Saturday, July 26, 2008

Northern Exposure

I am off to catch a flight today and start a new adventure. The plan was to get a lot of entries done before I left and take advantage of Blogger's scheduled posting options, but of course that didn't happen. I don't know what my internet capabilities will be, so there probably won't be any updates for a while. Let's just say the next five weeks will include working without a CT scanner, Air medical transport flights, and meeting up with "The Phoenix" for bear viewing, hiking and kayaking!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Striking Out

Thankfully, with July has come the end of the workplace softball season. I think we actually ended up forfeiting the last two games due to lack of interest. Unlike the record number of injuries last year (my eye, a broken nose, and a broken HAND) for slow-pitch softball, this year's injuries were pretty tame. One of my co-workers dislocated his knee, and another one strained an already bad shoulder, but that was pretty much it.

I was somehow elected team catcher again, despite any actual talent. I did wear a mask at all games as Army Guy declared there would be no dating in public if I managed to bang up my face again. Unfortunately, due to scheduling difficulties, I was available to play almost every single game.

Most of the games were mercy-ruled. We did actually win one game, but it was because the other team had to forfeit when one of their teammates had a seizure as she was standing at first base. At the time of the forfeit, they were already creaming us 6-0 in spite of already taking an automatic out in the lineup for not having enough female players.

A few of us have suggested that next year, we just meet weekly for beer, and forget about this whole softball mess beforehand. Maybe we'll have a bowling team, or better yet, darts-- that would at least make for more interesting injuries!

Monday, July 21, 2008


Every now and then, unique opportunities present themselves at work. This past weekend I helped staff an all-day rock concert. We worked for free (I'm sure someone got paid somewhere, but it wasn't me!), keeping the air-conditioned first-aid building a revolving door of heavily-tattooed drunk punks walking in and out. It was a rock/alternative concert, so naturally there was an all-day mosh pit that kept us busy. Paramedics on ATVs regularly brought in the vomiting and wounded.

For the most part, the patients were all drunk. There's nothing more annoying than telling a drunken fool to hold still while you stitch up their ungrateful face with a portable spotlight in a garage for lighting.

ME: "You need stitches."

DRUNK DUDE/CHICK: "I don't want stitches."

ME: "Well then, you can walk out and tomorrow wonder why your face is such a mess."

DD/C: "Fine, put them in. Ow! OW!!!! OWWWW!!!!!! I F***'N HATE GETTING STITCHES!!!"

ME: "Shut up, that was just the betadine."

There were a few serious injuries-- someone got run over by a car and another landed on his head and may have had a neck fracture. Most of the stuff was pretty simple. Our only capabilities were starting IVs and suturing. We were supposed to have been supplied with some Tylenol and Motrin, but ended up not having anything other than nebulizers for asthmatics and antiemetics. Oh well. Anyone with a loss of consciousness, possible fractures, or vague complaints that couldn't be evaluated got shipped out. A full-term pregnant woman came in actively contracting, but she wasn't actively delivering, so we shipped her out, too.

There were 12,000 concert attendants and I think we treated 78 patients. There's a formula for figuring out how many medical providers are needed to cover large-scale events. It's a pretty rough guideline though, because there's no way to really plan for large-scale pandemonium, like when a stage collapses on people or there's a fire/chemical exposure. Our coverage was exellent, and the day was relaxed enough that we took turns walking around the grounds and enjoying the bands. A mid-concert rain shower made for a lot of mud, but kept the temperature cool enough that despite all-day beer guzzling at an outdoor venue, we didn't see too much dehydration.

I stuck close to my attending on breaks because he was well-known to all of the security guys. They let us up right in front of the stage. We were behind the security guard barrier, so it was hilarious watching them catch crowd surfers all night long, and release them back to the masses. I can't imagine the workout from grabbing drunk adults and setting them down safely on the ground hour after hour.

I took these pictures with my cellphone, so they're pretty crappy, but you get the idea.

The music was great, so it made dealing with all of the drunk people worth it. The headliners were Shinedown, Seether, and Three Days Grace. We people-watched from in front of the stage for some of Shinedown and most of Three Days Grace's performance. I could hear most of Seether's songs from standing outside the medical station. Luckily, even drunk people wait through good music to seek medical treatment.

Three Days Grace:
More Three Days Grace:

I think I saw more than enough tattoos and belly flab to get me through the next year. There were a few young women who needed assistance from security getting their shirts and bikini tops back on. I gave my single guy buddy a hard time for missing out on the concert! It was entertaining just watching random shoes and water bottles flying though the air of the crowd.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Short Visit

My parents were in town last week for a quick visit. They took a large detour to come here on their way to the annual family reunion. We spent the few days I had off work exploring and driving around. They also met Army Guy for the first time. I hadn't seen them since Christmas, and I'm not sure when the next time I will fly back home will be. It was good to see them, but hectic working my shifts around their stay. Luckily, they are low-maintenance folks that are just as content to explore bookstores in my neighborhood and spend days lounging around my house reading.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Sympathy for the Devil

The other day, an EMS crew dumped a guy on one of our trauma stretchers. He was on a backboard, so we did the usual stuff as far as stripping him down, looking for injuries and asking him a whole bunch of questions. I can always get a bit of a hint from EMS about the patient. If the patient's been difficult, they pretty much transfer them over and take off before you can get any questions in. If the patient's injuries are interesting, or if they like the patient, they tend to stick around through our initial assessment and x-rays. This was clearly a case of dump-and-run.

This guy was a motorcyclist that rear-ended a stopped vehicle and went flying over the handlebars. He was wearing a helmet, and supposedly stood up and was walking around on scene, but now was complaining of some rib pain and difficulty breathing. As we were checking him out, his main concern was that we didn't cut up his black leather vest. Fine.

So, I continued looking for injuries. There wasn't a mark on him, but he had an interesting collection of tattoos. On one arm was an Irish flag with swastikas, on the other side big letters (in Old English script) that said, "Death to the Queen!" I felt the need to ask him which queen was out of his favor... apparently it's the one in England. He countered with a series of questions about my heritage, and I would have loved to tell him I was English, but my last name kind of gives away my background.

We continue on with the questioning, and there's not any telling marks on his body for injury. His chest x-ray in the trauma bay is negative, but he's complaining of a lot of pain, so we get him ready for a catscan. At this point, he tells me that he doesn't want to be given any blood because "It's against my religion." His vitals are stable, so I tell him that I don't think that's going to be an issue.

One of the nurses asks him if he's a Jehovah's Witness, and he says, "No, I'm a devil worshipper." This causes one of our nurses to cock an eyebrow and reflexively make the sign of the cross across his chest. "And I don't want any salt, either," snarls the patient.

Drip.... drip... drip..

"I don't plan on giving you any salt." I tell him.

Drip.... drip... drip..

"Saline, I mean, I don't want anything with salt in it," he adds.

Drip.... drip... drip..

"What's wrong with a little salt? The only reason it's in the saline is to make it more balanced with the electrolytes in your blood. If I put water into your veins, it would leach out all of your electrolytes and make you very sick," I try to rationalize.

Drip.... drip... drip..

"I don't care. Salt is used in Christian ceremonies like baptisms and weddings, and I can't have any of it in my body. I don't ever eat it, and I don't want any saline!" he protests.

Drip.... drip... drip..

"Ok sir, if you don't want the saline, I can stop it, but I should probably let you know that it's been running since the medic put that IV in your arm, and you've gotten almost a full liter of the stuff."

"WAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!! TURN! IT! OFF!!!! WAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!" he screamed, and started thrashing around.

So the fluids got turned off. The rest of his time was pretty uneventful. CT scans were negative for any fractures or pnemothoraces and he went home. His blood pressure and heart rate stayed within normal range, so he didn't need any more fluid or blood products and he went home. One of his matching vest-wearing buddies showed up for moral support, and before he went home, a Hispanic woman showed up with his 6 year-old son. With all the swastikas, I was kind of surprised that the guy spoke a little Spanish and would have a minority taking care of his child. I always find it odd that people that are obviously born and raised in this country still carry around predjudices from generations ago (Ireland vs England). Then again, since I don't have any tattoos, I always have the expectation that if you are willing to have something permanently scored onto your flesh, that it has some meaning for you, and I suppose that is not necessarily true, either.