The plow had been a god-send for the trip, but even with the plow’s assistance, they were having difficulty. Caleb was starting to get highway hypnosis from following the back end of the plow and the constant swirl of snow. Brian was doing his best to keep Caleb on the road, but it was obvious when they were drifting out of the path that had been cleared as they started into 18 inches of snow that was more than four feet deep in drifts.
Brian strained to see a milepost along the side of the road but couldn’t see anything but snow. Finally he was able to make out the sign for the Story City exit. They were about 20 miles from Ames. He called 911 again to advise them of their location.
It wasn’t until they tried to talk to Shawn that they realized he was non-responsive. He
was breathing regularly and his pulse was steady, but he was not responding. The ED doctor that he was speaking with let out a huge sigh and Bryan held his breath.
“Bryan, I know you have been fighting this storm to get him here but we could just try to
stabilize him enough to get him to Des Moines. If you can get him to Iowa Methodist, that would be the thing that could happen. They are a level 1 trauma center and best suited to handle his situation. I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but you need to know. If he’s now comatose, he will likely be in this state for at least a few days if not a few weeks.”
Bryan nodded before realizing that the doctor couldn’t hear a nod.
“Yes sir. Thank you doctor. I’ll let the plow and police escort know that we are needing to head to Iowa Methodist in Des Moines.”
“Thank you for the confirmation of the instructions. Mary Greeley out.” the doctor said and the line went dead.
Bryan punched in the number for the officer that was following them.
When they answered, Bryan told him that there was a change in plans. Shawn had become comatose in the last hour and they were being directed to Iowa Methodist in Des Moines.
“Ames told us that he needs to be there…”
Officer Jackson finished the sentence, “as they are a level 1 trauma center. Understood. I’ll let the DOT know and see if we can get another plow out here. Our guy has to be exhausted after 45 miles of this.”
“Yeah, Caleb’s fighting the snow too. He’s getting some highway hypnosis.”
Officer Jackson thought for a moment. He muted his phone and picked up the state police radio and patched through to Iowa Methodist. They all needed a break, even if it was just five minutes to stop staring at the snow and to move around. He was having the same problems following behind them.
He picked up another radio and smashed a button, “How you holding up 283?”
“Goddamnit, fucking hell. You scared the shit outta me. I’m beyond ready to park
this truck. What’s the latest?”
“You aren’t gonna like it. Get another truck out here from Ames. The guy’s comatose
and Ames waved him to Des Moines. I’m gonna see if I can get a trooper out here to escort. I’m three counties out of my jurisdiction.”
“Dispatch, this is 283. Can you get another unit or two out here on 35. We’re southbound just outside of Story City. We came on at US 20 and we are exhausted. I’ve got a comatose transport behind me that needs to get to Des Moines, Iowa Methodist specifically. He’s a Level 1 head trauma.”
“283, stand by.”
The dispatcher didn’t release the mic soon enough to keep the stream of expletives
from flying over the air.
A couple of minutes later, the dispatcher returned, “We’ve had all plows pulled in our
district for a few hours now. We’ve got one unit on standby here. We’ll call in reserves. 145 will meet you at Story City. Let your escort know that you will be exiting there and that 145 will lead up the ramp. We’ll get you a hotel book before you get there if there’s
any place available.”
“Understood. How’s the weather towards Des Moines?”
The dispatcher let out a laugh, “You don’t want to know.” there was a pause where
the sounds of typing carried, “Well, visibility is 10+ miles and it’s 39F with a stiff wind from the southwest at 28mph.”
Officer Jackson let out a laugh, “Fucking Iowa weather.”
The dispatcher continued, “If you can make it to Ames, the snow drops dramatically
from there. Let us know if you want a swap in Story or if you want to make a break for it. Over.”
“This is 283. You said it’s better by Ames? Hell, we’re 10 miles from Ames. We’re
going to Des Moines. Can you let State Patrol know that I’m going through to Iowa Methodist? I don’t care about rules. I’m going right to their front door.”
“283, copy. It’s not authorized but I can’t stop you. Rather, I wouldn’t try.”
“283 out and Des Moines bound.”
Officer Jackson picked up his radio, “283.”
“On behalf of Humboldt County Sheriffs, we would like to extend a thank you and I
want to buy you a meal when we get to Des Moines.”
“Humboldt County Dispatch to Jackson and DOT 283.” came another voice on the radio.
“Humboldt Dispatch would like to second the thanks and appreciation for your service
tonight. Jackson, find a good restaurant and expense it. Sheriff’s orders.”
“Dispatch, roger wilco.” came the laughing response.
Meanwhile, the mile were still ticking by and Bryan was waiting anxiously.
– Click – “Bryan? You still here.”
“I am officer, go ahead.”
“Sorry about that. Weather is markedly improved by Ames. The plow
is taking us all the way. 36 miles to go.”