19 April 2011

Meh. Then UP! Then Down.

"Your flight is a go. Heading of 331 degrees for 31 miles. Your patient is a 12 year old female currently being extricated."

We take off, make our initial call to dispatch, and get more information:
"Your patient is the unrestrained passenger of a car involved in a head-on collision. Your ground contact is *******410 on Fire/Mutual Aid."

In 18 minutes we are circling the scene. The ground folks have done a fantastic job setting up the LZ... it's a four-lane State Highway with a <- -> turn lane in the center. In our initial radio contact they warn me of wires to the West and South of my landing area. Our landing is normal, my crew walks our stretcher to the scene while I tidy up my paperwork, then disembark the aircraft to play tail-rotor guard. There is nice housing on both sides of the road here and all residents are standing outside their homes watching the activity.

In 8 minutes my crew is walking my way with our young patient securely strapped to the stretcher. We load her, button the aircraft up, and get underway.
My crew discusses the fact that one of her legs is shorter than the other and her foot on that leg is pointed in an odd angle, but other than that her injuries don't seem too serious.

We transport her to the Children's hospital. I take off to refuel, then return to retrieve my crew.
As we lift to return to our base my nurse says, "Well Greybeard, it's a good thing they called us. In the ER her blood pressure dropped and they rushed her to the operating room."

One of the reasons first responders will call us is due to an indicator called "Mechanism of injury", (referred to in the animation I posted a little while back). If it's apparent to them that forces in an accident are high enough that someone could be hurt seriously, they call us just to be safe. This little girl is now in trouble, but since someone was concerned about the forces involved in the accident, she will now be the recipient of the best possible care she can receive, and in a timely basis.

The rest of our shift is without disturbance.
At shift change the phone rang with an update-
She died...
A torn aorta.
The BEST from everyone just wasn't good enough.
Chatting with us as we loaded her and not in unbearable pain, even when we heard she had been rushed to the OR we had high hopes for her.
Now she's gone.

It's one thing for an adult to make the decision they won't "click" their seatbelt on.
It's another thing to not insure your children are safely buckled in.
I call that neglect.
And I hope our Law Enforcement personnel start holding negligent parents responsible, even when they're mourning the loss of their children.

If we truly want change, we have to DEMAND change.


ddf said...

We can not legislate good parenting.

The Old Man said...

Amen, ddf. My children were taught to be safe as I could teach them. Unfortunately, not all children are - and some will pay the price.
Godspeed, young lady. You should have been with us longer...

Bob Barbanes said...

This why it's never a good idea to check up on people you've flown. Way back in the days before there were widespread dedicated air ambulance helicopters, the company I worked for was often chartered to fly "medevacs." Typically, these were merely transfers from an unprepared rural hospital to a better one in NYC.

So one day I flew a burn patient. Youngish (21 y/o) kid, tried to commit suicide in a most dreadful way. Mother and sister were with him as he was loaded into the helicopter. They kept saying to him, "Hang on, John. Hang on.

Couple of days later I called the receiving hospital to inquire on his condition. Finally connected to the right department, the nurse paused and drew a breath before answering my question. "Oh, he passed away," she said quietly. Damn. Obviously, John did not want to "hang on," despite his family's pleas.

In the 30 years since that day, although I've never "flown EMS" as a job, I've done a lot of such flights - down in Honduras that's about all I did, including scene work. And after the flight is over and done, I don't want to know anything more. I prefer to let God sort it out, for I have done my part- as much and the best I can do. Learning the outcome, either good or bad, just messes with our emotions too much.

At least, too much for me. God love ya for doing what you do. I could not do it.

Greybeard said...

I took this job 25 years ago Bob wondering if I'd be able to take the emotions and the suffering of my transports. From what I've read of your blog I can tell you this-
You might take a few flights to adjust, but you COULD do it.
You have exactly the right attitude-
Careful about weather. Particular about your flying machine. Looking out for the interests of your passengers, even to the detriment of your own desires.

Yeah, the emotional stuff is tough. But folks need our help, and we're the only ones that can provide it sometimes. It's troubling to lose some of them, particularly the younger ones. But on the other hand I can look back at my log and consider how many people I have impacted postitively. In 25 years I've probably flown 7,000 patients. I also seldom follow-up on them so I have no idea of numbers, but a few of those folks would no doubt have died, and more would have had lives of lower quality, had our helicopter and crew not shown up to move them "When seconds count".

It's a tough but satisfying job.
And I think you'd do it well.

Well Seasoned Fool said...

My daughter in law is a seat belt fanatic. I'm glad. Bet the parents who don't make kids wear belts don't have control of them in other areas; like public behavior.

Old NFO said...

Sadly, I have to agree with ddf... The responders made a good call to bring y'all in based on MOI, but not anyone can catch a ruptured aorta. It's too fast to bleed out, and unless you already have the chest cracked, you're not going to win. Sad story, and hopefully she's gone to a better place now.