12 October 2012

An Expert At Every Turn

Late-fifties male.
Head bleed.
The flight to get him help will be 45 minutes in duration.

We put headphones on all our conscious patients so we can keep them informed about the progress of the flight, and get input from them on what they are feeling.
Initially, he seems like a nice guy. He's anxious... making jokes. His blood pressure is high, bad for a head bleed, but it's not so high as to cause panic and my crew is chatting with him, trying to get him to relax.

And then my opinion of him changes. Over the intercom I hear him say, "That's a problem."

My paramedic responds, "What's that?"

"See that? See that vibration? That's a problem. This helicopter either has a bearing going bad, or one of the blades is out of balance."

Paramedic- "It's a smooth night. I feel nothing out of the ordinary. Relax."

"Well, I'll tell you more about this flight when we land, but you've got a problem with this machine."

I bite my tongue and quash the impulse to ask our patient "How many hours do YOU have in the BK117?"

We soon get his number nailed though...
"My sister is a nurse at (the hospital we are taking him to)."

My flight crew... "Oh really? Which department does she work in?"

"I'm not sure. I think she's a flight nurse."
(This is possible because the receiving hospital DOES have a flight program.)

But he later confides, "You'll be surprised when you meet my sister. She's the opposite of me... weighs 300 pounds!"

That must be some POWERFUL helicopter at that program!
We've all met guys like this. I know he was probably scared to death, talking just to vent his fears.
But why are some folks compelled to stretch the truth beyond belief, trying to make themselves look like experts in everything they discuss?
I meet WAY TOO MANY of 'em in my life-journey.


Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Still, that would make me a bit nervous. I was flying in one of our Eurocopters the day before it crashed in 2005, shooting photographs. The same Eurocopter crashed the next day, killing both pilot and observer. There was a suit, later, against Turbomeca. I was in it one day prior; it could have been me -- and it was the same pilot flying.


Bloviating Zeppelin said...

And BTW, I really like the new look of the blog.


Jess said...

I've only flown in a helicopter a few times in my life, with the same result every time: my nose itches like crazy and I start sneezing. All times were in different Bell 206's and I'm guessing it's a certain vibration.

Considering all the stuff that's whirling around, the beating of the air by the blades and the constant buffeting of the wind, I'd think it would be damn near impossible to verify any small perceived change without a ground inspection, unless the pilot had spent a lot of time in the same helicopter and knew what would cause such changes from past experience.

Ed Bonderenka said...

I only flew in a helicopter once, also.
It was Marine One.
I slept through most of it.
It felt weird to be in an "aircraft" and go up instead of forward.
I wasn't concerned about it's maintenance.

Greybeard said...

BZ, did you notice, and comment on a strange vibration?
Or was that incident one of the catastrophic engine failures Turbomeca experienced some years ago. If it was an engine failure, much of the blame for the deaths can be laid on PPP...
Poor pilot planning/performance.
A good autorotation would have saved the machine AND the souls on board.

The BK117 I fly has a rotor system that transmits everything the rotor systems experiences right into the airframe. It is NOT the smoothest of machines for passengers to ride in.
For a novice to get into a BK the first time and start pointing out a very slight vibe was just laughable.

I've now been flying this machine 22 years and probably have 3500 hours in type. My "seat of the pants" is pretty good with the BK. The air was smooth and I felt/heard nothing unusual.
Our patient was just a little irritating, that's all.

Old NFO said...

Guarantee that sucker is WAY smoother than a Huey, or an H34... :-) He was probably scared s**tless...

Anders said...

You know, I think people like to volunteer their expertise because we all like to imagine we're a little more notable and learned than we really are. It took me a long time to quash the impulse and speak up on things I didn't really know my ass from my elbow on. Which is good, because I'm daily doing things that everyone around me is a lot more versed in. What's the saying, 'It's better to remain silent and be thought an idiot that to open your mouth and remove all doubt.'