07 August 2005

The Blink of An Eye

If you've been reading a while, you know I love my job.
When we are called out, I am one of the most important people in the world to the people that need my services.
Time can be more valuable than gold..........

The call came in a little after 4 A.M. on a Saturday morning.
We were dispatched on a 5 minute flight to the scene of an accident: car Vs. fuel tanker.

The car was a Station Wagon. The driver was a man with his entire family on board.........wife and 8 kids. The family was on its' way to spend the day fishing with extended family at a lake located about 3 hours away.

Papa had apparently fallen asleep and didn't see the red light and the 5000 gallon tanker in the intersection. He had driven under the tanker, and before the truck driver could bring his rig to a stop, the rear wheels of the tanker had climbed the car and had Papa trapped inside. The accident ripped a hole in the tanker, and it was leaking kerosene all over the scene, including Papa.

By chance, the scene was adjacent to a company that sold steel in huge, heavy rolls, and they had a large forklift available. As we took off, our dispatch called and said the folks on the scene were asking if we wanted the forklift operator to lift the tanker off the car. My nurse vetoed that idea.....she wanted to assess the situation to insure they didn't do further harm to the patient.

I landed in the center of six lanes of highway, about 150' from the collision, the smell of kerosene so heavy in the early morning air it burned my eyes. Flight Nurse and Paramedic gathered their gear and quickly moved to the scene while I secured the controls and got out to make sure passersby didn't walk into the tail rotor of the Bell LongRanger we were flying at the time.

My Flight Nurse stepped over fishing gear spread all over the highway and climbed into the car with Papa as the other scene workers tried to redirect a stream of kerosene away from her so she could start an Intraveinous line on him.

The weight of the tanker had collapsed the firewall and dashboard of the car on our patient.

15 minutes on the scene and he was extricated. He was crushed from his waist to his upper thighs.

We loaded him and took off on the 5 minute flight to the Trauma Center. My crew had their hands full, so I made the call to the hospital to give them our ETA and a quick overview of what we were bringing them.

I landed and assisted taking the patient out of the helicopter.
As they wheeled him to the elevator they left behind a solid trail of blood.

Then I looked at the helicopter...........
Along the left side of the aircraft we had a new, 2-inch red stripe starting at the lower right corner of the litter door, arcing up the rear of the fuselage, then horizontally along the tail cone and through the tail rotor! All this in just 5 minutes flight time!

Blood is corrosive.........I found a hose and rinsed off as much of it as I could.

We then went back twice to the hospital closest to the accident scene to pick up kids that had been ejected from the car.

And although Papa was taken directly to the Operating Room from the helipad, his injuries and blood loss were too great.........he didn't make it.

The kids were seriously injured, but survived.

I've said this before and I'll say this again many times:
Life can be short. Don't sweat the small stuff!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow. Amazing story. Thanks for sharing it. I'm really glad the kids lived. Part of me didn't want to know how that turned out. 8 kids ...