When the bell dings for VITAL SIGNS I notice there is a new zombie in our line. She is a short middle-aged woman with sweatpants and a bulky gray sweatshirt. The left half of her face is wine-purple and her left eye is fiery red. It looks like she’s been split down the middle by a lightning bolt from Zeus and turned into a mythological creature that’s half-human, half-corpse.
She looks like the dead crash victims we would take to the morgue when I worked in EMS. Sometimes an ER nurse would go with us and we would have to draw blood for toxicology:
You put your two fingers on the chest and walk them over toward the left shoulder, letting your fingertips trace along the smooth ridge of the rib.
You take a very long needle on a syringe, just like in the movie Pulp Fiction, and stick it straight down in the chest, deep down into where no needle, no penetrating metal of any kind should go–into the heart.
You pull back until fresh blood is sucked up into the syringe’s vacuum, and you take that and label and bag it carefully because it’s often critical evidence.
The body you just leave.