An elderly nurse with short, dark hair and a scowl implanted on her red face glared at the small crowd of students as they passed the nurses station on 2 East at Shoreline hospital. The year was 2020.
"Stay away from the nurses station, kids," Mr. Yankshire ordered. "They have lots of work to do." He directed the kids down the hall and stopped in front of a large picture window with "In case of emergency break glass" written in large white letters on it.
"Okay, now this is an interesting display." The teacher pointed at the young man with dark hair and white lab coat behind the glass. He was visibly sleeping in a recliner amid an array of equipment. Mr. Yankshire rapped on the glass, cleared his throat, and rapped on the glass again. The man behind the glass stirred, but did not wake.
"Who's that, Mr. Yankshire?" A young poc-faced boy asked.
"That, my students, is the respiratory therapist." To the left of the window is a small sign that read "Respiratory Therapy Cave: Rick Frea on duty." Under the green sign is an intercom box with a red light under it. Beneath that is a hammer hanging from a chain. To the right of the window is a large white metal door with no knob, and Mr. Yankshire pounds on it.
The man behind the glass finally opens his eyes. "Oh, hey, Roger. How's things going today?"
"Great," Mr. Yankshire said. "We were wondering if we could have a tour."
"What you see is what you get," said the respiratory therapist. He waved a hand to indicate all his equipment. "To my left are my ventilators, and to my right is my breathing treatment machine." He jerked a hand through the air over his head. Mr. Yankshire heard an audible click. He looks to his right and noticed the light on the intercom had changed to green.
"Hello. Hello." A tinny voice shoots from the intercom.
Questions pop from the mouths of the six high schoolers: "What is a ventilator?", " I don't see no breathing treatment machine?", "You get to sleep on the job?"
"Um," the teacher scratches his head, "well, let's be nice. We'll let the RT explain himself. Rick, would you be willing to tell us about your job."
The RT winced, then reached a hand into the air and appeared to pull a cord Roger knew was there but was certain the kids didn't see until just now by the expressions on their faces. There is a click behind him and then a misting sound. "Okay," the RT said, "Now look in the patient room behind you."
Mr. Yankshire turned and saw a mist coming from the room. He lead the students through the mist and into the room.
"Holy cow!" one female student exclaimed.
"Well, good morning to you all," the patient said. He was an elderly man with a hunched over back. He was sitting on the edge of the bed leaning on the bedside stand, and he was breathing in deeply the mist that filled the room.
"What is this?" a student asked.
"That, my students, is a a mist from the breathing treatment machine." Mr Yankshire pointed to a vent above the patent's head. "It's coming from that vent there."
"What's a breathing treatment?"
"Well, we'll let Mr. RT explain that to you." And, with that, he lead the students out of the room and back to the window with "In case of emergency break glass" written on it.
"Pretty interesting, hey?" The Rt said. He was smiling. "This is the best job in the world. You see, when a patient is short of breath I pull a cord from a respective room and give that patient a breathing treatment."
A chorus from the students rang out. "Cool."
"Or, better yet, I give a treatment at any doctors whim. It's easy as pulling a cord." He laughed at his pun.
"How does it work?"
"It's kind of like a giant mist tent from..." the RT stopped as he laughed at himself again, then stopped abruptly as he seemed to realize nobody was laughing with him.
"What's a mist tent?" The poc-faced student asked.
"It's an ancient device RTs used to use to, um," he scratched his head, "Oh, I guess that's ancient history. This is how we give breathing treatments today." He waved his hand again through the air and Mr. Yankshire could see the strings waving through the air over the RTs head.
"I didn't see those before. What are those?" It was a female student this tiime.
"These are breathing treatment cords. If a patient in room 207 is needs a breathing treatment, I pull cord number 206. It's easy as..."
"Okay, step back students." Mr. Yankshire interrupted, and motioned his students to the side as a man in a suit rushed to the window. He pushed the button by the intercom, and an audible click is heard. Mr. Yankshire observed the light by the intercom had turned red.
"We need a breathing treatment in 210," the man said, and rushed past the students as though they didn't exist. Mr. Yankshire noticed his name tag said Dr. Brown. Mr. Yankshire turned and peered into the window. He noticed the RT was still be talking, but could not be heard.
"Yeah, he is a prick," an elderly lady in scrubs grumbled as she walked up to the RT window. "That Rick Frea is a prick. All respiratory therapists are pricks." She pressed the button by the intercom; it clicks. The light turns from red to green.
The respiratory therapist could be heard again: "...and the old IPPB machine was used on that old show "Emergency" back in the 1960s as a vent. Funny thing is, we used that machine as a vent up until, oh, I'd say about 2000."
"Will you shut your lazy crank!" The nurse grumbled.
"Well, hey, nurse Ratchet." The Rt gave a friendly smile and waved at the nurse.
"Dr. Brown wants a treatment in 210," said the nurse.
"Does he wasn't Scrubblin-Bubblin Ventolin or Preventolin Ventolin."
"How the hell am I supposed to know."
"Scrubblin-Bubblin it is." The RT reached up and pulled a cord. A click and a mist was heard down the hall. Mr. Yankshire looked down the hall and could see a mist coming from one of the rooms.
"That must be 206," Mr. Yankshire said. "You can see the mist from here, students."
"Ah, what a great career this is," said Rick Frea. His smiled radiated cheek to cheek. "You guys definitely should invest two years to become this." He leaned his head back and pulled a lever on the side of the chair so his feet are now up. "This is the life."
Roger figured Nurse Ratchet wasn't her real name, but the old nurse turned to look at the students. Her large lips were turned down; she was tapping her foot. The students stepped back until they were against the wall. "RTs are useless dummies. They aren't needed here unless there is an emergency, hence the writing on the window."
Mr. Yankshire watched as the kids eye's rotated from the cranky nurse's eyes to the window, which read "In case of emergency break glass."
"Damn RTs!" A young lady in scrubs rampaged from what seemed like mid-air, shoved Mr. Yankshire aside, grabbed the hammer, and threw it into the glass, which shattered into a million pieces inside the RT cave.
"Oh come on! What NOW!" he grumbled as he stumbled out of the chair, shards of glass falling onto the floor as he did so.
The young lady said, "We need you STAT in 210. You're treatment didn't do any good. The wet rhales persist."
The RT crunched his way across the pieces of glass and clambered through the window. "Some things never change." He sighed, and calmly sauntered to his emergency. "Some things never change."