by on May 23, 2014 :: 0 comments

photo by Tyler Malone

The frat near Whittier decided to have a clown party. It was Good Friday and seemed like the thing to do.

Nine teenagers from the party decided to cram into a top-down convertible and drive home. It’s what clowns do. Pile into a car. But clowns usually don’t do that drunk on a major California highway.

The car hit a tree going seventy-miles-per-hour. None of the clowns had seatbelts on. Most of the clowns went through the front windshield. Or over the front windshield. Some hit the tree. Some went past the tree.

They landed in parking lot. They landed on grass. They landed on each other.

We arrived to find a pile of clowns.

My partner ran up to the driver who was pinned behind the steering wheel, the only person left in the car. She had facial burns from the deployed air bags. Smeared makeup.

“Don’t look at me,” my partner said, “Keep your eyes forward. Don’t nod. In case you have a spine injury.”

“Can you hear me?” my partner said.

“Yes,” said the woman, nodding.

“Don’t nod,” said my partner.

“How many were in the car?” my partner said.

“I can’t feel my feet.”

“How many were in the car?” my partner said.

“All of us,” the woman said.

We had already called for backup, for additional resources, for as many ambulances as we had available.

I went up to a clown on the ground, stepping over a corpse. You never step over a patient but you can step over a corpse. We don’t treat corpses. We’re looking for arterial bleeds we can stop. We’re looking for airways we can open. We could care less about anybody who looks like they’ve already had a lengthy conversation with the Grim Reaper. If you are dead then you are now officially a thing. We don’t have time to mess around. Time is tissue. They pound that in your head in EMT school. Time is tissue.

I start to put an occlusive dressing on a femoral arterial bleed. The blood coming out in spurts, in time with the heartbeat. You can tell each heart contraction by the stream coming out, like a little boy statue pissing, stopping, pissing again; stopping, pissing blood again.

A clown is sitting there, bleeding, and not stopping his own blood from flowing. So I help him. While giving direct pressure, while trying to wrap the gash with one hand, I ask him, “Are you a zombie clown or a real clown?” I’m panicked. I’m talking nonsense. Or sound like I’m talking nonsense. He looks at me like I’m an idiot. Or maybe it’s just the hypovolemic shock, the stupidity that comes from a combination of blood loss and alcohol.

“What I’m saying is are you all supposed to be dressed up as bloody clowns or are you regular clowns?”

He looks at me like I’m still an idiot.

“I’m asking because I want to know if any of the blood is fake blood.” I don’t want to be treating fake wounds. I only want real wounds.

I see blood everywhere. A femur can lose five liters. There are femoral bleeds. Brachial bleeds. Carotid bleeds. We have abrasions, lacerations, contusions, avulsions. We have a whole rainbow of damage to the skin. The result is a parking lot turned red, grass with thick puddles, rose-petal flecks on everything. Freckles of blood splattered on faces.

“We’re regular clowns,” the kid says.

editors note:

Send them in, all of them! – Tyler Malone

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