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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Ending It

I'll warn you now, this post may be a bit graphic. But it represents a part of my job and I post it so that others who may be interested in a job in the fire service or EMS can better understand what they are in for.

At the very beginning of the shift the tones went off. At times like that you hope that all your equipment was left in good shape by the preceding crew.  Especially on calls like this one.

We were responding for a full arrest. PD had received a 911 call stating that a person had hung themselves. The call was in the neighboring district (engine 110 was out on another call) so we had a longer response time than usual.

We pulled up and parked behind a couple of police cars. The officers in our city are great. They have no problem responding to critical medical calls and getting in and helping where they can. One of the officers came out and met us. He informed us that only I, the medic, needed to go in. This told us that I was simply determining death and that there was no need for everyone to go in and disturb a potential crime scene.

Inside I found another officer taking photos for his investigation. On the floor was the body of a man in his late 30's. Rigor mortis had set in and it didn't allow his body to lay completely flat on the floor. Because he was in rigor determination of death was made, 0752 hours.

Looking closer at the face of the man I could see that it was distorted. The officer stopped taking pictures for a second to explain that he had walked in and found the man hanging from the pull up bar in the doorway to his bedroom. He had used a leather belt to do it. The belt had slid up around the cheeks and the face "froze" in that position after death. The bar was to low for the man to hang completely so his legs seemed to be dragging on the floor behind him.

The worst part of this entire call was that the dead man's mother was the one to find him. She walked out in the morning and there he was. We contacted a clergyman from a local church to come and comfort the old lady. We then cleared ourselves from the call in case we were needed for another emergency but stayed with the mom until the clergyman arrived.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

No Relaxing

All of the chairs were pushed back out of the way and the table had been moved near the wall. In the middle of the conference room was our patient. He was sitting on a chair cradling his left arm. 

I introduced myself and asked him what had happened. He said that during a meeting he had leaned back in his chair and stretched both of his arms toward the ceiling (I guess is was a boring meeting). During mid stretch his left arm popped out of its socket.

I asked if he had ever dislocated his shoulder before. He hadn't. He had no medical history and wasn't taking any medications. But he was in a lot of pain.

After starting an IV I gave him some morphine. My patient felt much better after that. So much so that he started cracking jokes. Hr started asking if I would write a note to his wife stating that his injury would preclude him from changing any diapers for the next 6-8 weeks.

Good luck with that one.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Better Days

My blog post "50mg of Benadryl And Some Morphine" is about one of my frequent flyers. Thankfully she hasn't been calling lately.

The other day we were doing inspections in our area and we walked by her apartment. She happened to open the door as we walked by and she struck up a conversation with us. We remarked that we hadn't seen her in a while. She laughed and responded that she was doing a little better these day. She looked like she was doing better.

Hopefully doesn't slip up. I don't want to start running calls on her again.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Vegetation Response? In My District?

At 11:30 some unfamiliar tones went off at my station. They were the tones for a vegetation fire. We have almost no "wildland" in my district to burn so we were a bit confused. Really the only places that would fall into that category are the areas right along the freeway and along side the railroad tracks. Armed with this knowledge I decided to just don my structural firefighting pants and boots and to throw on my wildland jacket.

Once in the truck dispatch informed us that we were responding for a small vegetation fire on the side of the freeway. No big deal. The biggest danger there is working along side rubberneckers driving and texting while doing 75mph. Then dispatch gave us another update. There were reports of a vehicle on fire as well.

Now I was really happy that I had chosen to use my turnout pants. In the back of the rig I swapped my wildland jacket for my turnout jacket and slipped into my BA. I was now ready for the car fire.

While getting on the freeway we could see smoke showing about a mile down the road. But the smoke was all wrong. Instead of the thick black smoke of a car fire it was the much lighter colored smoke of a grass fire. As we pulled up I realized I was way over dressed for this call.

There was a small fire about 100' across. I dropped my SCBA and stretched out the hose line on the bumper. I started at the edge of the roadway and quickly worked my away around the head of the fire. While I was knocking it down there another crew (from Engine 110) started fighting the fire from the other side. Within a couple of minutes the fire was out and we started hunting down and cooling off hot spots.

We found out afterward that CalTrans had put down some road flares to warn people of the sweeper train ahead of them. A car ran over a flare and kicked it out into the brush causing the fire. That's how the vehicle was involved in the fire.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Done With Life

The call came in as a wellness check. We were dispatched along with PD to the house of a single elderly woman. Her brother had talked to her on the phone and he didn't think she sounded ok. When he hung up the phone he called 911.

PD arrived first. When they knocked on the front door there was no answer. As they went around to the side of the house they heard moaning. They went back to the front door and kicked it in (in the past they've waited for us assuming incorrectly that we would do something different).

Inside they found that it was a hoarder house. Piles of trash, papers, boxes.....just stuff all over the place. There were trails leading to the different rooms. They followed the path that led to what would have been a living room. There on the floor they found the patient. They decided to wait for us before doing anything else.

My patient was an 80 year old woman. She was alert and oriented. She said that she was sore from laying on the ground in the same spot for so long but other than that had no real medical complaint. She did say that she was just tired of living.

Since she was done with life she curled up next to a space heater (which amazingly didn't catch the house on fire) and didn't move. She had been there for over 2 days.

The old lady let me check her vitals which weren't horrible for the circumstances. After a little talk we informed her that the police were putting her on a psychiatric hold and that she had to go to the hospital. She was amazingly compliant.

We helped her onto the gurney and sent her off to the hospital. Hopefully she gets the help she needs.
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