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.


majroj said...

As frustrating as getting instrux from my wife.

So a smoke source uinder a canopy would be better, or send someone outside the canopy to point you in?

I heard that between Coasties, Guard/Army/USAF, sheriff's and police units in Katrina's wake, four different sets of maps were sometimes in use and not all parties had GPS. I've encouraged the local FD and PD to use us CERT volunteers one weekend to go out and determine the GPS long/lats of potential helispots or ad hoc heliports, then go out another weekend and epoxy markers at each with those coordinates. No interest as of yet.
You had the police freq, are there others such as in the FRS bands(civilian "walkie-talkies") which are customarily used to call to civilians on the ground?

Happy New Year, sir!

cary said...

Frustrating, indeed. Unfortunate that he didn't make it, but the fact he lived after a D7 blade cut him in two was pretty amazing.

Happy New Year, and I hope you get bored waiting for emergency flights. Human nature being what it is, that ain't gonna happen, so fly safely.

Greybeard said...

As always, I'm realizing things I forgot to include in the original post. This was a hot summer day, and our friend the cop parked his cruiser in the shade to help keep it cool. If he had positioned the car in the open near the LZ where they wanted us to land, we'd have been able to see him pretty quickly.
I don't know how much utility could be had with smoke grenades, Majroj. I'm sure there are situations where they might be of use, but I'm not sure there would be enough cases to make it worthwhile for crews to carry an incendiary device around in their vehicles all the time. Kandy, if you're reading this comment, please chime in with an opinion!

I cannot emphasize enough...
Pre-planned LZ's are a MUST!
Check to insure it hasn't already been done, and if not, go out with a good GPS unit and find relatively unobstructed landing areas. After making sure the property owners approve, designate and log them. (We use a grid system and designate ours with Letter/Number designations like FLZ2-2, for Fubar County LZ#2 in grid two. Designating an LZ every 5 miles or so alongside major arteries will save lives. Schoolyards, sport fields, church yards, and large parking lots can all be logged.

Radio frequencies...
Most our aircraft have a radio aboard that can dial in 10,000 frequencies. (Our friend Kandy's beautiful face adorned a National advertising campaign for said radio!) In my experience the freqs. ordinarily aren't a problem... most facilities know what freq. they operate on. The problem communicating with folks occurs because many of them don't know the discrete "tone code" that must also be dialed in to talk directly with them. I wish I had a quarter for the number of times I've landed at a scene without voice communications with the scene commander because they didn't know their own tone code! Frustrating and dangerous!

FRS bands...
Not sure about those Majroj. Let me ask around and I'll get back to ya!

TBear said...

Wow, picture is a view that your friend in Roswell would understand in that LOCH.
Knowing you I can almost see your face. and hear a comment.
As far a FRS or GMRS they are small radios that opeate on 462.562 to 462.725 with as many PL as 19. They have a unit that is also radio and GPS. Each radio is almost alike except Freq and PL are not on same channels. Good range on them for ground pounders. That info for you.

Greybeard said...

Thanx TBear!
There's your answer, Majroj.
FRS radios are in a band we can use...
the only question is what range will they reach out to?

majroj said...

Pitchpull, thanks, sorry i failed to check back often enough. I'm still collecting info, thanks very very much to one and all. If/when the article's accepted I'll try to send a copy aor advise where it's posted.