The grumpy crime scene tech finally arrives and climbs into the ambulance with a camera to document the injuries. He’s a middle-aged bald guy with a goatee and a belly, wearing a jumpsuit and a badge. In big yellow letters on his back it says; crime scene investigator. I see him often and we have a running joke. “Man, CSI Hood, I sure thought you’d be prettier.” He just growls at me. I guess he is in a bad mood.
Once the photos have been taken we start driving to the county hospital. The officer tells me he’s going to meet us there so he can finish taking a statement form Anika.
Now that we’re away from the crime scene and alone in the back of the ambulance the reality of the situation starts to sink into Anika. She’s a minor who’s dealing with some very adult problems. She’s emotionally unprepared for everything that’s happening around her and has no active parents or advocate. The system has let her down and she’s quickly falling through the cracks.
Scottie did most of my paperwork on the computer while we waited for the not so pretty CSI tech, so I spend the ride talking to Anika and trying to calm her down. But it’s not working.
I had initially planned to just do basic treatment and only give her an ice pack for the pain and swelling. Yet with her emotional state I decide to more aggressively treat the pain with some Morphine. It will help with the pain a little but even more important it will calm her down so she can make some rational decisions in the next few hours.
As the Morphine slowly drips into her vein I watch the waveform of her respirations change to reflect a more relaxed state. Now that she’s calm we can have a more productive conversation. I continue where the officer left off in pushing her to press charges. I give examples of things I’ve seen on the streets in the hopes that it leaves an impression. I have a special affinity for kids in the foster system. I know from personal experience what they are going through and how the deck is stacked against them.
The statistics are grim. According to a local foster advocacy organization, youth in foster care are 44% less likely to graduate from high school. Less than half of former foster youth are employed 2.5-4 years after leaving foster care, and only 38% have maintained employment for at least one year. Sixty percent (60%) of women who emancipate from foster care become parents within 2.5-4 years after exiting care. Girls in foster care are six times more likely to give birth before the age of 21 than the general population. Parents with a history of having been in foster care themselves are almost twice as likely as parents with no such history to see their own children placed in foster care or become homeless.
I don’t give Anika these statistics – she’s had a bad enough day as it is. Yet it’s all in the back of my mind as I talk to her on the way to the hospital. She really doesn’t deserve this.
She’s much more relaxed now that the Morphine has taken full effect. I can tell by the way it’s effecting her that she has a clean system. She had no track-marks or signs of drug use. I think she’s just a good kid in a bad situation. She starts to feel comfortable with me and talks about her life. She mentions that she was in the same hospital two weeks ago.
“Why were you there two weeks ago?” I already know the answer…
“I got beat up and thought my nose was broken.” She has a slight slur to her speech from the Morphine. I noticed the minor swelling to her nose but thought it was from today’s beating.
“Did you go in by ambulance?”
“No, my boyfriend took me on the bus.”
“Is he the one who hit you two weeks ago?” She just nods her head.