Copyright © 2012 by Outside the Box Ink. Image from http://jennifersnapshot.blogspot.com
For the first time in his 10-year tenure at the hospital, Dr. Philip Conrad was giving the orders to extend triage into the cafeteria.
His first patient was waiting in the ER when he arrived for his shift at 0600. She was presenting flu-like symptoms and could barely finish a sentence without dry heaving. The pitiful creature’s eyes were red and puffy with a little white discharge that almost looked like pink eye. She had a 101 degree fever that began during the night, and had cold, clammy skin despite being fully clothed and wrapped in a blanket. She lived alone and, to her knowledge, had not been around anyone ill. The last thing she had eaten was leftover chicken cacciatore that she had prepared herself. She had normal bowel movements up until her arrival at the hospital, where she had used the bathroom twice in 20 minutes. When she scurried to go again, Dr. Conrad gave her a plastic cup to take a sample and discovered that her feces were green.
After prescribing rest, plenty of fluids and a suppository antibiotic regimen , Dr. Conrad saw his next patient. He had the same symptoms but had struggled through them for two days now. He was severely dehydrated and pale. His fever was also 101 and his wife brought him in because he was acting delirious, seeing and hearing this that weren’t there.
Within an hour the ER was filled with patients and they overflowed into the hallway. They all shared the same high fever but their symptoms presented differently. After more physicians are called in to assist, Dr. Conrad steals away into his office to consult the Center for Disease Control. Their website is down so he makes a phone call.
He listens to the pre-recorded messages and impatiently taps his fingers on the desk as he waits for the operator to pick up. The call goes to voicemail with a message:
“Beginning yesterday, emergency medical facilities in the Greater Los Angeles Area have been overflowing capacity with patients presenting influenza. It is uncertain what strain is responsible for this outbreak and the GEOforce have not ruled out the possibility of a biological attack by the Freebirds. It is also uncertain how the strain is being transmitted and whether the symptoms are acute or will be chronic. The CDC website server has temporarily gone down due to a high volume of Interweb traffic. Medical staff are instructed to collect patient symptoms for their respective facilities and upload their reports on a daily basis once the server is again functioning. This steady flow of information will allow the CDC to identify the root cause of the outbreak and identify an effective course of treatment. Our current recommendation is to prescribe patients a course of antibiotics and treatment of symptoms with over-the-counter medication.”
Dr. Conrad is disturbed to realize that whatever was happening in Los Angeles yesterday has already reached San Francisco.
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