Once the adrenaline hit, it never subsided. There were times when it peaked at levels I'd never before experienced, so much excitement and adrenaline packed into one event. I guess it's the mark of a rookie, I had not yet treated a patient on my own at that point. I've gotta say that I've been in much worse, much crazier situations since and I haven't been nearly as excited. I guess I'm learning after all! The neat thing about it all though, was that I stayed calm throughout. Inwardly excited, outwardly I was calm, treating patients, helping out, staying out of the way if need be.
It was my first big event, a heavy metal concert where there was potential for mass casualties. I read a post by Baby Medic a few months ago that was eerily familiar, although my concert didn't seem quite as violent, and our most serious call wasn't as bad as his. Seriously though, reading it gave me crazy deja vu. There were 8 of us there that night, and the guys were setting up for a busy night. Good thing they did to....
I'm partnered with one of my favourite guys in the division, we'll call him Jack, so this is looking to be a fun night. I really look up to him, he's a lot of fun and seems to have taken a liking to me. We've been setting up our post for the last hour at least, time seems to be crawling. There is a delicious tension in the air, we're waiting for the madness to start, and all we can do now is pretend to keep busy. Chairs are placed in strategic locations, then reorganized as we bring in the stretchers and equipment. We have two trucks here tonight, meaning lots of gear and lots of people.
The band finally gets onstage, and wow, they are noisy! I am glad for the earplugs supplied by John, this music is nothing close to what I usually listen too. Lights, smoke, screams and incredible bass add to the noise as we split into teams and head off to cover the stadium. There is a team posted upstairs at concourse level, one at the front of the stage near the mosh pit, one at the back of the lower level, and then the two of us at the trucks. We'll be rotating through each positions, depending on the patients each team has, but for now I'm happy to stay out of the fray, there is a sense of safety at home base. The fans are the craziest people I've ever seen, studs, piercings, spikes, chains and black everywhere, not quite what I am used to.
Very few minutes pass when a young man limps out of the crowd, making his way from pillar to pillar for support. He collapses against the wall directly opposite from us, and as I rise to my feet to let Jack know we have a patient, he passes me, already on his way out. I follow quickly. The young man is in obvious pain, holding his knee, pale and sweaty. He tells us that another guy walked up and hoofed him in the knee, hyperextending it. Jack goes to grab the stair chair, which doubles as a great wheelchair, leaving me with the patient. I kneel beside him and start talking, gathering information. No notes, no prompts, no evaluators, just me and my patient. I like this much better.
As we return to our area and get ice for his knee, the other partners start to return with patients. People are passing out left, right and centre, with anxiety attacks, minor wounds and drunkenness thrown in for good measure. We're suddenly packed, every partner set has at least one patient, and more are coming in with every passing moment. There is not too much Jack and I can do for our injured knee guy, we've wrapped it and are holding ice on it, there is no instability and only minor swelling, so it may not be too bad. Suddenly a crowd of security runs in, one carrying a man over his shoulders. Jack and I look up as they crash the entrance, then all heck breaks loose. The man is BLUE. Seriously blue, from the neck up. Jack jumps to his feet, knocking the bag of ice flying, which scatters all over the floor. Roy runs over as the man is dumped onto the stretcher, which happens to be right beside my knee patient in the stair chair. I have my own patient to look after, and they certainly don't need me in the way, so I clean up the ice and move my patient out of the commotion. I finish up the form and look up to see Mr. Blue saunter out the door. Whaaaaa...?? He was blue 2 minutes ago, and now he's leaving? I look up at Jack questioningly, he simply shrugs. Apparently the drop onto the stretcher woke him up, he started breathing again, and denied treatment. Weird.
Security is screaming for us on the radio and beckoning frantically from the concert entrance. I hand my knee patient over to NDP, another veteran, as Jack and I charge for the commotion. He runs an awful lot for a guy who's been doing this for over 10 years, I would prefer not to charge through the crowd in the dark with a massive bag. Ah well, he is my partner and I can't lose him, so I pick up my pace. I just think it's strange that I'm less obviously excited then he is.
Man down in the mosh pit, security is frantically waving us on. We enter the stadium bowl and my senses are immediately assaulted. Screaming music, cheering fans, flashing lights, lazers and smoke spur us onwards. As my feet hit the wooden aisle leading to the front of the stage, the music starts to crescendo, rising into a roaring, howling peak that only serves to push my adrenaline higher. I feel like it is a movie, we are racing through the dark, punctuated only by the strobe lights and lazers as the music keeps building. The music is setting up the scene, dramatically building, higher, louder, more intense. We arrive at the call as the music suddenly cuts out, gone. And so is our patient. What a letdown. Whoever it was had gotten up and blending into the teaming crowd, nothing for us to do. We stay at stage left, watching and waiting, but not for long, never for very long.
Security runs over again as the radio goes nuts. We can't hear the radio, but we blindly follow security down the aisle. Another young man, this one is leaning heavily against the metal fence around the mosh pit, looking generally ill. Jack and security help him climb over, really just pulling him over, and he stumbles towards the exit. I look back up at Jack, who gestures for me to follow him out, my patient. He hangs back as I escort the man out, my hand on his back to guide him as he stumbles. I escort him past a myriad of police officers who nod at me as we sweep through the black curtain. My patient is pale and sweaty, unsteady on his feet. I help him into a chair and start to talk, figuring out what happened. He was just overwhelmed by the heat and noise, a drink of water, cool air and a chair restores his colour quickly. We are approached by a security again, but this time he is the patient. He has smashed his pinky pulling somebody out of the mosh pit, it is easily the size of his thumb. Jack confirms my suspicions that is is broken, then vanishes as a young woman is carried in, shaking and faint. My fainting patient is fine, just resting, so I turn my attention to finger man. I gather him supplies for a splint, he wants to just get back to work and doesn't want the bother of paperwork. If I splint it, that means a form, so he says he'll just do it himself. I check on my knee patient as I pass the splint stuff to finger man and hand faint guy another glass of water. Three patients at once, minor ones yes, but still neat. He's sore but ok, and I discharge him, advising him to come back if he needs more help. (How cool is that - I actually have to give him my medical permission to leave...hehe) He thanks me, but says it looks like we have far more needy patients then he, and limps slowly back to the concert.
Jack runs out again, and I follow him after telling faint guy to rest a bit longer, I'll check on him in a few minutes. An usher has run out of the crowd, carrying a thin young woman who is limp, yet appears to be trying to curl into a ball. He sets her down beside a pillar as we approach, and Jack immediately radios for the stretcher. Her boyfriend holds her close, an attractive young man with reddish-brown curly hair and eyes full of loving concern. She is having an anxiety attack, which apparently happens to her in loud, crowded situations. Good call on coming to a heavy metal concert then! John and Roy arrive with the stretcher, and John beckons me over. As I lean in, he tells me I need to get back to my patient, fill in a PCR and discharge him properly. He wasn't really ill, just need fresh air and water while he calmed down, but I understand the need for paperwork, I should've done it already. I nod, properly chastised, and head back to faint guy, leaving anxiety girl in very capable hands.
We have several other patients, and the other partners were just as busy all night. Suddenly it is 11:00 and the band is wrapping up, we start to slowly clear out. Everyone is amazed that is is over, time has flown. It is estimated that the 8 of us treated around 30 patients in a span of 3 hours. Most were fainting/dehydration/drunk calls, but we had a few that were more serious. Mr. Blue man and a leg injury that Roy treated and sent out via EMS were deemed our most serious of the evening, though nobody really knew what was up with blue guy. We slowly pack up, and head out to grab food after a hectic evening. It is nice to hang out and chat, slowly relaxing. They give us a police discount at the restaurant as we're all in uniform, that was nice. It takes me a while to get to sleep, but I drift off happily. I feel like I survived my first real test, I didn't freeze tonight, and I actually got to treat people myself. It was a crazy, crazy night, but I look back on it with a smile, it was a lot of fun.