31 October 2008

The Halloween Deputy

Late Halloween night.
He collided with a train.
He wore a Deputy Sheriff's uniform, complete with (real) badge.
Returning from a party, he had a load of ethyl alcohol on board.
He was in trouble. If he truly was a Deputy, he was in a HEAP of trouble.

The ER had called the Sheriff's department for information. All they could do was affirm an officer by that name worked for them.

Both his femurs were broken. I've written before about the force required to do that...
Force so powerful it can burst or dislodge organs from their attachment points.
He definitely needed the helicopter.

Whether or not he was a Deputy had no effect on his medical care.
But somehow it did affect the stress level of all providing the care...
Were we dealing with someone who, like a soldier, regularly put his life on the line for others?
If so, what would cause him to be so intoxicated, even on a Halloween night?
This accident would be a life altering event, no matter what.
Would his job also be in jeopardy?

We loaded and transported him to the trauma center, still not knowing his official status.
Only later did we hear our patient's brother had loaned him his uniform for a family Halloween party.

And he survived.


jinksto said...

And.. he'll probably still lose whatever job he has. Most employers don't take kindly to employees that go missing for several months to repair themselves when they've been injured as a result of their own DUI. On the one hand it's easy to think, "well he was driving drunk, got what he deserved and thank God that he didn't kill anyone learning his lesson". On the other hand, most people have done the same thing at some point in their lives. Most of us have learned not to do it but I can't help thinking what would have happened to me if the couple of times in my early years that I managed my way home completely sodden I had been unfortunate like this guy. It's hard to summon compassion for a DUI with the current level of angst against it but sometimes it leaks through, at least for me.

That's not to justify it though. It's an amazingly stupid thing to do... I just happen to be able to admit to being amazingly stupid a couple of times in my life. His brother too probably won't come out of it completely unscratched, he probably won't get rushed out the door the same as if he'd been driving drunk but most departments don't take kindly to loaning out badges... some are downright angry about it so both your patient and his brother are probably in for a long haul.

That said, thanks again for the work you do. About a year ago I ended up laying in a ditch due to a motorcycle accident (not a DUI and no one (other than me) was really at fault... just a bad set of circumstances) and seriously needed a helicopter. I didn't get one because the helicopters were busy with a School Bus accident on a nearby interstate. I found out later that none of the kids really needed to be transported by Helicopter whereas I needed it badly so I have personal experience with your occasional comments on evaluating need for helicopter transport in a better way. Still, I can see how a dispatcher would consider a multi-car accident involving school children a higher priority than a single casualty MVA.

The ambulance driver who called for helicopter transport was told to wait 30 minutes for a flight. She made the call not to wait and transported me over what would normally have been an hour drive in 20 minutes. She even had to use back roads to get around the Interstate being blocked by the school bus accident. 48 minutes after I kissed the pavement she had me getting an MRI that I badly needed.

As soon as I could walk again my wife and I got her schedule and showed up with literally bags full of treats and cookies the next time she came on shift. I was later told that her and her partner were, apparently, the stars of the break room for several days. I took the time to thank the Policeman who worked the wreck, the fire department that responded and mostly the EMS crew. It seemed like the right thing to do to me so I was shocked that they were surprised that I made the effort. Apparently, it's a rare event these days for people to thank first responders. So, again, thanks for the things that you and the people that you work with do. The decisions that you make save our lives (particularly mine) and not enough of us realize it. Just know that those of us that do realize it really do appreciate it.


Greybeard said...

Did you ever hit the nail on the head!?
You'll never hear me throwing stones for the same reasons you have cited...
Like you, I'm guilty, guilty, guilty.

What a powerful comment! Thank you.
Now and then, those of us in public service get a reward that makes up for all the risk and all the frustration.
I'm glad you survived your incident Jinks, and glad no one else was involved.
Seems to me you could be a better person for it.


Guilty as charged here. And, great job by you and your crew, GB.

Detail Medic said...

Yikes. My first thought was that if he did survive (and I can't believe he did!) he would lose his job for DUI if he is a Deputy. But LOANING your uniform and badge to be used as a costume to party in?!?! Good lord these guys have no sense of good judgement! Isn't that impersonating an officer and against the law? Geez. As always, GB you guys are my heroes. I used the services of our sky medics again last shift - I'll be writing about that tomorrow.

Greybeard said...

DM, our guess was that "real" Deputy thought lending his uniform for a family party would be harmless.
Still, I bet there were ramifications, don't you?

And that uniform...
With massive trauma, you know better than most what happened to it, don't you?

Thank you...
Lookin' forward to your next.

cj said...

I sure hope a moment of stupidity - lending his uniform to be used as a costume - doesn't lead to him losing his job. Discipline is a good thing, but so is education and mentoring... depending on how old and experienced the deputy was, of course.


I hate it when those on my side of the fence are so completely stupid...


cary said...

Glad the guy didn't cash in his chips.

No stones being thrown from this quarter, either.

The real Deputy is in for a very hard row, no matter which direction the discipline takes - and you can bet your bippy their will be discipline involved.

First responders never get enough lime light, so I'm here to say for the rest of the ignorant public: Thank You All, from the Bottom of my Heart, for your Service and Selflessness.