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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Man Down

It was our second medical aid in 20 minutes. We had just backed the engine into the station when the tones went off. Fortunately at 7 in the morning there's still not much traffic out on the streets. Most of the way through the residential neighborhood we just used our lights but not the siren.

We walked in and were directed to the bathroom. Unlike the guy that this medic found my guy was very much alive.

The previous night by patient went in to use the bathroom. As he was leaving he blacked out and collapsed on the floor. When the elderly gentleman came to he was unable to get himself off the floor. His wife found him the next morning and called us.

The patient had a history of back problems and back surgeries and always felt pain. He said that the pain was worse than normal but still located right at L5 where his previous injury was. We decided to lay him on his side on the backboard because of the pain laying on his back caused. There was no way he was going to tolerate bouncing around in the back of an ambulance like that.

We loaded the man onto the gurney and made sure AMR didn't need anything else. Then we headed back to the station just in time for shift change. It was family time.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Shots Fired

It's been less than a week since the tragedy in Aurora, CO. It's been a hot topic at the fire house just like everywhere else. But here we talk about what we would do in that situation. How would we respond? What can we learn from those that responded that day? Would we be ready?

We were across the street getting lunch. We had placed our order at a great little restaurant and were waiting for our food when we heard engine 57 (from the neighboring district) get dispatched on a medical call. The follow up information is what got us out of our seats and headed that way. Dispatch had engine 57 stage because there were reports of shots fired at the mall.

Immediately the worst case scenario starts running through my mind. Multiple victims, triage tags, ICS, sucking chest wounds, etc. 

When we arrived on scene we met the IC at the staging point. Within a couple minutes an officer came over and filled us in. One of the stores in the mall had been robbed at gunpoint and shots were fired. At this point no victims had been identified. 

A few minutes later we were cleared from the scene. Thankfully we still don't know what the first responders in Aurora had to do.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Fights On

Where were you last Thursday morning just before 5? My patient was drunk, stoned, and crying while leaning on the side wall of 7 Eleven. PD had called us out when she wasn't acting right.

We started talking to her and were able to get some information about her but not what had happened to her. She was definitely altered. All seemed to be going well until AMR showed up. Then our patient decided to stop cooperating. She kept calling us cops and saying that she did nothing wrong. We all tried explaining to her that she was just going to the hospital to get checked out but she wasn't having any of it. Having her mother show up on scene didn't calm her down either.

Since she was altered we couldn't just leave her there. Our hands were tied. She wouldn't let us do an assessment and had stopped talking to us except to yell at us. So with the help of the AMR crew and the officers we tried to pick up our patient and place her on the gurney. She was quite the fighter.

I held both her arms above her head on the gurney while everyone else tried to strap down her legs. It was almost comical to watch my crew get tossed around. That was until she started spitting at us. Thankfully PD had a spit mask (a mask designed to keep spitting people from spitting on us) and they got it on her quickly. Within a few minutes we were able to get the young woman restrained and on her way to the hospital.

Afterward, while talking with her mother, we found out that her daughter had been drinking and smoking pot. Her mother didn't know if she had had anything else or if the pot had been laced with something. Whatever it was a few hours in the ER with some fluids should help.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

HAZardous MATerials Response

The tones woke me from a deep slumber. We were being toned out for a HAZMAT response with engine 59 in their district. Before we made it out of the barn the radio crackled. It was engine 59 saying that they could handle the initial response without us. The location of the call was a large bakery. I know that most of you probably just pictured a bakery where you might buy a specialty cake. But I want you to think of that bakery being the size of a Costco. We go there from time to time and it's usually a false alarm.

So with sleepy eyes and grateful hearts we dismounted and padded back up to our dorms. I was unconscious as soon as my head hit my pillow. zzzzzzzzz.......

The tones woke me up again. At least this time it wasn't from a deep sleep. We were being dispatched, along with engine 57, engine 60, our HAZMAT team and our BC to assist engine 59 with an ammonia leak. An ambulance was also dispatched for 2 patients with exposure issues.

We were second on scene but engine 59 had done everything. The building had been evacuated and isolated and the 2 patients were being treated. We just had to wait for the cavalry to arrive.

HAZMAT calls are not like most things we respond to. The pace is much slower and more methodical. Understandably so since the materials we might be dealing with have some very serious hazards. One of the things we have to consider with gases is the direction of the wind and what is downwind.

Once everyone was on scene a plan was formulated. Two members of the team would make entry into the area and test for ammonia levels and shut off the valves. When they came out and said that the levels were lethally high. They were able to shut off the valve and were simply letting the room air out through an outside door.

During this time the media showed up. While the BC prepared for his live interview for the morning news it was decided that we should put up some caution tape. That way things would look more official and controlled on the news.

Firefighters usually don't like to be on TV. Fortunately we were able to confirm that the room was clear and pick up everything before the news crew were ready to film.

Back at the station we watched as our incident made top headlines. They had film footage from earlier of our rigs and the ambulance and would cut back and forth from that to our BC being interviewed. When all was said and done it was a good call. Both patients were treated and released. The leak was mitigated and no one was injured.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Little Humbling

While I was working an overtime shift I stopped at a local sandwich shop to grab lunch. I had shown up just in time because a long line soon formed behind me (and no I wasn't taking that long to decide).

After paying I made way toward the exit. In line was a woman with her 12 year old daughter and her daughters friend. As I passed them the shouted, "Thank you for being a fireman!" That's humbling. At least it is to me.

All I could say was thank you for letting me serve you. I have the best job in the world and I get compensated well for it. What else can be said?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


We were responding for a patient having "diabetic problems." While this can mean that they have elevated blood sugar levels it almost always means the opposite.

We were met at the front door by an elderly woman. She was a hoverer. You know, the type of person that hovers around you looking over your shoulder. To make matters worse, she was a nurse.

As she led us down the hallway to the bedroom she gave us a good report. She had last seen her husband a couple of hours before when he went down for a nap. He had had a good breakfast and they checked his sugar afterward. When she found him cool, clammy and unresponsive she knew immediately that his glucose levels had dropped.

While we continued with our assessment AMR showed up. I heard the wife in the background saying that the only place to get an IV was in his thumb. The problem was that the thumb in question was not really accessible in the position he was in. That and the vein really wasn't that good.

While the AMR medic went for a line in his right hand I went for one in the left. Wouldn't you know it, just as I advance the catheter the unresponsive patient jerks his arm. I committed a rookie mistake and wasn't ready for it. I lost the vein.

The AMR medic glanced up at the patients neck. He had great jugular veins, just like the one in the picture. I stabilized the head while she went in with an 18 gauge needle. Then the old RN started in on us again. "You're going for the jugular? What are the qualifications of the person doing that?"

We assured her that we watched the training video at least twice and that her husband was in good hands. The AMR medic then started the IV. We taped the line down and started administering some dextrose. Within a few minutes my patient was having a conversation with us and was being told not to move his neck too much.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

She Is Healed

We pulled up and parked in front of one of the local churches. Things seemed a bit hectic for a woman that just passed out. PD was there doing something (what, I don't know) and there were several people from the church outside to direct us.

Inside we found a small knot of people. At the center of the group there was an 18 year old woman sitting on the floor. She was leaning on the legs of a man that couldn't have been much older than her. He had his hands on her head and kept mumbling what I assume were prayers.

I don't like doing assessments in these situations. If I were on an ambulance I would have loaded the patient up without doing much on scene. Unfortunately I didn't have that option. Every time I asked a question at least one person other than my patient answered. It took several requests but I finally got through to them that I needed the patient to answer.

The patient was complaining of trouble breathing. Her respiratory rate was in the mid 30's. She was a little tachycardic but all her other vitals checked out. She had a history of anxiety and had recently been having some stressful events going on at home. She also had tingling to her lips and finger tips. All the classic signs of a panic attack.

We coached her on her breathing. Slow, deep inhales and exhales. To help her relax we got her talking about something totally different. It's amazing how distracting someone can really help them. Finally AMR showed up.

As we stood her up to have her sit on the gurney the man that had been praying (again, an assumption) stood, raised his hands above his head, and loudly proclaimed, "Praise the Lord! Praise the power of prayer! She is healed!"

At that my engineer and I shared a glance. It was the equivalent of an eye roll but sly enough that you wouldn't know it without knowing us. Part of me wonders if they set the entire thing up for a show of faith. Probably not but I wouldn't put it past them.

Hehehe. "She is healed." That saying went on for a while with our crew.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Penetrating Trauma

We pulled out from the driveway as the apparatus bay doors started to close. Dispatch immediately raised us on the radio, "Truck 51, possible GSW, staging required."

We pulled up to the gate to the apartment complex. It was one that we visit quite often and we knew more or less where the apartment was. PD had swarmed the location managing to block all entrances with empty patrol cars. I hopped off the truck to see if one of the cruisers was unlocked so I could move it. No such luck.

A few minutes later we received an all clear notice. One of the officers ran out to move some vehicles to allow us access. We pulled in and went around to the back of the complex. I grabbed the medical equipment and looked for the right apartment. Through an open window I saw a couple of uniforms so I headed in that direction.

Once in the apartment I was directed to the front bedroom. Inside an officer somberly shook his head indicating the the suicide attempt had been successful. Rounding the corner of the bed the officer asked me to be careful of the shell casing on the ground for evidence. The 30 year old male was laying on his right side.

I checked for a pulse and breathing just to be sure. I then inspected the wound a little closer. This wasn't morbid curiosity. I was looking for brain matter because its presence would mean we wouldn't be working the mega code. In other words no life saving measures would be done. There was brain matter in several places on the body and the bed. As a matter of protocol my engineer placed the electrodes of the monitor onto the body. We watched as the line on the monitor, that would normally be making predictable jerks up and down, lay flat.

I  called it. Time of death, 2032.

Outside another officer took down our names and unit number. My engineer and I quietly continued our conversation that had been interrupted by the call while my captain finished some paperwork. The scene was turned over to the cops and the coroner was called. We headed back to the station, ready for another call.
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