Friday, June 4, 2010

Small Towns, Part 2

So again, it’s a holiday weekend. A good part of our active members are out in the next town on parade duty and we have light resources in town. I have the ambulance parked in my driveway, and a partner at his house ready to respond. I just have a feeling the weekend isn’t ‘over’ yet. So here, the previous post continues….
My instincts (ok, lucky guess) was correct and we did get a slightly out of the ordinary call and although dispatch gave us terrible information which sent me in the wrong direction, I was still first on scene and after a quick size-up, called in a second alarm for more manpower and the Rescue with a stokes basket. The Chief heard the traffic and turned out for the call and added a request for our six wheeler. That turned out to be a great idea. We had a patient who had slipped while fishing and possibly dislocated his knee about a half mile from the road. It was a long rough walk in, and we had to cut a path with a chainsaw to get out. Each of the 10 people we had in there was needed, plus Fire Police controlling traffic out on the road. We got so turned around that I called on the radio and asked the ‘road crew’ to sound a siren so we could check our direction of travel. All well and we had him out quickly and even had the patient laughing as we picked our way through the woods. Now if I can overcome the humiliation of falling ON the patient as I approached him, it will be a good memory. I had approached him from behind, asked him if his name was ‘Fred’, and he replied “yup, that’s me, the dude that broke his leg, just when the fishing started to pick up”. I knew we had an airway and an oriented, calm patient. So I put the gear bags down, observed his position partially in the water with his right leg bent and it appeared he had an odd protrusion of the knee. His partner had placed a tackle box under his head for support and I reminded myself NOT to step over him, but walk around. As I did this I stepped on the little edge of pond scum that the water always laps onto the shore. I went down like a sack of potatoes and the next thing I knew, I was laying perpendicular to my newest patient and possibly about to experience as much pain as he was. We were both laying on a flat, clean rock perhaps 12 feet by 30 feet long. We call it ‘ledge rock’ around here. I landed on my left hip… hard. But worse, I touched Fred on the way down. At that point I had not even asked him which leg was damaged so I tried, in the three milliseconds that I spent falling, to miss him. I succeeded to a point, but I did touch his ‘good leg’ and moved it. His good leg supported his bad leg, so they both moved. I immediately looked at his eyes when I hit the rock and could see that I had done him no good at the same moment I had a flashing thought that I had really screwed myself up because my ears were ringing and sounds got fuzzy for a second. He confessed that it hurt ‘a bit more than he was hoping for now’. Then he asked if I was ok and I felt really stupid. “Hell No!” I was thinking, but I just apologized to him and said I was fine.
Because of the long rough walk in, we thought that bringing him out via a water route might be a lot easier on Fred so we called to check on a police boat. They said “15 minutes”. After 20 minutes in the hot sun with no boat in sight, our six-wheeler showed up with the stokes. We re-thought our situation and packaged the patient and chose the land route out because the water was too shallow to bring the boat in close enough and we would have to wade out into water about 3 feet deep. The chances of slipping and dropping our patient were too great. We carried the stokes 100 feet to the six wheeler, loaded it, and then walked the six wheeler out as we cut a clear path with a chainsaw. We got out to the road, transferred to patient to the stretcher, and I turned the call over to our other ambulance (which had left in the middle of a parade to give us a hand). I took stock of myself. I looked like hell; my duty pants were covered in pond scum, I was soaked in sweat, my back hurt, my hip was throbbing, and I walked ‘funny’. I figured I’d get the rig back in quarters and get home for a shower before anybody noticed that I was walking like an old rodeo rider. Mission accomplished, nobody at the station noticed that I had a spasm in my hip when I tried to climb into my truck and almost doubled over in pain.
Just in case you think I am suggesting that an Officer hide an injury, let me assure you it’s not that at all. You see, I am an Old Guy and anything these ‘kids’ see that makes me look like I can’t do the job anymore. I love the job and when I hot my limit, I have no problem grabbing ‘a kid’ and putting him in my place to get it done. But in the meantime, I just want to keep plugging along doing what I can.
I got my shower and decided I was ‘done for the day’ and put on shorts and sandals. My crew called me on the way home from the hospital to let me know they were back in service, but had stopped for an MVA they witnessed to offer aid and called in to dispatch. The regular duty crew goes on shift in about an hour. All in all, not a bad holiday weekend… considering what it could have been. (Just for the record, 2 days later my hip was back to normal and the patient suffered no ill effects from my fall.)

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