29 January 2008

Death By Acetominophen

Winds- 170 degrees variable 210 degrees at 20 knots gusting to 30, peak gusts to 35.
There are rainshowers in the area.
Time to earn my salary.

"Your patient is a 57 year old man, victim of a drug overdose. He has ingested an entire bottle of Tylenol PM."
Acetominophen is a wonderful drug unless you take too much of it. In overdose, I'm told it does irreparable damage to the liver, causing a slow, difficult death.

My paramedic is slightly airsick from two previous flights in these conditions.
In an attempt to spare him further discomfort I climb to 3000' above ground level hoping to smooth some of the bumps, even though the flight takes only 13 minutes.
Elevator UP! Elevator Down!

Strong, gusty winds are dangerous with the BK117...
The main rotor is very flexible, and during startup and shutdown in gusty, variable winds can flex downward and strike
the large
vertical fins near the rear of the aircraft, rendering it non-flyable. Before we land at the transferring hospital I tell my crew, "I won't risk shutting down here or at the receiving hospital. I'll go get fuel while you tend to the patient and will be waiting on the pad for you when you return."
This crew has been around long enough to know the routine.

I land at the transferring hospital and grab the portable O2 bottle, then help my crew offload the stretcher. There is a security guard prohibiting access to the helipad, so I close the clamshell doors, climb back into my seat, and listen to Dennis Miller on the ADF receiver, emanating from WOAI in San Antonio. I'm distracted, thinking about the patient we're gonna move.

Twenty-four minutes later my crew emerges with him.
He's tubed and unconcious, a very young looking 57 year old. We find out he is a County employee... has a job where he knows full well what an Acetominophen overdose will do to him.

Why would someone sentence themselves to slow, deliberate death this way?

Patient and crew safely aboard, I button them up and do a walk around to make sure cowlings, doors, and fuel cap are still secure. Again, the takeoff into the wind is an elevator ride up to a smooth altitude. From the transferring hospital I can see the "Bigtown" skyline, but with these winds the 32 mile flight will take 22 minutes... you could almost make it as quickly in a ground ambulance! We're literally flyin' sideways... my heading is 30 degrees left of our course across the ground.

My approach to the rooftop pad at the receiving hospital is into the wind, VERY steep and VERY slow. Elevator towers and surrounding buildings can make these approaches treacherous. I'm surprised and pleased that this approach goes without a hitch. But as I land from a hover I notice the reflection of the pad lights shimmering... the pad is wet with rain.
"Be careful on the pad guys... it looks pretty wet".

Throttles back to ground idle, collective and cyclic secured, I dismount and grab the portable O2 tank on the way back to the clamshell doors. As I start to open them I look down to see a spot of blood at my feet, then another spot, and another, and another on the way to the elevator. Another helicopter has been on this pad before us but since the rain fell, with a bad trauma patient.

Together we hot-offload our patient, and when my crew is safely on their way to the ICU, I pop over to our base to refuel... once again listening to Dennis Miller, thinking how nice it would be to be on the Riverwalk in San Antonio, listening to him there, sharing a few beers with friends and loved ones.

Safely home the questions come-
Why did this gentleman, so close to my own age, find life unbearable?
Why, instead of taking a walk in the woods with a .357 magnum, did he choose this liver-killer as the means of ending his life?
Did he want someone else to suffer?

I'll never know.

28 January 2008

Traffic Cameras III- Burn Baby Burn!

I promise, after this, no more posts on this subject,
(at least until another REALLY interesting way to destroy the things comes along!)

Light 'em up!
It gives me hope that people the world over haven't forgotten how to revolt against government stupidity.
From the comments there:
"Cameras watching cameras watching cameras..."

Vodkapundit brought the article to my attention.

23 January 2008

Too Much Freedom?

Some years ago I bought and read this book.
If you can find a copy, I heartily recommend it.
Those of us defending this country had heard rumors of Soviet flying machines... the MI-24 Hind helicopter and the MIG-25 fighter, and what we were hearing frightened us. We knew these machines were fast. We knew little about their weaknesses. I devoured "MIG Pilot" in one sitting.

The strengths and weaknesses of the MIG-25 are covered satisfactorily in the book, but much more fascinating is what we learned about the inefficiencies of the entire Soviet system. When first introduced to one of our Supermarkets, Belenko thinks he's being mislead. Similarly, he's incredulous when he's taken aboard one of our aircraft carriers and shown how our sailors are fed, and how healthy our fighting forces are.

But the thing about the book that most surprised me was something Soviet defectors apparently went through frequently...
Panic at being given "too much freedom".
The Soviet system chose your school. It groomed you for a job. That job determined what sort of housing you could expect to occupy, and the geographical area where you would live. All those decisions were made for you by the Soviet government.
Lieutenant Belenko found himself thrust into a life where he had to begin to think about what he would do with the rest of his life... his occupation, where he would live, what he would eat...
And making all those decisions frightened him. He seriously considered going back to the Soviet Union to face what certainly would have been severe punishment for putting the MIG-25 into the hands of Westerners.
But he didn't, and I'm hopeful he'll write a book bringing us up to date on how he eventually made the transition from Soviet pilot to American citizen.

His story set me to thinking about how similar our country has become in so many ways to the Soviet system, and how we continue in that direction. Many of our citizens have virtually placed their entire lives in the hands of government-
Health Care.
Employment? Many stay at home and have children, knowing money will flow their direction.
These are the same sort of folk that failed to move out of hurricane Katrina's path...
The "Government" didn't provide transportation for them.

Slavery was abolished almost 150 years ago in this country, yet it still exists...
Except now I'm the slave.
For years I've worked hard to produce the finest product I possibly can. More and more, a large chunk of what I produce is taken from me against my will and given to others that could work, but produce nothing while enjoying the fruits of my (and your) labor.
I'd like my fellow citizens to be educated about the joys of being able to make their own choices to improve their lives.

I don't like being a slave.
I want to be free!

14 January 2008

What I Cannot Teach You...

I knew he'd be trouble the first time I saw him.
His "walk" said it all... he was God's gift to aviation.

The certificate in his pocket said "Single Engine Land, Private Pilot Privileges".
He was the proud owner of a
Long EZ...
A "Hot" homebuilt aircraft that he HAD NOT built himself. During our initial meeting he made sure I knew how fast his airplane was, and what a great "stick" he was. Old pilots and bold pilots... this one was at the extreme end of the "bold" scale. In a perfect world I'd refuse to take him as a student. But it's just not that easy... I've got bills to pay. So we get in the R22 and start the process of learning to hover, and I know I'm gonna have difficulty with him, even trying to rein him in all along the way.

It turned out he WAS a good stick. He learned quickly. Soon we were at the point where he and I both knew he was ready to go solo.
He said, "Lemme show you something", flew to a residential area and asked, "What do ya think about landing right there?", pointing out a very confined area in a small yard behind a house which was surrounded for several blocks by similar houses. Trees, fences, wires, clotheslines... all complicated the approach, landing, and takeoff scenarios.

I say, "I wouldn't land there."
"Why?!"... He's surprised.

"Because too many things can go wrong, and the neighbors are gonna be upset if you land there, not to mention our friends at the FAA."
I thought that was the last of it. It wasn't.

It's an indication of the sort of personality I was dealing with...
Three days later he told me, "I landed in that lot I showed you behind my Mother-in-law's house, and it was no trouble at all!"
I was shocked... actually I think the word ASTOUNDED better fits my reaction.
I let him know I was not a happy camper and said, "If you want to continue
flying this aircraft, you'll pay closer attention to what I'm tellin' ya."
He got the message... I'm sure he continued to do stupid stuff with the helicopter, but he learned not to tell me about it!

But now you've been introduced to the sort of personality that would have been better suited being a Fighter Pilot than a civilian helicopter jockey...
The sort of personality that ends up eventually making the News-

I've discussed before why I think helicopters are safer than airplanes. One of the big reasons I feel that way is because when you find yourself flying along in questionable weather, you can land near "Farmer John's house" and make new friends over a cup of coffee while the weather changes. It's mighty hard to do that when you need 1,500 feet of level, reasonably hard, unobstructed real estate on which to land your flying machine. The thing to remember is, once you're on the ground, stay there until it's safe to fly:
News report.

Nighttime. Clouds at 300 feet. Less than 2 miles visibility. Judgment and flying skills impaired by drugs? When the bent metal has come to rest, everyone can see the links in the chain leading to disaster:
NTSB Accident Report.

A stupid, usless waste of life.
I'm sure that pilot also thought he was God's gift to aviation. It's really unfortunate that he was able to fool two others into getting back into that helicopter with him that night..

10 January 2008

Robin Williams, Class Act!

You're a civilian with little exposure to military tradition. Something happens that takes you completely by surprise.
Watch true intelligence at work in this man.
(The video made this grown man cry and laugh at the same time!)

Thank you Blackfive.

09 January 2008

Hillary Cries, II

Little Sister is an expert at pointing out when her brother is an insensitive moron. She helps keep me from getting 'way out there on the "Dirty Rotten Men" scale.
To my post Hillary Cries she commented:

"As much as I DON'T like Hillary, I have to respond here.
All of you who think she can't do the job just because she cried, are nothing but a bunch of men."

So there, you... you... you... MEN! (Spit that word out like bile!)

Now I actually thought I was bein' compassionate, sayin' I felt sorry for Ms. Rodham.
And my real question was, if Hill is already so tired that she's exhausted and melancholy, what sort of behavior should we be looking for come late-October?

But men, don't be ashamed. I'm not gonna let her accusation go without a little defense here either...
Here's one columnists' take on Hillary's tears.
And here's another.
Both columnists are pictured.
Anything jump out at ya about those pics?!
It's not just men, and it's not just Conservatives noticing Hill's mini-breakdown.

I referred earlier to the fact that I've become cynical.

My real question about Hill's "incident" is, were the tears contrived or real? If they were real I can understand them, although once again I think it's mighty early in this marathon to be so worn out a question like the one posed can bring on the "crackly voice".
If they were
contrived, well, that's pretty much what I would expect from the Bill/Hill campaign.

And back to the issue of MEN!... (ptui!)

I've also
seen grown men cry at times when I felt it was perfectly appropriate...
But in the example shown, it was NOT about what was happening to HIM!

07 January 2008

Hillary Cries

(Or maybe ALMOST cries.)
Have you seen the video in it's entirety?

I had only seen the first few seconds of the following:

How's this make you feel?
I think Hillary Rodham is a Socialist and I certainly DO NOT want her to be Commander in Chief, BUT...
I understand exactly what's goin' on here and I feel sorry for her.
Have you ever been so tired you couldn't sleep when you tried?
You lay down in a perfectly good bed with several hours to really, really sleep...
knowing you MUST sleep in order to perform the way you need to,
and you nod off, then wake up... nod off, then wake up, never getting the restful sleep you need so badly. How long are her work days? How many days in a row has she worked without a day to kick back and do absolutely nothin'? I'm bettin' it's been months.

I think it all changed about the time I wrote this post, and she realized she just might not have the election ladled to her with a Silver Spoon. Worry about how to deal with someone who might steal a huge block of votes you thought you could take for granted would certainly add to your sleep problems.

Campaigning for President has to be brutal. Like our more strenuous military schools, it's a good indicator for how someone would perform during crisis time.
I feel sorry for her, but politics ain't pinball.
What if she's faced with a "Missiles of October" situation?
There'll be no time for tears then.

Ugly, But That Boy Can Cook!

I don't know if it's because I'm gettin' old, or if I've been at the job too long.
I've become cynical, and it's a shame.

Keeping a medical log is one of the things I wish I had done when I started this job 21 years ago... it'd be interesting now to go back and review the different injuries I've carried to get help.
And that way I could also have kept track of the percentage of people we transport who are responsible, even partially, for their problems.
My gut tells me it's a big percentage:
Drunk driving,
Drug usage and overdoses,
Food Addicts,
and combinations of the above.

The geographical area we cover with our Helicopter Ambulance is experiencing a "Crystal Meth"epidemic. I was not at all surprised to read Nurse William's post on the subject. Check the comment I left there telling him many of us are dealing with the same problem.

The night after leaving that comment we received a request to pick up a 27 year old male at an outlying hospital and take him to the Burn Center. Thirty percent of his body burned, he claimed he was injured trying to put out a fire consuming his pickup.
My immediate thought? "Okay, we'll see!"
Cynical me...

I must admit I was surprised when we got there...
He's pretty normal lookin'. Good meat on his bones, and he has almost all his teeth.
His color is good.

He claims to be a woodworker. He says his truck had over $1,000 of different hardwoods aboard when it caught fire, and he is worried how he will recover from the loss.

We safely transport him to get the help he needs. While my crew finishes their paperwork I'm watching the Doc and Nurses doin' their jobs at this extraordinary facility.
(Wanta talk about heroes? THE FOLKS THAT DO THIS JOB ARE HEROES! It's some of the smelliest, ugliest work in the world, and they have to hurt babies and children in order to heal them.)

The Doc comes out with a quizzical smile, shaking her head. When I say "What?" she says,
"We drew a blood sample on him. Afterward he advised me he's taking Lorcet and says he was told it will make him test positive for Meth."

Me... cynical?
Yeah, but for good reason.

05 January 2008

Another Way To Bend A Helicopter

It's always easy to second guess, but I think this video shows a phenomenon that every basic helicopter student is taught to avoid:

My guess?
I'd bet "settling with power", or more correctly, Vortex Ring State, where the air being pushed downward by the rotor system recirculates around the rotor and becomes accelerated enough that the rotor can no longer push itself upwards using that recirculated air.

Recognized quickly, the disaster is avoidable.

04 January 2008

First, Do No Harm

In my "Perspective" post below I mentioned how easy it is to become frazzled under the "combat" conditions we frequently find ourselves in at scenes.

At scenes we are trying to save lives, so it's best to go slowly and not do something to harm the patient.

03 January 2008

Do You Read Michael Totten ?

You should.
He's one of the few reporters in Iraq givin' us the straight poop-

"Another young boy came up and gave me a high-five. They often do this to the Marines. Whatever the adults in Fallujah might think of Americans, the kids really do seem to like us.
Eight year olds do not have politics."

Right Michael. But eight year olds reach gun-carrying age pretty quickly, and today's "high-fives" make the future of Iraq look brighter.

It's worth your time to go read Michael's column here.

This post was originally titled "Do You Read Michael Yon?"
Two embedded reporters are risking their lives to report the truth in Iraq...
Michaels Yon, and Totten. I got 'em confused.
Punish me.

02 January 2008

Will I Get To Vote My Choice?

Like most, I'm an "issue" voter.
My issues in this election are, in this order:

1. Immigration reform... and a resounding NO! to anything that even remotely smells like amnesty.
(We should adopt Mexico's Immigration Policy!)

2. Tax reform. I like what I hear about the "Fair Tax".

3. Second Amendment Rights. (This is really not number 3,
but 2-1/2.)

If you agree that these issues are at the top of your list, the ONLY candidate out there that is making satisfying noises is pictured above. Will he still be a candidate by the time my Primary rolls around?
I hope so.

"First Spouse" is also an issue. I shudder to think about having to look at one of the prospective candidate's spouse for 4 years!

01 January 2008


It took a while to figure out what was going on... frustrating!
We use the helicopter to save seconds, and here I was wasting minutes trying to find a scene right beneath me!
The call came in-
"Your flight is a go for a male victim, trapped beneath the blade of a bulldozer."
... Another of those stupid things we sometimes do when we're in a hurry-
He owned/operated/maintained the machine, and when a crack in the blade needed welding, he was the guy to do it. He lifted the blade the normal way, hydraulically, and since the job would only take a couple minutes, he didn't support it to keep it from falling. You know the rest of the story already don't you? While he was repairing the crack one of the hydraulic hoses burst and the blade fell across his midsection. I don't know what the blade weighed... someone help me...
It was a D7 Caterpillar. (Dave, are you out there?)
I know the blade weighed half a ton, maybe a full 2000 pounds. It effectively cut him in half. He was feeling some pain, but was conversing with others. The question was, what would happen when the blade was lifted off his body?

The flight to the scene took all of 8 minutes. I was in contact and coordinating our landing with the scene commander, a municipal policeman.
To him I said, "Okay, let me know when you see or hear me and guide me in."

From him I hear, "Okay, you're over us right now!"
We are flying parallel to an Interstate Highway, but when I looked down, all I could see was the view you see in the above photograph.
I bank hard to the right and say, "Okay, I don't see ya. Let me know when I'm over you again."
A few seconds later, at a higher pitch this time: "You're over us right now!"
...And again I'm lookin' at the same scenario... nothin' but trees.

-"Are the lights on your squad car flashing?"
I take a deep breath and key the radio again-
"I don't see ya partner. Where exactly are you?" His answer shows how thought processes sometimes get confused under combat conditions-
"I'm parked right beneath this big Oak Tree!"
Full foliage.
No way I could have seen him through all the leaves.
He was looking through his own eyes only...
not trying to imagine what I was seeing.
Most all ambulance districts have GPS units now and they are real lifesavers. Because of them, we don't often go through this agony. But if you ever experience an emergency and are trying to get help quickly, try your best to put yourself in the responder's shoes and give directions accordingly. If possible, know which direction is North/South/East/West.

And I know you're probably wondering...

No, he didn't make it.