Day shifts during Winter...
It's dark when ya get up.
It's dark when ya go home.
Don't we own property in Florida? Tell me again why we're here!
I'm half asleep when I start the car and head to work, trying to get my second cuppa in me. I'm mostly awake by the time I get to work but still, it's nice to be able to approach things slowly.
I have to sign in, check weather and NOTAMS, pre-flight the aircraft, brief my crew, and call communications to let them know what I can do and who I can do it with. Done at my normal rate, the above listed tasks take about an hour.
Yesterday I barely walked in the door when I heard "You have a pending flight".
Not quite enough coffee yet.... "Huh? What was that?"
"Dispatch is asking if you can fly to Itty-Bittytown and fly a patient to Capital City."
The all-night snow ended about two hours ago. Roads coming to work were horrendous, and my normal 40 minute drive took right at an hour. I break my normal routine and call dispatch first thing...
"What's this I hear you're trying to put me to work when I'm still half-asleep?"
"Yeah, it's true. Can you do it?"
"I'm checking right now. Ceilings are good, but there are still some bad visibilities out there due to scattered snow flurries. We should be able to drive around those. Yeah, I think we can take the flight, but I still have my pre-flight duties to take care of."
"How long before you can lift?"
"Give me 45 minutes."
"We'll tell 'em."
The helicopter has been in the hangar for two days due to weather. I've pre-flighted it twice without pushing it out to fly.
A quick check of the logbook and a quick walk-around of the machine and I'm sure it'll fly. I brief my crew and let them know we'll encounter some snow showers along the way, but I think the flight is doable. They concur.
We take off for Itty-Bitty and initially I'm concerned...
Viz is worse than I expected, but ceilings are well above us. We fly for 15 minutes and the seeing improves. Soon we're seeing blue sky through holes in the clouds, and we can see snow falling from clouds over there, and over there. Even flying through the snow showers the visibility stays above two miles, and I'm perfectly comfortable with that over this flat terrain during daylight hours.
We land and pick up a 47 year old woman having heart difficulties. She's morbidly obese. We fly 45 minutes to Capital City in mostly sunny skies reflecting off the snow covered ground...
I'm VERY thankful for my sunglasses.
Back at our base a little before 11 A.M., we're very aware we missed breakfast because of this early flight and want to get some lunch in us. We've just finished putting lunch dishes in the dishwasher when the phone rings...
"Can you go from Hometown to Children's Hospital?"
A quick glance at radar, current weather, and the forecast and I respond, "Yeah, whatd'ya have for us?"
"Your patient is a 4 year old boy with seizures."
I'm always concerned going to my hometown hospital that I'll be flying someone I know. I'm relieved when I enter the ER and see no familiar faces.
But this boy is still actively seizing... has not stopped seizing for more than two hours. Two ER nurses have been standing by with suction apparatus to keep his airway clear in case he vomits, and they've been giving him anti-seizure meds to no avail.
The boy's very young Mom is in the room, red-eyed and looking worn out. She's sharp enough to ask me, "Is the weather okay?"
I reassure her.
I go to the desk and hear the Doc talking with his counterpart at Children's Hospital...
"Yeah, he was actively seizing when his Dad brought him in. When I tried to get information from his Dad he was very uncooperative. When I started tending to the patient, Dad disappeared."
I hear snippets from other ER personnel...
Our patient's Dad apparently beat him up when he was a toddler... and served a little time in jail for it. The poor little guy has had seizure problems ever since.
I grit my teeth.
I want to meet this Dad.
I want some time completely alone with him.
If he is bigger than me, I want to have a stun-gun and billy-club close at hand.
I only need 15 minutes with him... PLEASE!
They finally get the seizures to subside and we load and transport the poor little guy. We get back to our base at 3 P.M..
The phone does not ring.
My relief shows up on time.
I'm glad. I'm emotionally tired.
I want to go home, hug my wife, and call my son and tell him I love him.