Another Victim of Government Cuts

That Friday no one had expected it. If there was any indication of a history changing event in the making, it was the Premiers address to the Taxpayers Coalition. He was to announce the fulfilment of what many had said to be an exaggerated election promise, the cutting of taxes along with a slash and burn campaign to balance the budget by achieving a zero deficit by the end of his term in office. The delegates had gathered in the east wing of the ski resort at an undisclosed location, it was originally to have been held in a more urban location but the nature of the Premiers speech was drawing a great deal of attention and protest from the opposition as well as from social activists right across the political spectrum. The decision to move the location of the venue has been the premiers own, although rumor had it that there had been some bomb threats made to the property manager of the previous location, threats that were said to have been taken very seriously by police. The Premier stated to the media that he wanted the change in location to reflect the environment of 'Real Ontarian's', as one Toronto Sun columnist put it 'he didn't want a big city get together to avoid the mobs that would have been there to oppose him, he wanted a small town get together like the town hall meetings he'd had right across the province during his election campaign. Ironically this turn of events may have sealed the premiers fate that Friday.

The crowd of about 30 conservative supporters sat patiently awaiting the Premiers speech. The Premier fiddled with the microphone and was just about to speak, when feedback filled the room with a loud 'screeching' sound.

"Uh...Uh..." The premier muttered as he checked the microphone again.

Then suddenly just as the premier was about to speak, 3 gunshots echoed and reverberated throughout the room. People panicked and went running everywhere, as the premier slumped over the podium, then hit the ground, apparently struck during the shooting.

The premier lay in a pool of blood beside the podium at the foot of the stage.

"Uh...Uh..." He was mumbling over and over to himself, as if trying to speak.

"That's okay Johnny we've got emergency crews on the way, just stay beside the premier it looks like he's going into shock" Johnny one of the security detail was holding the premiers head in his lap and trying to comfort him and keep him conscious. Security people,

party officials and other delegates were still running around in a panic.

"Has anybody got the shooter" one was heard yelling...

"They shot the premier, they shot him !" another delegate screamed.

Jerry one of the premiers personal staff came running towards the scene "I've found a doctor, quick every one aside !" At this point a gathering of 6 or 7 people has accumulated around the spot where the premier lay in a pool of his own blood, while muttering "Uh...Uh..." still , over and over like some fatalistic mantra.

"Who are you ?" Johnny asked " I hope you're a conservative" he added,

The doctors response was cool and unemotional "Actually according to your politics you'd probably say I'm about as far left on the political scale as you could go without actually being a communist. . . But I did take the Hippocratic oath you know !"

"This is no good !" Johnny retorted, "Can't we find a real doctor ? " he screamed out to the mob of people all by this time quickly making their way for the exits.

" Well I don't care what you think sir" the doctor firmly broke in "I'm a doctor and I will do my job whether you like it or not !" the doctor reached over to pull the bloodied shirt and tie

From the premiers chest so as to be better able to address the injuries.

"Security, arrest that man" Johnny screamed, waving his pointed finger fanatically at the doctor..

" John have you lost your mind ?" Jerry intervened shoving Johnny aside and getting between Johnny and the doctor

" never mind, it seems Johnny here has suffered a bit of shock here as well" Jerry says to the approaching security detail

" but he said he's a communist !" Johnny insists

" Shut up !" Jerry demands " He's a doctor ! That's all that counts okay ! I don't care if he's Nikita Khrushcev himself, He's a f**king Doctor !, now get the hell out of here before you end up causing problems...go see if the ambulance is here yet "

Johnny humbly walks away towards one of the exits in search of the emergency crews. The room is now empty of delegates, and with only a few security detail around the only one left heard speaking amongst the ruckus is the premier's "Uh...Uh..." as he lyes there in a pool of his own blood with only the doctor and Jerry his closest advisor now hovering over him.

"Where the hell are the emergency crews" Jerry asks, with a worried expression on his face

"Well at this point I would have to assume you've never been to this part of the province before" the doctor retorted

"What's that supposed to mean" Jerry asks, looking even more worried now

"I've had my own practice out here since back in '82, things were good back then out here you never got knifings, shootings well okay a few hunting accidents but nothing like those killings back in '93, nothing like this !"

"What the hell are you babbling about, are they coming or what ? How long will it be ?"

Jerry, really panicky now, looks at the doctors own composure as he finishes removing the bloodied garments and throws them aside all the while the premiers muttering "Uh...Uh..." is still audible. Jerry thinking now of his reprimand of Johnny moments earlier acknowledges his own loss of temper and feels an apology is in order

"I'm sorry doc. I'm just not used to this sort of thing, is there anything I can do to help ?

"You can pray the emergency services are on route, I have to get this man to a hospital before he bleeds to death" The doctor says, before continuing his diatribe

" Back when this government began cutting funding to municipalities and health care there were some very crucial decisions made both at the provincial and municipal levels of government, the Hospital in town for instance was a victim of this governments cuts. I used to do my residency there as well and as work there 2-3 days a week until all the cuts"

"I'm sure by now you know that we are merely redirecting the funds to provide better services overall for the public and create less waste in health care spending" Jerry replied smugly with the party line commonly heard in the media after all Jerry had hired the P.R. firm that put the spin on their health care agenda and was mainly responsible for the parties press releases.

"Anyway..." Jerry went on "I drove past that hospital on the way up here it can't be more than 10 min. down Hwy.15 from here, do you think we could move him safely out the rear exit..." Jerry all enthusiastic now reaches in his pocket and pulls out his cell phone,

"I'll call the driver around back, his limo's out front right now..."

"Put the phone away sir" the doctor replied,

"Why ?" Jerry clips his phone shut, "isn't it safe to move him, or do you actually still have faith in our emergency services arriving" Jerry smiling smugly again as if he'd just made some cunning remark.

"It won't do you no good to take him to that hospital" replied the doctor

"You know sometimes I can't believe the arrogance some of you people exhibit even in the face of such a crisis" the doctor continued as he held the premiers arm with one hand taking his pulse and kept glancing at his watch on the other.

"Well if the ambulance doesn't show up, if we can get him to the limo..." Jerry was interrupted.

"Well what, you're going to drive him over 40 miles to Algonquin ?" the doctor asked

"Why won't they have the necessary facilities at, at..." Jerry pausing for a name

"Mount Hope" the doctor answered

"That's right" Jerry continued all smug again "that little hospital in town, Mount Hope"

The doctor places the premiers arm back down and looks disapprovingly at his watch shaking his head back and forth at the watch first and then when glancing up again at Jerry

"They don't have any facilities at all ! They merged with Algonquin last year thanks to your governments health care restructuring" the doctor quickly glances at Premier "All you'll find at Mount Hope is a bunch of empty beds, they've been closed over 6 months now, all the remaining staff and equipment went to Algonquin"

Jerry's face went pale, all that could be were the premiers murmurs "Uh...Uh..." now growing more and more faint, before Jerry could reply the doctor went on...

"If this was 5 years ago we'd almost be at the hospital by now, we had 4 ambulances in town back then, soon as I was at a hospital, either myself or another doctor could easily revive his vital signs, stop the bleeding and get him a quick transfusion, Hell, we could have done half of that in the ambulance if the municipalities didn't have to get rid of all our paramedics staff as well becasuse your government cut their funding "

Jerry stunned by this sudden revelation is no longer smug towards the doctor . Jerry at this point with a look of complete hopelessness humbly asks the doctor again

"So... Doc., when can we expect an ambulance to arrive to take him to Algonquin hospital then...?"

"Well for something of this nature the emergency services would naturally send the air ambulance, I'm assuming you called 911 ?" the doctor asks

"I think everyone in here has called them twice I know I have !" Jerry nervously replies

"Uh..." The doctor continues, "there's only one thing..."

"What now ?" Jerry rapidly losing his patience

"Did you hear about those kids and the snowmobile on the news this morning ?"

Asks the doctor

"We didn't get into town until early afternoon, anyway what kids, what snowmobile ? What the hell does it have to do with this ?" Jerry says , his appearance growing angrier now

"Well, if you would listen to me then you'd understand !" The doctor now apparently starting to lose patience with Jerry ... " about 10 o'clock this morning a couple of kids were involved in a major snowmobile accident a few miles north of here, as a result one of the two kids injured needed to be airlifted to Sick Kids which is down in Toronto, about 2 hours by air even from here..."

Jerry rudely interrupting " Your point is..."

"I'm getting to that," The doctor now completely fed up " to make a long story short as you obviously don't have the necessary attention span required to digest what I'm saying, the fact of the matter is we don't have 3 helicopters to service the region anymore, your cutbacks made sure of that, we have one ! And as I was trying to explain it's currently en-route to Toronto with a seriously injured teenage boy who is going to need major surgery if he expects to live !"

Jerry's face went pale again, this time it appeared as if his hands were shaking.

"I'm sorry, if we could've got him to Mount Hope like in the old days we could have had him stabilized by now, I'm sorry sir... there's not much we can do for him now, the air ambulance is still at least a good hour or two away..." A tear could be seen forming in Jerry's eye, the only sound that could be heard left in the room was the now almost incoherent mumbling of the premier's "Uh...Uh..." the premier then gasped for his breath, it was as if he had heard the whole conversation between the Jerry and the doctor and was trying to respond " Uh...Uh..." was all he said before he then slumped back in silence.

Dave Parkinson 1998