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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Calling For The Bird 
No, not that bird.

The tones went off for a traffic accident. We had the report of a motorcycle down on one of the canyon roads. This call started out like a lot of calls. We arrived at the reported location to find nothing. So we kept going. A couple miles down the road we found the accident.

The 25 year old rider said that he was being tailgated so he tried to go a little faster. That's evidently when he lost it. We found him laying on the side of the road in the dirt. Several bystanders had stopped to help. My patient had removed his helmet (even though he said he knew better from the combat corpsman training he had received while in the Navy). He said he didn't lose consciousness. His helmet was intact without much damage. His only real complaint was pain to his left hip. I quickly did an assessment to determine if we need a helicopter or if he was stable enough for the long transport to the hospital. Everything was looking like ground transport until I got to his pelvis. The patient was complaining of left hip pain and when I rocked his hips it really hurt. The decision was immediately made to land a helicopter. A patient could easily lose enough blood from a fractured pelvis to be life threatening.

Now that that decision was out of the way I continued my assessment. The young man also had decreased mobility and strength in the left leg.Other than that he was in fairly decent condition. After checking him for further injuries we packaged him up. As we were strapping him down to the backboard AMR showed up. We quickly loaded him into the back of the ambulance and headed up the canyon to the LZ. There, engine 52 and engine 97 (from a neighboring agency) had shut down the road and set up for the helicopter.

We were there waiting as the helicopter approached. The pilot circled around the valley once to gauge the winds and then settled into a landing pattern. We all had on our turnouts and helmets, with our goggles on. I flipped up the collar on my jacket as high as it would go and got ready to get pelted by debris. I'm sure that there were a lot of drivers that were stuck behind the big red road block that enjoyed the show.

This is the same type of aircraft that was on my call.

As the helicopter came in he was buffeted by some strong cross winds. When he finally did touch down it was only with 2 wheel. The road was a little too sloped in the spot that had been chosen and the pilot was reluctant to set the chopper all the way down. He tried 2 more attempts at the same spot. Each time he did I became more and more nervous. I kept getting visions of helicopter blades and fireballs flying into the air.

Statistically, flying on a medical helicopter is the most dangerous 
job in the country, It even trumps miners, loggers and fisherman. Read a 
couple articles from Popular Mechanics and  The Wall Street Journal 
that talk about the dangers.

After the third attempt the pilot told the CHP officer and the captain of engine 97 to move their vehicles. They were now in his landing zone. This time he was able to bring it in without much trouble. He did decide to shut the helicopter all the way down while loading the patient for some additional safety. A few minutes later the bird took to the air with our patient.

We cleared the call as soon as the helicopter was gone. We had ice cream back at the station that needed eating.

1 comment: said...

I love WATCHING the helicopters land on the helipad at the medical center. Helicopters have always been interesting to me. Actually considered being a flight nurse when I was much younger (and dumber!)

i knew a nurse from our ER who was killed on a helicopter transport call. Just devastating.

Enjoyed this post :)

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