledge God as the head of my life and without Him; I would not be able to do what I enjoy. Second, I like to acknowledge my family for giving me the strength and support to keep me going when I wanted to quit. No dream is worth having if you are not willing to put in the effort and my family enforces my efforts.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
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My personal quote: “Sometimes I wish I could crawl into one of my fictional worlds and live there”—Toye Lawson Brown
THE MEN OF CLE-FD
The Orlando Torres Story
Engine 30, Ladder 30, Medic 15, report to the scene of a multiple vehicle accident with possible injuries located at 15011 W. 150th and Lorain Avenue
. Lieutenant Orlando Torres jumped into the commander’s seat of Engine 30, turning on the lights and the siren. He replied to dispatch. “Engine 30 responding.” Blowing the horn as Engines 30 and Ladder 30 roared from the firehouse bays and down Lorain Avenue.
When the alarm sounded, the men scramble from their prospective places in Firehouse 30 to race into action and their gear to respond to the 911 emergency call, and to do what they were known for…save lives.
Soon as his crew arrived on the scene, he immediately directed his men on what positions to take. “Pete, have your men check the car on the curb for injuries. Harper, get those people away from the sidewalk in case that power line decides to snap. Colby, have dispatch call the power company. Pauley, you’re with me; we’ll check on the victims in the red car,” he said as they sprinted to the compact car smashed head-on into a utility pole.
He checked the area for safety before touching the vehicle. He did not like that the wood had split farther up on the pole forcing it to lean inward. If it fell, it would topple over on the hood of the car making extraction of the victim even harder. He called to one of his crew. “Peplowski, get a rope and secure that utility pole for now, if that things falls we’ll have bigger problems on our hands.”
Looking inside the vehicle, he saw the victim’s head slumped over the steering wheel buried by the deflated air bag. “Hey, if you can hear me, are you okay?” He called looking up as the wire overhead sparked.
The victim did not respond to his command. The windows were down in the vehicle due to the breezy spring day. Firehouse 30 responded to many vehicle accidents on this end of Lorain sometimes twice in the same day. Traffic on this end of Lorain Avenue remained heavily congested with cars and pedestrians all day long. The main intersection — host to a major box retailer, locally owned businesses and many fast food restaurants — also it was the throughway to get travelers to the highway if they were heading north or south of the city.
Taking off his gloves, he tucked them inside his pocket. He leaned the victim’s head back to feel for a carotid pulse. Reaching for his radio, he reported to the paramedics standing by on the condition of the one victim in the car. “Medic 15, I got a strong pulse on an African-American female, possibly early to late twenties. Victim is bleeding from the mouth, has contusions on her face and neck, and is currently unresponsive. Get me a C-collar to stabilize her neck, and be on standby with a gurney soon as we get her freed,” he said. Pulling on the driver’s side door, it would not give. Tilting the helmet back on his head, he shouted to his crew member. “How are the doors over there, Pauley?”
This damn door is jammed too, Lieutenant.”
Get the claws so we can pop the door and bring the saw in case we have to go through the hood. The victim appears to be wedged against the steering wheel and the seatbelt is stuck. She could have internal injuries or injuries to her lower extremities.”
10-4, Lieutenant, but do you smell that? The car is leaking gas and other fluids pretty bad,” Pauley said.
Yeah, I do. Harper, get some foam over here stat!” Torres looked down at his boots pooling in the liquids draining from the car. He strained his arm muscles trying again to open the door. “We gotta get her freed. If that power line falls, we are all toast,” he said grunting.
Harper held the tip of the hose spraying foam around the car. Torres yelled to Pauley. “Pauley, forget the claws, get the reciprocating saw, we’re going through the hood. I don’t want to risk igniting anything and these damn small cars are the worst to extract victims from.”
Lieutenant, you get inside and protect the victim; I’ll cut through the hood of the car,” Pauley yelled over the noise of the saw’s motor.
Torres slid the upper half of his body inside tight space of the passenger’s window. Shielding the victim’s head with a portion of his turnout, he gave the order. “Okay, I got her covered, get the hood off this wreck.”
As the powerful blade cut through the metal of the car, the woman started to squirm. Torres placed a hand on her shoulder. “Calm down, ma’am.”
She cried out apparently in pain. “What happened? I can’t move….ouch it hurts….it hurts.”
Relax, okay, you’re in good hands. I am Lieutenant Torres with CFD. You’ve been in a car accident.”
My back; is something stabbing me in my back?”
He tried to keep her from moving around. “You’re gonna have to relax until we get you out. What is your name? Can you tell me your name?”
Her head lay against his chest under his turnout. “Regan Richards.”
Okay, Regan. I need you to do me a favor and be still, sweetheart. If you’re hurt internally, you’re gonna make it worse.”
My chest is on fire,” she mumbled.
Her speech slurred from her drifting in and out of consciousness. He could hardly understand what she was saying. “Hold on, we have paramedics waiting to take you to the hospital. Do you have any medical conditions we should be concerned about?”
Her lips barely parted to answer him. “No.”
Good. How old are you?” He wanted to keep her talking and her mind off what they were doing.
I’m not telling.”
He chuckled. “Really? Even in an emergency you’re keeping your age a secret?”
He could hear the shallow gasps of air pulling from her lungs. He lifted his coat so she could get air but kept the sparks from the saw off her face. Her words were in short sentences as she said, “My secret.”
I’m hip to that, but I wouldn’t be asking if it weren’t important.”
See that wasn’t so bad,” he said looking down at her face.
I can’t breathe. It hurts to take a breath.”
He took her hand as she shut her eyes. “Squeeze my hand and look at me,” he said. “We’re almost done. So are you married or have any kids?”
I’m separated.” Tears slid down her bloody face. “Call my sister. She’s waiting for me.”
Okay, we’ll get someone to call your sister. Right now I don’t want you to worry about anyone but you.”
God, I’m hurting so bad.” Her eyes clamped shut again.
Torres saw her fading fast before him. Lifting his head to see the blade of the saw cutting through the roof, he said, “Pauley, step it up. I’m losing her.”
We’re done, Lieutenant. I’ll start on the steering wheel.”
The bright sunlight flooded the car as firefighters peeled the hood off the demolished Volkswagen Beetle. The woman immediately began to scream from the pain as Pauley cut through the steering wheel releasing the pressure against her abdomen.
Squeeze my hand harder, you are almost free; so don’t leave me now,” Torres said in a gentle voice. She obviously had internal injuries from the way she was crying and clutching her stomach. All his years as a firefighter, women and children were the hardest on him. Male victims toughed it out, but women and children pulled at his heartstrings. “We’re almost there. I’m going to lean you back so the paramedics can help you.”
Please don’t leave me,” she cried holding onto his hand.
The blood on her face had sprigs of hair sticking to the cuts from the broken glass. If she had not been wearing a seatbelt, she would be dead from her head impacting the windshield. He patted the back of her hand. “I’m not gonna leave you yet, but the paramedics are here to help you.” He moved aside so a paramedic could put an oxygen mask over her face.
Torres helped them carefully remove her from the car and onto a patient drag. That is when she finally let go of his hand. “You’re going to be okay. These guys will take good care of you.”
Thank you,” she mumbled under the oxygen mask as paramedics whisked her away.
He tipped the end of his helmet. “You’re welcome and take care.” As they loaded her into the ambulance, he looked around him. The mess from the accident would take hours to clean. “Come on, guys, let’s get this area cleaned so we can return to base.”
One Year Later
July, 2014—Illumination’s Nightclub
The music blared through the club as men and women danced in time to the thumping hip-hop music. The club was crowded with friends and family celebrating Regan’s 32nd birthday. She popped her fingers dancing over to her younger sister Lincoln. “Girl, this party is the bomb! Thank you for throwing it for me. I haven’t seen some of our relatives in forever.”
Lincoln returned the hug saying, “Anything for you, Regan. I’m glad you agreed to come home for the party. A lot of our family is here that missed you last time you visited.”
Regan closed her lips around the tip of the straw taking a sip of the strawberry daiquiri. The huge drink given to her in a pretty keepsake goblet was complementary from the bartender as a birthday present and would last her the night. “I needed this party. It’s been a long time since I’ve been out and had fun,” she said swallowing.
Carter could’ve come with you. She never visits anymore since she got that promotion at work.”
Lincoln, her life is busy. Anyhow, I think she was glad to get rid of me.”
Lincoln nodded. “I bet you were crying on her and mom’s shoulder about Mark.”
Not all the time,” she answered sitting down.
Seriously, Regan, after the way he treated you? I wanted to hit you upside the head.”
Regan took a second sip of her drink. The liquor was strong and burned as it traveled down her throat. “Mark and I were together for a long time. It’s hard to let go of the good times we shared together.”
Regan, he had an affair and left you twice for the same white woman. I tried to tell you what he was doing, but you wanted to play dumb and live in denial. Showing you those photos was the only way to make you see the truth and to get rid of him for good.”
Annoyed Regan rolled her eyes. “I don’t care to discuss it any further, Lincoln. You or mom never liked Mark.”
No, we didn’t. He was one of those people that felt he walked on air. I had no doubt he would not be successful, but I also knew he did not care who got hurt in the process of him getting to the top. Regan, he took you away from us because he knew he could control you if we weren’t around.”
He did not control me. And he took me away from Cleveland because he received a scholarship to attend college. I had to be with my husband.”
Lincoln rolled her eyes. “You broke mom’s heart. As much as she despised Mark, she wanted to have a big family wedding but you eloped instead.”
Regan lowered her eyes from the shame as if it happened yesterday. “Extravagant weddings are a waste of money. Mom didn’t have any money, and I didn’t want to spend her last dime on me. Anyhow, Mark is out of my life, and I’m missing him less and less each day. So can you let it go? I want to enjoy my party.”