03 April 2008
Rain Rain Rain
I found that picture on the internet, but it depicts the view our mechanic will probably have of his home tomorrow. One town just South of us had three months worth of rain in 24 hours. Ground saturated, it started raining again last night and has rained through the morning today. I'm working day shift today. Lemme check the weather for ya...
KXXX 031845Z AUTO 14008KT 7SM OVC006 09/08 A2994 RMK AO2 LTG DSNT S THRU W=
That visibility is actually an improvement... it was 2 1/2 miles in rain and fog when I got out of the car this morning.
Under these circumstances we pull the multi-million dollar hovering/flying emergency room into the hangar and let our dispatchers know we probably won't be aviating. This gives them the ability to warn those calling for flights that they probably should be rounding up ground transportation for their patient, even as dispatch checks to see if our weather has miraculously cleared enough for us to push out of the hangar and launch.
And they do call.
We call it "Chopper Shopping". The phone rings and I'm asked to check weather for an inter-hospital flight to Blah-blah. I smile.
"Blah-blah" hospital has one of our competitors helicopters parked literally within sight of their ER door, about half a mile South. It's almost certain they called our competitors first, got a refusal, and then called us to tempt us to fly in these conditions. They're not being evil... they have someone in their ER that needs a helicopter, and they're trying their best to set up the transport.
I check current weather and forecast for the entire route... home base to the transmitting hospital, from there to the receiving hospital, then back home, considering flight and waiting time involved. With the weather I showed you above it's a no-brainer...
I say NO.
Fifteen minutes later the phone rings again. My dispatcher says, "It's Blah-blah again. They want to know if you can do the flight now."
They've just wasted 15 minutes of this patient's life... time they could have used to get them rolling toward the care they need via ground ambulance. Sometimes this can go on for hours...
"Can you fly now?"
"Can you fly now?"
It's oddly like dealing with children on a long trip, asking "are we there yet?"
Sometimes I'm tempted to anonymously call the patient's family and suggest they have a lawyer investigate what transpired before their loved ones were finally transported to get proper care.
With rain comes car accidents. It's frustrating to turn down flights knowing those victims need our help. In all cases we have to resign ourselves... it does no good to pluck a patient from an accident scene, then kill them and all aboard the aircraft trying to fly in non-flyable weather.
So we put "The Astronaut Farmer" into the player,
kick back, and push "play".
Phone rings... push "pause".
Push "play". A few minutes pass. Phone again... push "pause".
We REALLY do want to fly!
Since we can't, we're happy they invented the "pause" button.
(A review of the movie is on the way. Hint... NO!)