Stepping Stone

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The shrill sound of the rushing ambulance pierced the summer air. I hugged the blanket in my arms, stretching to see if the patient has arrived. The glass doors swished open and an entourage of paramedics rushed in. This time, it was an unconscious soldier, no older than 25, lying on the gurney, his camouflage uniform smeared in blood and dirt. Trying not to bump into anyone, I slipped between two burly paramedics and draped the blanket on him. The soldier along with a group of nurses, paramedics, and doctors then disappeared into the resuscitation area.

Meanwhile, I stood frozen outside the emergency room with the other volunteer. What happened to the soldier? Will he survive? Where is his family? A couple minutes later, the soldier was wheeled out to intensive care, an oxygen mask covering his face.

Although I was constantly told how important volunteers were in the hospital, I always felt helpless when I volunteered in the emergency room. Sure, handing out blankets to shivering patients, delivering medicine to the nurses, and giving people directions helped the hospitals and their staff and patients, but I wanted to do more. When the soldier was rushed into the resuscitation area, I wanted to do more than stand on the...

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