After World War One it was called
After World War Two it was called
After Vietnam it was called
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Frank Pierce, 28, drives an EMS vehicle for
Our Lady of Mercy Hospital, New York City.
He has been a paramedic for five years.
EXT. NEW YORK STREETS--NIGHT
An EMS "bus" careens around a corner, tires squealing, lights
flashing, siren whoop-whooping, swooping through Stygian
canyons of New York.
FRANK PIERCE, 28, drives. He wears dark cargo pants, black
boots, a white shirt with the paramedic badge, "EMS" gold
logo on one collar, "OLM" on the other. "Our Lady of Mercy
Paramedic" is inscribed in white across the back of his
navy jacket. On his belt: two-way radio, leather gloves,
beeper, drug kit, multi-purpose tool kit, mini-flashlight,
LARRY, 35, overweight, his partner for the night, rides techie
(shotgun), both hands clutching the dash.
Frank scans the blurring cityscape for hidden danger. He is
a young man of slight frame and open face--his life, his
possible futures, still before him: behind those open eyes,
beneath those dark shadows: hollowness beckons.
Dispatcher's voice crackles through the cab static: "Ladder
4, respond to a 10-22, four flight residential, 417 East 32.
13 Boy, men's room Grand Central, man set his pants on fire.
Bad burns. 17 David, at 177 East 24, there's a
woman who says a roach crawled in her ear. Can't get it out,
says she's going into cardiac arrest ..."
Frank's detached voice speaks over the urban landscape:
Thursday started out with a bang: a
gunshot to the chest on a drug deal
gone bad. Heat, humidity, moonlight--
all the elements in place for a long
weekend. I was good at my job: there
were periods when my hands moved
with a speed and skill beyond me and
my mind worked with a cool authority
I had never known. But in the last
year I had started to lose that
control. Things had turned bad. I
hadn't saved anyone for months. I
just needed a few slow nights, a
week without tragedy followed by a
couple of days off.
The radio continues: "Zebra, 13Z, 524 East 17--"
The ambulance breaks to a halt in front of a row of vintage
walk-ups. Frank and Larry jump out: Frank lugs the EKG monitor
and airway bag, Larry the drug box, yellow oxygen
pack slung over his shoulder. Neighbors crowd around.
Which apartment? Which apartment?
Move back. Where's the stairs? 5A.
Oh Jesus, it's Mr. Burke.
The front door opens, a young boy holding it.
in emergency situations, either on the street
or in the hospital, it is assumed there is continual
background noise--voices, sirens, cries, questions, etc.
INT. TENEMENT STAIRWELL--NIGHT
Four flights up:
Frank and Larry climbing rotting steps,
gray-yellow painted walls, red doors with three locks each,
Larry, out of breath, his stomach rolling around like a
bowling ball in a bag.