27 May 2007

From Exhaustion to Elation

Ted needed time off...
It's Memorial Day weekend, so it's nice to think he might spend it enjoying time with his bride and new baby. I agreed to work Friday and Saturday for him.
Friday unfolded normally... I had two flights, dodging a few area thunderstorms, and logged 1.9 hours of daytime in my logbook.

Saturday started similarly.
Thunderstorms in the area kept the BK117 in the hangar until the phone rang a little before 11 O'Clock-

"Can you check weather for a flight to *****?"
I checked. There were a few isolated cells around, but nothing we couldn't drive around.

We flew 15 minutes to pick up the 27 year old guy... trimming trees with his Dad, a 4 inch diameter branch had fallen on his head, knocking him down and out. We loaded him aboard the helicopter and flew another 12 minutes to the Trauma Center. After dropping off patient and crew, I flew to our downtown base to refuel and wait for my crew to call after finishing their paperwork.

But then the phone rang again.
"Can you take the Children's Hospital team to ******?"
Another weather check... more thunderstorms, but they were still pretty isolated.
"Yeah, I can do it. Call my crew and make arrangements to drive 'em back here."

Takeoff to landing at the Children's Hospital took 3 minutes. I loaded their stretcher aboard, insured the 3-person team, (Doctor, Nurse, and Paramedic) was safely situated aboard the aircraft, and gave them a safety briefing as we took off on the 60 minute flight to pick up a 2 year old girl in respiratory distress.

After landing and getting the team on the way to help the little girl,
I buttoned up the aircraft and flew 5 minutes to the local airport for enough fuel to make the flight back home, considering the possibility of having to dodge Thunderboomers along the way.


Hot refueling was quick, and kept me from having to log another expensive start on the BK...
Another 5 minute flight found me back at the hospital, waiting for the Children's team to finish their preparations to take the little girl to the city for the care she needed.

The 55 minute flight back was routine... a few showers served to clean the bugs off the windshield.

After dropping off the little girl and her caregivers, I returned to our downtown base and hot refueled, loaded my Nurse and Paramedic, and flew the 22 minute flight back to our remote base.

We didn't stay long. Thirty minutes later, the phone rang again...
"I need a weather check for a scene flight at ******."
"Okay, I can do that."
"Then your flight is a go, for a 19 year old male involved in an ATV accident."

We landed in the middle of a two-lane road 18 minutes later. The hard-headed 19 year old was not wearing a helmet when he crashed at something near 70 miles per hour, making mush of the back of his skull. I flew him to the Trauma Center, and by the time my crew was finished with all their legal responsibilities, I was earning overtime pay on the flight back home.
On my 12+ hour shift I logged 3.9 hours of flight time and 15 takeoffs and landings. I felt like I had been carrying the helicopter around on my back all day.

I popped an oldies CD in the player and called Sara Jean to let her know I was exhausted, but finally on my way home. We have a routine when I get home... I pull in the drive and shut off the ignition. Sara Jean opens the door and sends Lucy out to greet her "Pop". Then Lucy and I walk to the house together.

I drained my bladder and washed my hands. When I turned to walk out of the bathroom, the door was completely blocked...
Fatigued and confused, I had difficulty computing this vision blocking my way-
260 pounds and 6' 3" tall, Big Bubba had flown home over the long weekend for the first time since we moved him to Mesa, Arizona in February.

Hugs. Tears. More hugs.
"I'm so glad you're home."
"Me too, Dad."

What a wonderful gift!
Have a nice weekend everyone, and remember the reason we celebrate it.

6 comments:

cary said...

Drop me an e-mail, GB - I'll pass on my phone number, in case Bubba needs/wants anything, or just needs a break from campus...

The Old Man said...

I know you loved seein' the lad - but WHYINHELL are our sons so damn much bigger than we are?? Good thing I'm not prone to complexes....

Sounded like a tough day, amigo. Enjoy your stand-down...

THIRDWAVEDAVE said...

Wow!! Busy day. But it ended with a great surprise. Tell Bubba I said "Hey."

joker said...

As I've told you before, I like the way you tell a story and from a woman's point of view, this particular story brought a tear to my eye.

Di said...

I'm with 'Joker'...I'm wiping the tear as I type. Great post!

I'm in Nashville with my child at the moment...she's had sinus surgery....then I'm off to MS to be w/my dad who has survived a stroke. My son was here earlier, and under ANY circumstances, I'm so glad to be w/my children.

BTW..a friend of mine whose homestate is Ohio, had family members involved in a car accident there recently. All four/five passengers had to be air-lifted to the hospital. I had to wonder if you'd helped to transport any of them. Small world we live in!

I hope you are well!!

Tame :-) said...

good to know they were able to surprise you!! and end your long day with a smile...sounds like it was needed. Glad it was a wonderful weekend for ALL of you!!!

Tame