Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Grey Fox, In a Nutshell

 Well, first I have to apologize for not posting from the festival as I had hoped. The wireless connection did not work for the first day or so and by the time it got fixed, I was into full festival mode and didn't have much time available. I took only a few quick pictures, but this might give you and idea of the site size.
 What you see here is a shot from the main amphitheater looking out over the camping area. That large tent on the right is a shade tent so you can watch the main stage (off to the left) while staying out of the sun. The large tent in the middle is a food concession tent, and beyond is the camping area.
 Here's a shot of the main stage taken in the early morning before anybody is up and about:

Off on the left side you will see a large tent where they feed the staff and the entertainers. The Green Room is also over there on he left.
 First let me start out by saying that on this particular weekend I collected several memories that will last me into the nursing home phase of my life, and I don't say that flippantly, I had a sore jaw from smiling so hard for so long.
 As it goes with these things, it started off slow. At the initial briefing I could see we had an ample staff, many returning from last year and some new faces. Many were from the clinical side of the health care business and I knew that the tent would be well staffed, but I also knew we wouldn't have a lot who would easily go out roaming and looking for problems or patients, which is what I prefer to do. Clinical folks like to stay in the Clinic, EMS folks like to be out on post. My partner from last year was doing an overnight and we wouldn't be working together much this year, so I found a FNG and we walked around as I gave him a tour, explained what to look for (folks doing dumb stuff) and some of the tricks (you can sit in the VIP section while you are walking around) and how to scout for the good parties to return to after the duty period. He learned fast and when my daughter arrived I left him to his own desires. I was looking forward to spending some time with my little girl who was also volunteering this year with the drink stand crew. Since she's been married we haven't had much time together. Little did I know we would wind up just having a blast together.
 Medically speaking we saw just what I had predicted in a prior post. Each night we had one or two hopelessly drunk folks that required some attention because they were puking too much, dehydrated, or unable to ambulate. In one case we arranged a transport for an old gent that was incontinent after ingesting a lot of alcohol and THEN deciding to try some pot after 20 years of abstention.  He did some puking too. OK, a lot of puking, and all that stuff combined with his meds to wreak havoc with his system.
 My turn on the overnight looked to be quiet even though it was Saturday night (the last night to party) We had buttoned up the Medical tent and I was just settled into my chiar to doze when a guy came in all frantic stating that "We CAN'T wake her up, we don't know what's wrong, it looks REALLY BAD!" I poked my head out back and told the boss we had a worker. He came out an asked a few quick questions while I and my partner collected the bags and loaded the golf cart (the preferred mode of transport in dense population areas). The 4 of us got off in the cart and were moving as fast as we could follow directions, part the crowd, and see where we were going. I was riding backwards and was trying to don my gloves as we flew over the hillocks in the hayfield that was now home to about 6,000 people. We arrived and found our patient in a tent which was filled with a full sized air mattress. This was a new sensation for me, like working on a waterbed. The Boss went in first with my partner and realized all at once that a) this patient was critical, b) this patient was a friend of his, and c) we needed ALS right away. He crawled out and gave me the nod as we switched places, he went into ICS mode, calling security to get a rig on the road and giving a quick Sit Rep. My partner and I worked on the basics: Breathing adequate but shallow, pulse 126, b/p of 135/88, posturing, possibly post-dictal, jaw clenched HARD, blood residue on the cheek, possibly bit her tongue, and she had paticial hemorrhaging, which we took to indicate a possible brain bleed. All in all, things didn't look good. We could not get a med list from her drunken husband, but we knew that there was a list somewhere. What made us really concerned was that we were repeatedly assured that she had no been consuming and alcohol or drugs. She was very health conscious and did not drink. It took 2 of us to do a B/P, one to hold the arm straight and the other to take it. Her arms would fold right up when we let them go. ALS arrived, we extracted her on a long board and we loaded quickly.
 Turns out she had hyponatremia (look it up, you should KNOW this) and was in a coma. In her efforts to avoid dehydration, she had hydrated herself right into a seizure and coma. First time I have ever seen that. 48 hours on I got word that she had come out of the coma and was expected to make a full recovery with no neurological deficits.
 After I went 'off duty' at 0700 we were headed back down the hill form breakfast when a call came over the radio for a male, unconscious, at the main gate. We were already mobile, so we took the call. He had had a seizure and was incontinent to bladder and bowel. He was embarrassed and denied any LOC, but the witnesses said that he was out for a full minute. He had a lump on his head where he hit the side mirror on his car (and broke it clean off) but wanted to RMA (AMA). It took us a half hour to convince him to go in, but we finally succeeded,
 All in all a fantastic weekend with wonderful music and people. I got to have dinner one night with a Bluegrass legend (look for a future post on this, funny story) and build on our friendship. I had some priceless time hanging out with my little girl and my son-in-law, and I witnessed some events that I will remember for a long time. As a bonus (as if I needed one), my Bluegrass legend friend has offered to take me on as a personal challenge to teach me how to play the 5 string. He offered me 4 or 5 hours of his time and promises he will have me playing the darned thing before he is done with me. Now I LOVE this man and have listened to his music since I was a kid. There are thousands of people around the world who would give anything to have just one hour with this guy. I fully understand what has been offered me. But on the other hand I realize that after 32 years of varying attempts, I couldn't carry a tune with a wheelbarrow. I told him as much, but he seemed resolved. I also told him that if I were the one to break him and he failed, I would feel terrible. He seems unconcerned and has high hopes. I warned him. My daughter tells me that my son-in-law kind of set this whole thing up because he wants me to play with him. She says I'd be a fool to let it go by. Smart girl. OK, I'll play along. Even if I come out as the same idiot as I went in, I will still have spent a few more hours with someone who changed the course of Bluegrass music and I both admire and am amazed by.
 Here's a shot of Bill giving a workshop on Friday. He does one on Saturday also and a stint on the Master's Stage as well. Bill is around 73 and it still amazes me to see him light up when he sits down and begins to share what he has learned. 

 I returned home from the festival, took a shower and got a 4 hour nap (having only an hour of sleep in the past 36 hours. I was on duty with my Squad on Sunday night and hoped for a light night. The EMS Gods were against me. I went to bed at 2300 for the night and the pager went off at 0000. We had a fire on the mountain that kept us out until 0530. Normally fires are easy duty for EMS, but I was assigned as the EMT to stay with the crew on the fire. We had 800 feet of near vertical climb to get to the seat of the fire. It was so steep that we went up on hands and knees, clawing all the way. You could not stand, nor could you sit. you would either slide or fall down. Three quarters of the way up. when I got to a point that I could keep an ear on the crew, I dug in. Somebody needed to hold onto the hose to keep it from sliding back down the mountain. I dug out a seat belay and settled in for about three hours and helping relief folks climb up the hose line, watching fire progression (below us, above us, and to the west of us).
 When we finished up, I had enough time to grab a shower before heading into the paying job, where by the way, I was a little useless during the day. Somehow I figured out that I had gone 60 something hours with only 5 hours sleep.
 So now you have an idea of why I haven't posted in a week. Aren't you sorry you asked? I should have been working on my pick rolls tonight, but instead I thought I should get this one up for you. Also, for Linda, I got your message and I understand how life changes direction. We'll get it together, just a little further down the road. Right now I just need some recovery time. Oh BOY do I need to recover.
Be Safe, B Sharp,


  1. Glad you had a great time- even though that last bit on the mountain sounds killer.
    And I agree with your daughter and son-in-law and hope you have a great time learning, whatever the outcome.
    Grassroots starts up this morning, heat warnings and all. I have a feeling it's going to be an interesting weekend. Some new folks on the crew this year, and missing a lot of the regulars.
    And I'll go bone up on hyponatremia. Thanks.

  2. We need a picker for The Campfire Tour! Nice post, sounds like a crazy time.

  3. Oh, confession time, i had no idea what hyponatremia was.

  4. Michael, I have to tell you and everyone else that although I knew what Hyponatermia was and had read up on the symptoms years ago, I did not recognize it or even guess at it. I certainly did not even remember the condition. The thing was, as you can imagine, in a world of folks partying on all kinds of stuff, the last thing we would have thought of was TOO MUCH WATER.
    We had over 30 years of Wilderness Medicine experience on that crew and nobody made that guess. Frankly, we were all concerned with the "unconscious-unresponsive" issue. You know the drill. 5 minutes from our BLS arrival until an ALS transport.
    As for the Campfire tour: I am good at drinking beer, chatting, singing, and laughing. When it comes to playing, you really want me as a listener. Check back with me in a couple of years. Right now I'm just practicing rolls and trying to find all the strings in the desired order. I suck.
    Thanks for checking in.