07 September 2010

Oh, These Long Weekends!

Disclaimer, at TWD's prodding:
"This is a true story, but the names have been changed to protect the innocent... "

I wasn't even fully in the door...

It's Saturday night and a long weekend, so the natives have TWO days to be restless!
My Nurse says to me, "As soon as you can get your pre-flight stuff done, we have a flight."
I hate this, 'cause no matter how hard you try there are pressures here to hurry, and preflight duties need real attention to detail...
But someone needs the helicopter and the care we can provide. I force myself to be diligent while I do things as quickly as possible.

For the first time in weeks I raise the collective and come to a hover while the sun is still above the horizon. We fly eighteen minutes and land at the little hospital where dispatch says our patient, a 62 year old woman awaits us. I make a mental note of the fact that she's a year younger than me.

I catch up with my crew in the ICU.
Our patient is morbidly obese...
A diabetic...
A smoker...
While in this hospital she has fallen out of bed and they cannot get the bleeding from her badly traumatized nose under control.
She's barely conscious.
On top of all that, her heartbeat is doing funky things now and then.

Our 34 minute flight back into BigTown is uneventful and she is admitted into the ICU at the Level One Trauma Center. When I retrieve them my crew wonders over the intercom what the bigger hospital will be able to do to improve this woman's life. The sun slips beneath the horizon before we make our way back to our home base.

We're on the ground exactly 12 minutes before the phone rings once again...
"Weather check for a flight to *******boro."
"We can do it."
"Then your flight is a go for a 40-ish year old male burn victim."

Our patient has "ETOH" on board... (he's under the influence of alcohol).
Good and bad...
He's burned because he was acting like a fool, jumping over a very large fire. On landing his feet slipped from beneath him and he sat down in the middle of the hot coals. He's badly burned over about 30% of his backside, including his

(say it like Forrest Gump now!)... but-tocks.

When we load him aboard the helicopter he's still under the influence of adult beverages and also has a little "medicine for pain" on board, so he's in LALA land during the flight. When the sun comes up in the morning the scenario will be different. Over the intercom on the way to the Burn Center my Flight Nurse laughs out loud...
"You won't believe this!"
"His name is Jack, and his middle initial is B"!
"Well, he wasn't all that 'nimble', was he?"
(Laughter all around.)
It's this dark humor that provides the relief valve for those of us that see this kind of suffering, (and MUCH worse), all too often. Without it we'd quickly succumb to depression.

It's been raining off and on all day.
We get back to our base just before the temperature drops enough to turn the residual moisture into fog.
By the time we're finished with our paperwork, just after midnight, safe flying is an impossibility. We head to our individual beds and "Earn Money Sleeping".

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