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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.
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