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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas Night Tummy Ache

On Christmas we had our families come up to have dinner with us. That night, at just before 0200, we got toned out for abdominal pain. We arrived on scene to find the patient laying in bed. She was a 32 year old female complaining of severe right upper quadrant abdominal pain. She said that the pain started just after she ate dinner and that it radiated to her right shoulder. The patient had been seen in the Hemet Valley Medical Center about four months ago and was diagnosed with gallstones. She was told to make an appointment with her primary care physician which she failed to do. We checked out all her vitals and started a line. I then contacted my base hospital and got an order for 10 milligrams of Morphine. Before I got off the phone MBA showed up so I gave them the order and sent them on their way to Desert Regional. The entire time I was there I kept thinking of my Pop who let his gall bladder burst before going to the ER. Even then, he didn't call 911. Oh well.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Are You Available For Another Medical Aid?

Later in the day after we signed out our plumber, we were toned out for a man that was experiencing pain after a traffic collision. We arrived at the house of our plumber who was now complaining of severe pain on his left side. Captain proceeded to poke the patient in each individual rib until he found the one that was probably broken. He then marked the spot with his pain. While we were waiting for MBA dispatch called us on the radio and asked if we were able to respond to another call. We informed them that we were not and medic engine 121 was dispatched from Yucca Valley. After I had finished with my assessment I had Grant take all of the equipment out to the engine. As soon as MBA showed up I gave them a quick report and let dispatch know that we were available for the new call in our area.

We were dispatched for a possible CVA. When we arrived we found the patient sitting in the back room of his house. The house wreaked of feces, both cat and human. He stated that he was having a bowel movement when he passed out. When he awoke, he was unable to get up. He then spent the next hour calling for his wife who was taking a nap. Once she awoke she was able to move her husband into the back room but she wasn't able to get him to stand. Once we arrived the husband insisted that he was alright and that he just needed help standing. Once we checked him out we helped him stand. He was incredibly unsteady on his feet and we finally were able to talk him into going to the hospital to get checked out.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Plumber Van Goes Down the Drain

A man driving home in his plumber van blew a tire and he lost control. He ended up hitting the center divider and then sliding across the highway only to go nose first over the 20 foot drop into a dry river bed. The van tumbled and rolled eventually landing on its wheels. The man self extricated out the passenger side of the van and climbed up to the embankment. At the time he refused to go to the hospital.

Here are the skid marks going from the center divider to the edge of the highway.

The skid marks headed over the edge.

Here is where the van landed. You can see the divot in the ground (in the foreground) that his tire left.

From this angle the van doesn't seem so bad.

It's starting not to look so good. No airbags were deployed.

The drivers side.

Here is what the driver was looking at when he wrecked.

He was lucky that nothing in back came flying forward to injure him.

Here the tow truck driver is trying to figure out the best way to get the van out of the river bed.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Craig's First Seizure Patient

We got toned out at 2330 for a person having seizures. We arrived on scene to find the patient laying on the ground outside of her house in the arms of her husband. They told us that she has a history of seizures and that she had one tonight. The husband tried to catch her as she fell but she did hit her head. As I questioned her to determine if I needed to put a cervical collar on her she had another seizure. I quickly drew up the Versed but before I could administer it she stopped. Before she came out of this seizure she lapsed into another one. This time I gave her the Versed and stopped the seizure activity. We placed her on a backboard as a precaution since she was not able to answer my questions. We then sent her down the hill to DMRC (Desert Regional Medical Center). The next day Craig took the time to call me and tell me how amazing it was to watch me stop a seizure. He had never been on a seizure call with a paramedic and watched them stop one. He thought that was pretty cool. Every once in a while we paramedics get some respect. It's nice to be elevated above "needle sticking fairy" status once in a while.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

My First Interview

Rescuers battle elements to get to injured woman

By Jimmy Biggerstaff
Hi-Desert Star
Published: Saturday, December 20, 2008 1:46 AM CST
MORONGO VALLEY — Emergency responders from several agencies fought rough weather conditions in the snow-covered hills west of Yucca Valley Thursday afternoon to rescue a patient with a broken hip. John Doe, firefighter/paramedic at the Morongo Valley Fire Station related that he received an emergency call a little before 3 p.m. for an 81-year-old female patient with a possible hip fracture on Ben Mar Trail off Hoopa Trail. “We responded with two four-wheel-drive engines and proceeded up the dirt road as far as we could go,” Doe said in a telephone interview Friday afternoon. “The brush engine got stuck about two miles before the house on the private, unmaintained roads,” Doe continued.

Engine two got stuck in snow and mud about a mile short of the destination. “At that point, my engineer (Eric Griffiths) and I grabbed what equipment we needed and exited the vehicle,” Doe explained.

“Then we hiked the rest of the distance to the residence in the snow up to our knees.”

The uphill hike in the snow took about 20 minutes. Upon arrival, the firefighters determined the patient had a suspected fracture. “We then decided the best way to extricate her from her surroundings would be by helicopter and called for sheriff’s air rescue to lift her out.

“We were given a one hour estimated time of arrival,” Doe said. “At that time we decided to fashion a sled with the residents who were up there, who supplied the firefighters with a four-by-eight-foot sheet of plywood.

“We drilled holes in it and used rope to pull it. We medicated the patient for pain and loaded her up in several blankets and laid her on a cot which we used to move her to the makeshift sled,” Doe said. “My engineer and I began to pull her toward the ambulance, which was about two miles away, maybe a little further.”

With Morongo Basin Ambulance paramedic Melissa Wharssler attending the patient, firefighters began pulling her down the hill on the makeshift litter. About a third of the way to the ambulance, as the sun was setting, the first helicopter showed up.

About the same time, firefighter Grant Grafius joined his colleagues to provide additional manpower.

“We then had the initial chopper come in to look at the area from above to determine the best area to extricate the patient,” Doe said. “Then the second helicopter showed up to perform the actual basket extrication.”

The aircrews informed the ground team they had to land the airships to swap manpower, changing the winch operator from the first to the second helicopter, which took about 20 minutes.

“By now the sun was down, it was dark and the temperature was dropping quickly,” Doe said.

The helicopters returned and the first provided illumination while the second lowered first a doctor and then a rescue litter called a Stokes basket to the ground.

“At that point we loaded the patient into the Stokes basket and strapped her in,” Doe said.

The helicopter lifted the patient up, then lowered a cable that the doctor clipped onto a harness to be winched into the aircraft.

The patient was flown to Loma Linda University.

The firefighters began the return trek down the canyon in the dark, then worked to get their vehicles unstuck. “It was a long call, a very cold call,” Doe concluded.

Meg Foley, general manager of the Morongo Valley Community Services District and Fire Department, described the rescue as, “A well-coordinated effort by several agencies under very adverse conditions. They sure did a good job.”

OOOHHH! Look What's On Sale....Marshmellows!

A while back one of the firefighters soaked me with a water extinguisher. This same firefighter, several weeks later, got another firefighter on my shift wet with the spray nozzle on the kitchen sink. This firefighter then mistakenly left his old boots at the station. This was payback.

One of the pranksters caught red handed.

The marshmallows are melting.


One down, one to go.

A work of art. We did get into a little trouble for this but it was worth it.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Once in a Lifetime Call

At about ten minutes before three we got toned out for a possible hip fracture. Eric and I looked at the map and quickly realized this wasn't going to be good. It was in the farthest, most remote, eastern area that we cover. We knew that the other canyons had several feet of snow covering them and assumed this would be the case here too. We were right.

This is the road that we turned onto from the highway. Someone had already tried this in a jeep and got it stuck (ahead on the left).

Engine 462 made it all the way to just past to this point and then lost traction. We slid into the embankment. We then managed to back it down so that we could get into the EMS cabinet. Eric and I grabbed all the gear that we deemed necessary and started to hike.

This was a miserable hike.

Here's Eric trudging along with the backboard and another EMS bag.

Where we came from.

It's hard to get yourself in a photograph without looking funny.

This is what we were hiking through most of the time. Makes for a cool photo but lousy hiking conditions.

About half way there one of the care takers met us and guided us in. Those are his tracks in the snow ahead of Eric. While hiking, Eric and I started discussing the options as to how we were going to get the woman out if she indeed needed to go to the hospital. We decided that we'd call for a helicopter. If there wasn't one available, we'd get creative.

Once we got there we found an 81 year old woman laying in bed. She stated that her right hip hurt after a fall from bed this morning. As I was doing my assessment Melissa (one of the medics from MBA) showed up. I assume that she hiked in from the ambulance, almost two miles away. While Melissa and I worked on the patient Eric called for the helicopter. He was told that there would be an hour to an hour and fifteen minute ETA and that the chopper didn't have a medic on board. That made me really excited.

We decided that since the hopper had such an extended ETA we'd try to get her out ourselves. We put the neighbors in charge of coming up with a make shift sled. They found a 4'x8' sheet of plywood and drilled a couple of holes in one end. We then wrapped it in poly so it would slide easier and attached a rope through the holes. After loading up the patient on some Morphine we wrapped her in two sheets and two comforters, loaded her on a folding flat and carried her out to the sled. Eric and I then got to play the part of a mule team while Melissa stayed with the patient.

Here we are. The patient in in that bundle of blankets on the board. Eric decided he liked the idea of straps like I have instead of just using ropes. It hurt less.

Here's a better shot of the sled. Melissa is in the background. The two neighbors are behind Eric.
About this time we called Grant and had him hike in for some extra manpower.

This was the first helicopter to show up. This was the one that was originally going to pick up the patient but they had launched a second chopper with a doctor and a medic on board.

The first helicopter found a suitable place for the pickup. It was "suitable" to them since they weren't dragging the patient up hill in deep snow.

This is one of my favorite shots. This is the helicopter that actually came in and grabbed my patient. Before they could do this the two helicopters had to fly to Yucca Valley airport and transfer the winch operator from one aircraft to the other. This took a long time.

Here is Melissa checking in on the patient. The patient was in great spirits the entire time.

Here Melissa is realizing a bad thing just happened...

Sunset. The temperature started to drop rapidly. It was bad enough that we started calling dispatch to get the helicopters to hurry.

Here's Grant dealing with the cold. Even in rough conditions we keep our sense of humor.

This was the last photo of the call. This is the helicopter, hovering 30 feet above us, lowering the Stokes basket. This experience brought on a new meaning of cold. We gave a quick report to doctor Lions and got the patient into the Stokes basket. By this time my hands had lost all sensation and I wasn't able to get the buckle fastened without multiple attempts. Once the patient was on her way to Loma Linda Medical Center we started our trek back to our rigs.

On our way back Eric informed us that after this call we were to go back to the station, have a nice warm shower, eat a good dinner, and watch House for the rest of the evening. Surprisingly, we did just that...without interruption. What a fun afternoon.

This was a short video clip I took while covering the patient.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

100 Year Snow Morongo Valley

According to some of the residents that live in Morongo Valley last week we had the worst snow storm in 100 years. People that come from snowy areas scoff at us for making a big deal about a couple of feet of snow (actually only a couple of inches at the station) but to them I say ppllttthhllttt!!! We're not used to snow. I bet your not used to earthquakes either! so back off.

What is looked like from the station just before sunrise.

White Christmas anyone?

Typical. It's about 25 degrees out and we're both in shorts. That didn't last too long.

Engine 462 was out all night babysitting some downed power lines, that's why it's covered in snow

This shot of the Joshua Tree is for my mom. She loves 'em.

I liked the cactus semi covered in snow.

In this shot you can see Grant waiting for Edison to come repair the power lines.

The smoke you see is the power line trying to burn some brush even though there is snow everywhere.

Monday, December 22, 2008

"Lidocaine Bomber"

During one of his exams Eric mixed up his drugs and gave a Lidocaine drip rate for Dopamine. Ever since that time he has been given a hard time by just about every paramedic that he knows about him giving Lidocaine. This was his response....The Lidocaine Bomber.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Fiesta Days Parade

Every year the community of Morongo Valley has a Fiesta Days parade and celebration. The parade is one of the shortest you can find. It took us two and a half minutes to travel the entire length of the parade route. The parade is short enough that we all go around the block and go through the route again. It's still fun to be a part of it.

The staging area for the parade is right in front of our station. You can see Grant cleaning up after one of the horses left a present.

Here we are in line. The wood chipper in front of us is dressed up like a horse.

A better view of the "horse."

Ashley got to escort Sparky around the parade. I felt sorry for them. They were right in front of the loudest siren in the Morongo Basin and they forgot their ear plugs

Sparky getting a ride back to the beginning of the parade.

Ashley gets a lot of crap from us because he has a large butt. His nickname is "donkey booty" and so when we saw that they had donkey rides we all chipped in and got him one. While he was riding away there were lots of comments like, "WOW! That's a lot of ass."

This is our dunk tank. This water clearly shows why we drink bottled water.

Yes, people got dunked into that gross water.
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