Triage and Treat
Alex's ears were ringing from the noise and he barely registered the second explosion, much bigger then the first occur right beside them in the hanger.
Hex, who was closer to the secondary detonation, closed his eyes and pressed Amber to the ground as hard as he could, his body protecting hers. He concluded that out of sheer luck the first explosion saved their lives; if they had still been standing when the hanger exploded they would have been torn to shreds.
That is assuming everyone has survived the first explosion, he bitterly finished in his head.
Li was the first to look up and see the black smoke billowing from two directions. She turned her head and felt something heavy in her settle, as she saw all her friends alive and looking about, scared.
She locked eyes with Paulo beside her, who was still looking back disbelievingly where the plane had been.
Typically, Alex was the first to recover his senses, slowly getting to his feet he dashed back to his friends.
"Is everyone alright?" He frantically gasped. The air felt too heavy to breath all of a sudden.
Getting a nod from everyone, a relieved Alex settled to a knee by his friends to plan their next course of action, as flaming debris rained down around them.
"What the hell just happened?" Amber angrily cried, still upset and clutching Hex's side.
"This was no accident," Hex growled with a steely tone in his voice.
"We will figure it out later" Alex decided, as the night was punctuated by screams from the nearby hanger. "Right now there are people who need our help."
Proving why he was their leader and taking command, Alex started snapping out orders.
"Paulo get back to the minivan get the first aid kit, you and Hex are on triaging and treating the injured. Amber, I need you to see what else you can get in the way of resources, one first aid kit wont last long.
Alex turned to Li " You and me will be on extrication of the injured from the hanger."
"Everyone know what they are doing?" He asked sternly, getting to his feet and looking at his friends, who nodded grimly, "Alright then, lets go."
"Stay safe," He added as a final caution to his team of teens.
Paulo and Hex sprinted towards the minivan, Hex already on his phone to emergency services.
Amber decided to try the nearest undamaged hanger, poking her head in the door, she noticed a pallet of supplies that hadn't been loaded yet. She smiled flatly; it's all for a good cause right? She thought as she tore off the strapping and reached for the medical packs.
Li and Alex were having a much harder time; people were now stumbling out of the burning sheds coughing and screaming. As best they could, they shepherded the wounded towards Paulo and Hex, who had set up a treatment area by the van.
Alex grabbed Li's hand as she prepared to run into the burning hanger following the sound of cries for help.
"Li stop!" He yelled, turning her to face him "It's not like the bloody movies! You can't run back into a burning building and expect to survive"
Furious and fighting back tears from the smoke, she screamed back at him. "What the hell are we supposed to do then?"
"We don't have the right equipment to fully go in or to put it out, but maybe we can create another way for people to escape though," Alex said calmly.
Li nodded and together they moved round to the back of the building.
"Here" Amber shouted, dropping an armful of medical supplies at the edge of Paulo's treatment blanket. " There's plenty more where that came from too."
"We need it all!" Yelled Paulo, losing the relaxed edge to his voice, "And I need you too, when you have got everything."
Glancing around him at the chaos, Paulo felt overwhelmed. He had 13 people from the building gathered on a blanket by the side of a road, with just him and Hex to help them.
The patients were in varying states of injury, there were varying degrees of cuts, burns, bruises and most had broken limbs. They were all coughing from the smoke and many were screaming in pain.
One woman had gruesomely lost an arm in the explosion, the pair of teens had quickly fashioned a tourniquet out of a belt to slow the bleeding. Paulo still wore ragged strips of her severed arm muscle smeared on his wrists after the intensive bandaging she had required.
The young man that Hex was looking after had been dragged out by his friends and had obviously been very close to the plane when it exploded. Hex watched as his breathing became more labored and suddenly stopped.
In panic, Hex looked up to meet Paulo's eyes, who nodded sadly then returned to bandaging the woman's arm.
"We can't save everyone." Paulo quietly muttered in realization.
Hex felt tears well in his emerald eyes, as he respectfully brought the dead man's blanket up to cover his badly scarred face.
Around the back of the hanger Li and Alex heard a banging on the corrugated iron walls, the muffled cries of a man filtered through. Finding the section closest to the noise, the two friends dug their fingers into the gaps between the sheets of iron.
The pressure wave created by the explosion had all but knocked out the walls of the iron shed, but it still took all their strength before it would move.
"Where's Paulo when you need him?" Li breathed through grated teeth.
Alex dug his fingers in further, ignoring the cutting pain and with one final heave the sheet finally came away from the building.
Smoke instantly started wafting out of the new hole and a terrified man with his shirt on fire bolted out into the open ground and started rolling. Li took off her jacket and used that to help the man put out the flames, while Alex tried to peer through the thick smoke.
Coughing as smoke drifted straight into his mouth and eyes, Alex froze.
Through the smoke he could make out a pair of legs lying on the ground mere meters away. With Li helping the burnt man over to Paulo, Alex dove in through the gap on his hands and knees to grab the pair of legs.
Straining with all his might he tugged on the legs, which didn't move an inch. Just as he about to give up he felt another body beside him in the gap and turned to see Amber grinning up at him.
"Need a hand there Alex?" She wheezed, he nodded and pointed at the man.
They held onto a leg each and tugged with all their might, finally feeling something on top of the body move and the effort required to move it drastically reduced. They dragged the body out of the smoke and saw that it was a middle-aged man; much to their amazement he was still breathing too.
Li returned in shock to find another patient and between the three of them, they manhandled the unconscious man over to Paulo.
With the added manpower of the others arriving back, Paulo was able to focus on the critical man who had just arrived.
Paulo lifted his shirt to look at the man's breathing and saw that one side of the man's chest was not rising with the other side. He quickly found the cause and saw a large ugly bruise over the ribs on the dormant side, when he touched the bruise he felt bones move underneath his hand.
The man's breathing was getting worse and he was becoming increasingly pale, Paulo could only feel a very weak pulse at his neck.
Suddenly he clicked as to what was happening; the ailing man's lung was punctured from the broken ribs and this was causing him to go into shock.
Paulo had read about this and knew that a hole in the lung caused the chest to fill with air, which increased pressure in the chest and crushed the heart and remaining lung.
If he didn't find some way to release this pressure the man would die.
"Hex!" Paulo screamed, knowing what he needed to do.
"What is it Paulo? What do you need?" Hex panted, having sprinted over at Paulo's cry.
"Amigo. No time for questions I need a needle and a syringe now, the biggest needle you can find." Paulo, looked at his friend, " and please hurry."
Hex sprinted back to Paulo carrying the requested items from the medical supplies and tossed them to him
"Is that what you were after?" Hex asked concerned.
"Perfect." Hissed Paulo looking at the large bore cannula usually used for serious intravenous access. "Now hold him still."
Paulo removed the safety cap off the needle and deftly attached the syringe to the back of it.
Carefully he measured until he was just above the third rib and in line with the middle of the collarbone. Paulo looked his friend in the eye holding his gaze for a lingering second, his look saying 'trust me' and plunged the needle into the unconscious man's chest.
Both teenagers held their breath as Paulo pulled carefully on plunger of the syringe causing it to slowly rise and their patient's breathing got easier.
"Holy shit, what the hell was that?" Hex whispered in awe, looking at the needle still in the man's chest.
Paulo couldn't help but give his cocky cowboy grin as he answered, his trembling hands gave him away though. "That was a chest decompression. I want to be a paramedic when I finish school next year, I learned that in one of the textbooks I bought for the course."
Hex was blown away, not least of all by the fact that Paulo was already thinking about life after school. As he looked at his friend with a new respect the flashing red and blue lights of emergency vehicles washed over them.