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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Should Have Called Sooner

Most calls that come in to our 911 system are really non emergent. I'm sure the people calling think that it's an emergency or at least I'd like to think that they do but in all reality, most of our calls are just the adult version of what I do for my 2 year old. A band-aid and a proverbial kiss to make everything better. It's psychological treatment. Every once in a while though we get a call that should have come much sooner.

While preparing lunch the tones went off (you ever notice that a lot of my calls happen at meal time? Maybe it just seems that way). We were responding to a known address. The woman there had breathing problems and called fairly frequently. Enough that I knew the address when I heard it.

This time, as we approached the door, we were greeted by the woman, not her husband. Strange. I asked what was going on and she said she thought her husband was having a stroke.

Going through my assessment I noted that she had first noticed his symptoms (drooling, facial droop and slurred speech) about 8 hours earlier. Her husband had also had a stroke about a year before but on the opposite side. She didn't call earlier because she thought the symptoms would go away after a nap.

Unfortunately for him they had waited too long. There is only a small window of time during which we can administer thrombolytics (clot busting drugs). My patient was now well beyond that. There wouldn't be much that they could do for him at the stroke center. There was even less that we could do. We were reassuring as we could be and transported him to the hospital as soon as we could.

We also spent a little time educating the wife. We stopped short of saying that she should have called sooner but we did encourage her not to wait next time. When it comes to CVA's, waiting can cause permanent disability.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Stupid Drivers, A Real Danger

We pulled out of the station with our lights flashing. As the tailboard cleared the apparatus door my engineer hit the remote control closing the door.

This station is in a residential neighborhood. We turned left onto the small street. As we approached the main road through town the growler started to wail. My engineer had to come to a complete stop at the uncontrolled intersection to wait for traffic to stop. The traffic to our left stopped (shocking I know) and we started to pull into the intersection to clear the other side.

It was about then that the woman driving in the #1 lane decided that she no longer wanted to stop for us. She drove across the intersection and were it not for the yells of stop by my captain the old lady would now have a giant imprint of the bumper of our fire engine in the side of it.

Sometimes getting across the street from the station can be the most dangerous part of the job.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Helmet Cam Rescue (Unedited)

Video from a helmet camera taken during a structure fire. The Alameda County Fire Department rescued three kids from the apartment.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Helmet Cam Rescue

Here are a couple of links about the rescue of several children and their mother all caught by a helmet camera.

CBS in San Fransisco

ABC in San Fransisco

Right this Minute

Great save!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Start The Helo

"Engine 59, medic 149, you're responding for a 2 year old female with hot oil in her eyes."

Oh crap! In my district we are about a 30 minute drive from a couple different hospitals that are capable of handling a critically burned pediatric patient. That's 30 minutes, if there's no traffic (did I mention that I work in California, in a major metropolitan area? We practically invented traffic). And of course it was 4:30 in the afternoon on a Friday. How bad could traffic be?

I had an overtime captain that day that wasn't familiar with the area. I suggested to him that we start a helo. He called dispatch and asked for Life Flight to be dispatched and for another engine crew to land the bird.

While we were responding to the call I was trying to envision how bad this kid could be and possible treatments that would be needed. I would find out later that the medics at AMR were busy looking at patient destinations and treatment protocols. I guess we all react in a similar way to dispatches like that.

As we walked up to the door there wasn't the feeling of panic that I expected to see/feel. Through the screen door I found the patient's mother crouching down and crying next to her child. The little girl was just standing there. Her eyes were a little red and looked as if she had been crying. But she was no longer crying. I was a bit confused.

The mom, through her tears, explained that her daughter had put an ointment (similar to Tiger Balm) used for sore muscle in her eyes. The mom had called 911 and then thoroughly rinsed out her daughter's eyes.

We canceled the helicopter but still transported the girl to the hospital just in case there was some more permanent damage done. Afterward we all agreed that this call could have been a lot worse.
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