Before the ambulance stopped, the Yakobi256 burst out of the back, and Keith had to jump to keep up with his end of the gurney.
The robot reached the side of the car and worked his metal fingers under the edge. “I’m going to take care of you, sir.” The Yakobi pried the door open. “What’s your name?”
“Ken. Ken Lassiter.”
“Nice to meet you, Mr. Lassiter.” He fit the neck brace on and secured it.
“Are you in pain?”
“Okay. I’ve got you, Mr. Lassiter. Was anyone else in the car?”
Keith winced at the sight of Ken’s twisted leg, the bones undoubtedly broken.
With quick movements, the robot secured Ken’s leg with a splint.
Keith finally became useful by helping the robot put him onto the gurney. By the time Barry, the ambulance driver, got to them, they were ready to load.
The efficiency of the Yakobi line, specialized for EMTs, barely gave Keith the chance to interact with the patients. Only the regulation to have a human being present to override any bad decisions kept Keith’s job secure. He wondered how long that would last.
Keith had to admit, the robots cut the time to treat patients and get them to a hospital down to a third of what it was without them.
The next call was a bad one. A factory fire where the roof caved in. The Kawasakis, contracted and specialized for rescue, pulled out victim after victim, horribly burned, crushed, lacerated, and punctured.
The Yakobis triaged them with instantaneous decisions, Keith and the other EMTs following their lead. The carnage visibly shook the human EMTs, especially when the Kawasakis pulled a group of touring high school students from the wreckage, but the unfazed and unflappable Yakobis kept on with ruthless efficiency. Keith was grateful to have them.
When the last ambulance left the hospital, Keith was spent. Nearly unable to function, his shift ended, and he gathered his brothers-in-arms for the pub. The Yakobis set up for the next shift, ever ready, never stopping, except for occasional maintenance.
Barry paid for the first round of pitchers. “Thank God for the Yakobis.”
“And the Kawasakis,” said Harlan, the least shaken of them.
“How many you figure they saved?” Barry gulped down half his mug.
Keith filled his own. “The Yakobis, at least half a dozen. Who knows about the Kawasakis.”
Harlan drained his mug and refilled. “I’m not sure how much longer we’ll be doing this.”
“I hear you,” said Keith.
A waitress dropped two plates of nachos in front of them and spun away.
“No,” said Harlan. “I mean they’re reworking the regs to put two Yaks per ambo, sometimes three.” He grabbed the nacho with the biggest hunk of hamburger on it. “They may require only one man per scene.”
“It was only a matter of time,” said Barry.
“It’s overkill,” said Harlan. “Don’t get me wrong, they have obvious value, but they’re going to put them beyond their limits.”
“Why aren’t you at the hearings, then?” asked Barry.
Harlan flicked an olive at him. “I was. That’s why I know about it, dipshit.”
Barry pulled the olive off his shirt and set it on a napkin.
“Hopefully we’ll see it coming and be able to adjust,” said Keith.
Keith left after the second round since he had early shift the next day. A fitful night of sleep left him exhausted, but he dragged himself to work.
The first call was a weird one. An explosion at a data center, some semi-secret facility, and sabotage was suspected. Keith was first ambo on the scene. There weren’t many people in the place, and everyone that came out was uninjured, but they didn’t know if anyone was still inside.
Keith and his Yakobi256 followed Kawasakis through hallways into a devastated office area, the roof caved in on one side. The Yakobi continued on as the Kawasakis pulled up debris. The next room was the data center, big double doors hanging off their hinges.
The Yakobi pulled them back and secured them. Keith followed the robot inside. Racks of servers had been blasted off their bases, the casings smashed and mangled. Fragments of circuit boards and wires scattered everywhere, blue Ethernet cables tangled through everything. Toward the destroyed office were mainframes, one toppled on its side, another with a cracked case, pieces of metal and silicon spilling out. A third was completely torn to pieces in a trail toward the offices.
Keith scanned the room and picked his way around the jumbled racks, then realized the Yakobi wasn’t in front of him like usual. He turned back toward the entrance to see it still standing by the doors.
The robot collapsed to its knees. It was more than it could take. It completely shut down.