September 2000 Dr. James Elliot was waiting on the brilliantly sunny roof of Los Angeles Valley Hospital even before the chopper, carrying his eight-year-old Caucasian male victim of a fall from a seventh-floor window, landed on the helipad. When the doors opened, Elliot was the first to reach the gurney. He smiled reassuringly at the boy with the plastic collar clamped around his neck, before firing off a succession of questions at the paramedics who'd brought him in, all the while running alongside the gurney on its way to the Code Room. Once inside the Code Room, Elliot allowed Jeff Greenwood, a Second-Year resident, to take over the initial examination. Valley was a teaching hospital, after all. They were big on the learn-by-doing method. And all the residents rotating through the Pediatric Emergency Room were supposed to learn from Dr. Elliot. He may have been only forty-three years old, but in the eyes of the residents, he was the Grand Old Man of Pediatric Trauma Medicine. Elliot hypothesized that was because, before he showed up, no one actually believed something so specific should be a specialty. The medical establishment figured that what worked in Adult Trauma should function just as well with kids. And then they wondered why the mortality rate was so much greater among children. Creating a trauma unit especially for the under-eighteen contingent opened a lot of eyes, triggered a mountain of journal articles, and earned Elliot a nationwide reputation as the specialist in his field. Tongue firmly in cheek, Elliot told anyone who asked that his extensive experience was the reason for the "Old" in "Grand Old Man of Pediatric Trauma Medicine." It wasn't the gray he periodically noticed streaking his otherwise raven-black, curly hair. Because, save that, Elliot was in the same shape he'd been in college, when playing semipro hockey helped foot the medical-school bills. These days, however, he stuck to a set exercise schedule--mostly because of the physical demands of his profession. In Emergency Medicine, every second counted. When Elliot wasn't sprinting toward a patient, he was slicing a human chest open practically with his bare hands, or standing for hours, plugging bullet holes gushing from a drive-by shooting victim. If Elliot wasn't in perfect shape, his patients risked suffering for it. Just like the patients risked suffering when their attending physician was only a Second-Year resident, still wet behind the ears. That's why, when Jeff Greenwood, in his haste to check out the ABC's of elemental trauma--airway, breathing, circulation--overlooked the harsh scratchiness in the little boy's voice as just the result of hoarse crying, rather than a potential lung problem, Elliot stepped in. He called for an X ray, followed by blood gas. The numbers he got moments later from the lab confirmed his fears: a collapsed lung. With a twitch of his finger, Elliot signaled for the thoracotomy tray. He stretched on his surgical gloves, reached for the syringe of anesthetizing lidocaine, and inserted the needle between his patient's fourth and fifth ribs. Their boy had stopped crying. The collapsed lung was making it painfully impossible. He squirmed and struggled inside his restraints, but had yet to utter a word. That disturbed Elliot. Most kids would have been cursing him out quite colorfully by now. He liked it that way. Screaming kids were kids with the will to live. It was the quiet ones that made a Pediatric Trauma Surgeon's heart beat faster. Still, his immediate priority was the collapsed lung. Elliot asked for a scalpel, and made an incision beside the pinprick left by his needle. He stuck his finger into the hole to keep it open and prevent it from bleeding, then asked for the chest tube. Mouth slit in concentration, Elliot threaded the clear, plastic tube past his finger, into the surgical wound. He kept pushing until large, pink bubbles began burpAdams, Alina is the author of 'When a Man Loves a Woman' with ISBN 9780440235101 and ISBN 0440235103.