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Monday, April 22, 2013

Like A Good Neighbor

The tones interrupted the morning check. We would be responding with whatever the previous crew left us. Thankfully their good about leaving things high and tight. We were responding with 3 engines, a rescue and a battalion chief for the report of a smoke coming from a neighbors house. The call was in the next district over but that crew was already out on a medical call. We were going to be first due.

Arriving on scene we saw very faint wisps of white smoke trailing over the backyard fence. My captain reported that truck 51 was on scene, very light smoke showing, and that we were investigating. While he was doing that I jumped off the rig and grabbed my Irons. I immediately headed for the side gate and then onto the backyard.

Once there I nearly scared an 80 year old woman to death. The poor woman was mowing her lawn and had, as a result, not heard the fire truck approach. As she finished her current pass of the yard she turned and saw me. She was understandably startled.

After the initial jolt and subsequent laugh she asked why we were there. I told her that someone had called 911 because of the large amounts of smoke that her lawn mower was putting off.

Having determined the cause of the smoke my captain canceled the balance of the call. I chatted a little more with the lady and found out she added too much oil to her fuel. Since the mower still ran on the rich gasoline she just went on cutting the grass. She never imagined that someone might call 911 on her.

Thank goodness for good neighbors that watch out for each other. Even if they do call 911 on the occasional lawn mower.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

I Didn't Know What To Do

I love good calls. One where someone actually needed help and we were able to provide it in a timely manner. This was one suck call.

The call interrupted our morning workout. We ran down the stairs to the apparatus bay and donned our bunker pants. As I hopped onto the rig the bay doors finished opening. Out in front of the station the morning traffic came to a stop leaving the "Do Not Block" area in front of our driveway open. As the doors closed behind us my engineer hit the siren.

Several blocks away an 8 year old boy was having trouble breathing. We found him upstairs in his house. His mother told us that he had been having some difficulty breathing for the last two day but today he was sent home from school. The young man had had several puffs on his inhaler and had taken a couple of nebulizer treatments without any relief. His mother said that she had tried everything and now didn't know what to do.

Fortunately she did the best thing for her kid. She called 911.

After an assessment we gave the little guy one of our breathing treatments. Not only do we have higher concentrations of albuterol but we also have other medications as well. By the time AMR showed up we had the boy breathing easier.

While AMR loaded the boy into the ambulance the mom approached us and actually apologized for having called 911. Can you believe that?! We assured her that this was exactly why we were hear and that she didn't have to wait so long in the future to call.

I love calls where we can make a difference.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


I don't often talk about products on my blog. But every once in a while I come across one that I think is good enough and important enough to be mentioned. This time it's an app for smart (both Android and Apple) phones and tablets called PulsePoint.

The app is linked up with local 911 dispatch centers. According to their website "the PulsePoint app empowers everyday citizens to provide life‐saving assistance to victims of Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA)."

Basically it works by notifying you if someone in your immediate area (according to your phones GPS location) is in need of CPR. This allows you to safely head over to the emergency and provide CPR while emergency responders are en route.

The app is also great for those people that were scanner junkies. The ones that would always be listening in to police and fire radio traffic. If your local department is part of PulsePoint (the list continues to grow all the time) you can see how busy your local fire station is and listen to radio traffic. You can also get alerts to various types of emergencies such as fires and traffic accidents.

If you do use Pulse Point and you are notified that someone needs your help, please respond in a safe and cautious manner.

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Real Finger Story

I was working an overtime shift at another station. The crew there likes to work out together. To get in their cardio workout they do basketball drills. Things like 20 lay ups on each hand while running back to the half court line each time.

So that morning  I joined in. I enjoy playing basketball but I'm horrible at it. So this was good practice at some of the fundamentals while getting in some exercise. Near the end of our workout a stray ball bounced my way. I grabbed it and tossed it back to my engineer. After that I noticed my finger was deformed and locked in a 90° bend at the second knuckle.

At that point it still didn't hurt. That wouldn't last. I asked my engineer to come pull my finger (no, an injury doesn't make me lose my sense of humor). He came over and gave it a tug. Not only did it not move, it now hurt. Undaunted by our initial failure we decided to try again. On the second try, success! My dislocated digit was relocated.

And as soon as I moved my pinky it snapped right back into that 90° bend. So I decided to do what any reasonable medic would do. I popped it back into place and taped it to my ring finger. What could possible be wrong with that? 

Over the next few hours the swelling and the pain worsened. Finally around 4 in the afternoon I decided I better go get the finger x-rayed. So we headed over to the local ER (also a trauma center) to get a looksee. After an hour the doc said my finger was not broken. All I had to do was keep it secure while it healed.


Several weeks later I was still nursing a painful and deformed finger. I checked with my own MD and he needed all of 2 seconds to diagnose my problem. A ruptured tendon. 

I had what is called a Boutonnière deformity.
Yes, that is my finger.
Several doctor appointments later I found myself laying on an operating table. This time I was not under full anesthesia. In fact, I was so lightly sedated that I was able to have coherent conversations with the surgical teams about Google and some of it's projects.

Mid way through the tendon repair the surgeon lowered the curtain that was blocking my view of what was going on. It looked really cool. The doc even took a picture for me. I've since learned that not all of my friends are as curious about what I look like on the inside. 

3 weeks later I'm on the mend. I still have a pin in my finger (which comes out in a week) and still have some pain but I think it's getting better.

© 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.

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