Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Monday, July 26, 2010


The busiest day of  the year for firefighters is the 4th of July. Lots of fireworks, dry brush and careless people keep us busy. I worked the 4th but didn't have any fire calls. My little grass fire was the next day.

We were dispatched for a grass fire along side the freeway. As we travelled toward the freeway we could see a small column of smoke start to rise. We followed the frontage road and came up to the fire. The only thing slowing us down was a 6 foot tall chain link fence. We threw the 10 foot roof ladder up against the fence and I scurried over. My engineer handed me the reel line and I went to work. In about 30 seconds most of the fire was knocked down. Along with another engine crew we spent the next 30 minutes mopping up and making sure that there wouldn't be a rekindle.

After getting back to the station we had just about enough time to drink a glass of water before the tones went off again. This time we were responding for a dumpster fire. Someone decided to emtpy their hot BBQ charcoals into the dumpster. All we did was flood the dumpster and call it good.

The fires were small (one wasn't really a fire) but it still is better than nothing.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

BS Comes Out At Night

I've mentioned this before but I'm going to repeat it. I hate getting up at night for BS. I know, I know. It's part and parcel of the profession I chose so I shouldn't be whining. I don't care. I get to complain on my blog.

The other night we had to get up a couple of times, just spaced apart enough that it really destroyed a large chunk of the night. The first call came in around 0030 for a woman with back pain. I've always been very aggressive about pain management but even more so after my bout with gall stones. Pain sucks. Still, preliminaries on my BS meter were rather high. Turns out that our patient was actually having moderate back pain. It was a chronic condition for which she regularly took pain medication. Two weeks ago my patient ran out of her prescription pain meds and hadn't bothered to refill it. So she waits two weeks and then, at half past midnight, decides to call 911. Not because the pain had dramatically worsened. No, that would be a cause for concern. She just wanted to go get her prescription refilled.

Lady! You waited 2 weeks, you could at least wait another 7 hours. Of course I didn't say least not to her. Maybe she'll read this blog someday.

So after getting back to the station and back to sleep, another wonderful person in need called for us. This time it was an 85 year old man that had recently undergone cataract surgery. He his eye felt "stupid" and "wierd." He said he had felt this way all afternoon and evening. Once the ambulance arrived he got up and walked downstairs to the rig.

I'm glad we could be there for him, at 0200, when he finally decided that the thing that had been bothering him all day was now an emergency.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Upset 19 Year Old

"I wanted to get a good night sleep." That's what she said was the reason she took 3000mg of Advil (not Advil PM). Really? She then posted about it on Facebook and couldn't understand why her friends had called us. And to top it off she now felt like throwing up.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Losing Two Fights In One Day

We responded to an apartment a couple blocks away. The sister of the patient called us because she saw her 25 year old brother come home looking like he had lost a prize fight with Evander Holyfield. She also noticed that he could barely walk. We arrived to find PD standing in the hallway talking to our patient through a locked door. And, shockingly (statement dripping with sarcasm), the brother was angry. According to his sisters he was jumped by a group of guys at a party the night before.

After 10 minutes of trying to get him to open the door PD picked the lock (not a difficult task because it was a lock that you could open with a coin).

Once PD had a few words with him they asked us to come down and evaluate him. The young man was laying on his bed, arms wrapped around his blanket, in stubborn refusal. He told us that he was hit and kicked in the head but that he was fine. After several minutes of arguing, he agreed to stand up so that we could see the extent of his injuries. As he tried to stand up he nearly knocked over one of the police officers. He couldn't stay vertical for more than a few seconds. He quickly resumed his position on the bed. We were informed that there was no way he was going to the hospital. He also said that he couldn't remember things from the night before such as the location of the incident.

We tried to reason with the guy. We told him that we had a legal obligation to evaluate him before we left or we would have to take him to the hospital. I think it's a little bit funny when someone thinks that they can over power 3 firemen, 2 cops and 2 paramedics. I mean seriously. If it got real nasty the cops could tase the guy or we could sedate him (say nighty night). I digress.

Eventually we had to restrain him and put him into full spinal precautions. There were a lot of obscenities used as he tried to fight us off. We also had to calm down his little brother and explain why we were taking such actions. Because of his violent tendencies, I got to ride to the hospital with AMR.

Once in the back of the bus he was still being belligerant. I made a deal with him. If he would behave and let us evaluate him and start an IV on him I would release his arm from the restraints. I wasn't sure if he was going to uphold his end of the bargain. Surprisingly he did. He mellowed out. I was able to do everything that I needed to do. Had he been this cooperative back at his house we probably would have let him stay there. I told him what to expect from the doctors and nurses, that they would be doing much of the same stuff that we already had done, but he needed to do it again. And I told him not to lie. If he remembers something but doesn't want to talk about it, say exactly that.

Once we had transferred him to the hospital bed my punching bag of a patient apologized to us. He ended up being quite a different patient from the one we had to wrestle.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Fair Folk

The county fair is in town. This means overtime to staff the fair grounds with an engine. Some firefighters hate this assignment with a passion. I don't think it's that bad. I got paid to go to the fair. Sure, the hours are long, it's hot and the food is ever so slightly overpriced ($5.00 for a Icee).

But it is fun to people watch.

There are a surprising number of medical incidents at something like a fair. They can vary in size and severity. At this fair in days and years past they've had shootings, malfunctioning rides that injure a dozen people, cows stepping on and crushing feet, fires, run of the mill medical aids, environmental emergencies, injured jockeys at the horse track, full arrests and MCI's caused by swarms of hornets. It's like having a one station department to serve tens of thousands of people that have no where else to go.

The first day I worked was an eventful one. We treated something like 10 people for bee stings. We passed out countless band aids, sun block and ibuprofen. We had calls for several drunks, a couple of slip and falls and quite a few heat related problems. We also had a horse go down during a race and toss the jockey. The jockey got the wind knocked out of him and had some numbness in his lower extremities. The horse had to be put down.

Not everything we did at the fair was an emergency response. The fair also gave us a great opportunity for PR. We, of course, had our fire engine there. We gave tours of the engine (people of all ages were excited to be able to sit in the driver's seat) and handed out stickers, hats and tattoos. It was a lot of fun to be able to talk with people and answer their questions.

It's definitely a change of pace. It's not a bad assignment but I'm glad the fair is only in town once a year.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Independence Day

My wife recently entered some of our photos into a contest. The theme was Americana. Here are some of my favorites.

My daughter at an air show several years ago.

The canopy of an F-22 (the pilot is a civilian, you can tell because he has no rank by his name).

For those that know me personally this one needs no comment!

BBQ hamburgers. As American as you can get.

Friday, July 2, 2010

An Evening Ride

Imagine yourself out on an evening bicycle ride. You are cycling down a well traveled two lane road. The canyon in which you are riding unwinds before you like a snake. The air is warm. You're feeling good. Your daily jaunt is going smooth and traffic is fairly light.


Something happened. You are confused. Why is there a girl standing over you holding your head? What happened? She tells you that you were in an accident.


Something happened. You are confused. Why is there a firefighter standing over you? He asks your name. You tell him. He asks you how old you are. You don't know but you remember that you were born in 1960. The firefighter then asks if you hurt anywhere. Now that he mentions it you are in pain. Your head aches. Your neck is tender. Your right arm really hurts.

What happened?

The firefighter asks you to tell him if anything he touches hurts. He then, systematically, goes from your head to your toes checking your entire body. You ask him what happened. He tells you that you were hit by a car. They strap you to a hard board and load you into the back of an ambulance. You can hear the muffled sounds of the siren as the ambulance heads for the trauma center.


Engine 51, Truck 110, respond for a vehicle accident, auto vs pedestrian at about mile marker 4.8.

Dinner would have to wait. Siren wailing, we started down the canyon. A 26,000 pound engine does not corner very well. It wasn't exactly slow going but we weren't breaking any records. As we drove on dispatch informed us that CHP had yet to find anything. We were just about to inform dispatch that we were UTL when we rounded a corner and found a group of people waving at us.

It was hard to tell at first if the cyclist was wearing a red jersey or if he was covered in blood. It proved to be the latter. As I approached my patient I saw that he was breathing and alert. There was also a young woman holding his head in such a way as to suggest she had some EMS training. I asked her if she was comfortable continuing what she was doing and she said yes. That was good enough for me and I asked her to continue what she was doing.

I quickly performed a head to toe assessment. The victim had some pretty bad road rash all over his body. His right ear was partly avulsed and bleeding pretty good. His neck was tender to the touch but there was no deformity or crepitus. His right forearm was also broken. The cyclist had no recollection of the accident. He also repeated questions, indicative of head trauma. Lucky for him he was wearing a helmet.

We quickly packaged him up onto a backboard and loaded him into the ambulance.While cleaning up our gear I asked the young woman what type of training she had. She said that she had just finished an introductory course to nursing and EMS. I asked her which she wanted to pursue now that she had had a little taste of EMS. The answer was obvious. Her father, who was also there, was beaming with pride that his little girl was able to help.

According to CHP the driver of the car that hit him (who had refused to talk to us) wreaked of alcohol. As we left the scene she was failing a field sobriety test.

When I think of this call the mental image that comes to mind is not of the cyclist with his battered body. It's not the damaged car or bike. It's the sight of the soil mixed with blood marking the spot where my patient waited for me.
© FireMedic and Firefighter/Paramedic Stories, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to FireMedic and Firefighter/Paramedic Stories with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP