09 March 2009

Road Kill

During Summertime back in my bicycle riding-newsboy days, you'd often smell them before you'd see them...
Some critter that had challenged an automobile and lost. The collision would most generally explode the animal, pushing entrails outside its body...
A buffet for the flies and maggots.

This guy's face looked like that.
Both eyes were there, but his nose, mouth, and jaw were gone.

His lower face looked like exactly like the disemboweled animals I smelled, then rode passed as a youth. First responders surmised he was drunk and passed out in the middle of the road, just over the crest of a hill. Whoever struck him may not have seen him... may not have known they'd run over a human being.
Oddly, these first responders were on their way to pick up another patient when they happened upon our patient lying in the road. They had to call out another ambulance to respond to the first call they were dispatched for...

This guy needed them much more. This guy was dying.

The landing zone was oriented in such a way that I had to land with the tail rotor facing the ambulance. Dangerous. I secured the LongRanger's flight controls and positioned myself behind the aircraft to tackle anyone who might approach the tail. That put me near the back door of the ambulance. When I was sure the dust had settled and the situation was under control I walked to the side door of the ambulance to watch my flight nurse at work. A warm night, the side door was open for cross-ventilation. As you can imagine, this guy looked ghastly. My nurse was desperately trying to insert a tube in his windpipe to establish a secure airway for him. She was struggling, sweating, frustrated. She had no landmarks to use to tell what was windpipe, what was crushed meat.
I looked at the guy's eyes...

They were pleading for help. My nurse continued frantically trying to help him.
Slowly... ever so slowly, the pleading look left his eyes and became blank. Ground EMS folks started CPR on him while my nurse continued her attempt to establish a clear airway for this poor guy.
She failed.

Some flights will bother me forever.
This was one of 'em.


cj said...

GB -

Been there in my own way. I have what I call my 'drawer' full of photos that lives in the back of my brain... photos I dearly do not want to ever take out and see again but every once in awhile, something triggers a recollection and I can't help myself.

Time and space. It's the only thing that helps.


camerapilot said...

Oh GB ya got me going to a place I seldom go.....
I see this guy often. There are several that show up unannounced from time to time. I can be anywhere and they will creep up, take me by the hand and show me a technicolor horror show but this guy is always the first in line.
I was working on a movie it doesn't matter what the movie was, I had finished up lunch and was making my way back to the stage so that I could lay down, get off my feet, like soldiers "why stand when you can sit why sit when you can lay down". I heard yelling from a distance it was a different kind of yelling, yelling that goes back before we had words. A man in the lead yelled and I could hear the word "medic". I turned and ran to the stage where I knew there was a medic. All shows have a "Set Medic" that watch over us. This medic, an elderly woman who I knew wasn't much good beyond handing out candies and band-aids sat there smiling at me. I told her that there was an emergency, she looked at me calmly and asked me what kind, I looked at her med bags neatly packed and asked if they were hers, she said yes, I grabbed them, threw them in a cable cart and told her to follow me. A crowd had formed in front of the main door to the stage that we call the "Elephant Door" because it's so big an elephant could walk in. I yell to the crowd "side door or elephant door?" they point to the side door. I turn the cart, hit the door and hold it open for her, she ponders what bags to take, I tell her I'll take two and she can take the other.
The stage is dark, it's silent, we walk the inside perimeter and then the breathing, mechanical,jerking, gasping and then the body. He had fallen from the perms which is a wooden beamed truss that forms a grid under the catwalks. Lights and backdrops anything and everything is hung from these. He had done the instinctual thing as he fell 40+ feet, he put his arms in front of him to brace against the impact just like Superman. Blood had formed a backdrop, thick and dark beyond red, it put the taste of copper in my mouth. Yellow bone shards, a smashed shape that was his head, the medic stood there not moving. I told her to clear his airway, she was lost and went to one of her bags and pulled out a stethoscope. I told her that he was breathing which also meant that his heart was beating. I reached into the broken mans back pocket, pulled out his wallet so I could put a name and face on the broken man, his name was Paul. I yelled his name, told him to hang on, the ambulance was on it's way. I ran to the door when the siren got near, medics were standing looking around, I yelled they came running, I told them a man had fallen 40 some feet, upper left quadrant and face smashed, back broken and extended, arms, legs multiple compound fractures. They came up to Paul, the medic asked why I hadn't cut off his shirt and I told him I wasn't the medic.
I went back to work after that back to the show, the show must go on. I wonder what fool came up with that line.
There was no mention of his death on the TV news, the papers, the director didn't even come forward, never said a word.
Hurray for Hollywood.

cary said...

Mind movies that get ripped back to the surface and replay:

The SeaHorse had hit the side of a steep Korean mountain valley during Team Spirit.

The cargo had spilled when the Horse impacted.

I found his tags and the hand that held them close hanging in a tree about twenty feet up. He was the squad leader, the guy I had been the RO for many times, and every time he was off the ground he would hold tight to his tags "Just in case" for the entire flight - whether a helo insert or an international flight from California to Japan.

Why not me this time? Because my buddy wanted to do a helo insert, since I had done many with the line company, and it was set up that he would take my place as lineco RO and I would take his place as the base RO on radio watch.