CREDOS: Pull over! — II

Below, a Ford two-door was stopped against a tree at the edge of the wood, partly hidden by hanging pine branches. The motor was silent, lights dead. I hope no one’s in there. Not in this cold. I got closer and shined my flashlight in the passenger window. My heart jumped. A woman was sprawled on her back across the front seat. I rapped on the glass. She didn’t move. I opened the door. The car was cold as an icebox, and the woman was breathing in quick, steamy gasps. She was groaning, holding her stomach with both hands. She was pregnant.

“Ma’am?” I said, shining the flashlight in her eyes, and she blinked at me with a panicked expression. “Help me,” she murmured. “I think I’m in labour.””You’ll be okay now. I’m going to run down to my car and come right back.” I stumbled up the icy hill to my cruiser and radioed for help. “Make it fast!” I said. I grabbed a blanket from the trunk and slid back down to the woman. I tried to remember everything I’d learned at the academy about emergency childbirth. “Stay calm,” I said, and wrapped the blanket around her. “Help is on the way.” Eventually I saw the red lights of the ambulance flashing from the highway and heard the paramedics get out. “Over here!” I called as they struggled downhill with the stretcher.The woman was barely conscious when they put her in the ambulance. I followed them to the hospital, then turned back toward town to finish my patrol. —