Friday, December 28, 2007

Disaster Night

We were joined by a group of new recruits last month, and Anthony (the training officer)decided to welcome them to the division by scaring the pants off them. He planned a massive disaster scenario, with them as the patients and us as the responders. It was a great idea and a lot of fun, but since only 3 of us showed up as responders, it became a lesson in how NOT to manage a disaster......

John, Shane and I pull up in the truck as we hear Anthony call over the radio, "There has been an explosion in the building, with casualties trapped. Fire has cleared the building so it is safe to enter, but EMS is unavailable due to a massive accident on the highway. Treat and evacuate all patients." Even though Shane and I know this is only a scenario, I can tell we're both excited. John just shakes his head at the two of us, I can almost hear his sighing thought, "Rookies!" We grab the stretcher and our gear and head into the building, the oh-so-familiar building where we've spent countless hours training and otherwise goofing off.

I push open the door and stop in shock - I don't recognize the place. Anthony has done an amazing job, along with his team of moulage artists. I step forward into the darkness, my flashlight beam picking up 'broken glass' covering the floor, furniture strewn about haphazardly and wires hanging from the fallen ceiling tiles. He's found disaster sound effects of some sort, ominous creaking and groaning provides a perfect backdrop for the screams and moans of the casualties. We move forward and find our first patients, an arterial bleed/spinal victim, an amputated hand and a woman in labour. After taking care of the arterial bleed, they leave me assessing the pregnant lady, and move towards the back of the building. An obviously dead woman with grey matter splattering the floor lies in their way, she is quickly moved aside, next to the fractured femur. Upstairs is a severe asthma attack and a few other minor casualties, they have their hands full.

I'm still with the woman in labour, I don't want to leave her - although there are much more serious patients to attend to. Eventually I clue in that I'm wasting time and leave her with a friend who has only minor injuries. It is complete chaos now, John and Shane have stair-chaired the asthma patient down, but since they didn't notice her puffer, she dies before they reach the door. Playing the role of the first responding paramedics, Paul chews them out for bringing him a dead patient before a critical one. They scurry back in, passing me as I quickly treat the amputated hand. Roy and Kyle show up now, still in their EMS uniforms, they both just left work. They just wander around the disaster scene though, not being very useful. Their arrival means EMS has been freed up though, so now we can evacuate more patients.

John disappears into the back room and I join Shane as we board the spinal victim. We're missing straps and he's lying in an awkward position in the dark, backboarding him is a challenge. We get him secured and bring the stretcher close, but Shane disappears around the corner. He returns very quickly, saying that Roy is coming to help lift. "No way!" I say, "We can lift him, just grab the other end, c'mon!" He looks concerned, "You sure?" I just nod and crouch at the head. We count and lift, straight up from the floor and over to the stretcher. Roy turns the corner as we begin to strap him on and jokingly says, "Lift assist for the wimps?" I scoff at him, "Pifft, we can handle it." He disappears just as the stretcher drops - freaking out our patient and both of us. I look up at Shane, "What did you do???" He sheepishly shrugs, "I guess it wasn't locked properly..." Fortunately, the guy we boarded is only slightly fazed, and not a real patient! We wheel him out to the lobby and let him loose, the poor guy has had to pee for the last hour and hasn't been able to leave.

Anthony comes over the radio again, "There is a VIP in the building, the deputy mayor. Have you located him yet?" We all look at each other and shrug, nope. We scurry around, doing another sweep of the building, looking for any patients we may have missed. Finally, one of the guys pushes open the bathroom door - revealing a pale, sweaty man who is clutching his chest. Darn it. Looks like we missed the dude having the MI! After a collective smack on the forehead, we wheel him out quickly and return to collect our last few patients. The scenario ends as the last patient is evacuated, we breathe a massive sigh of relief.

Even though it wasn't real, there were times in that hour and a half where we were flustered, overwhelmed and getting tunnel vision like crazy. We talked it out afterwards, and find a million things we did wrong. Granted, having only 3 initial responders made it close to impossible to set up a triage station and properly treat everyone, but we could've done a lot better. The newbies were impressed, anyways. We're going to do this regularly, with every group of new recruits, there will be another disaster scenario to welcome them to the division. It's something good to get practice doing, and besides, it's a ton of fun!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Amazing Story

My favourite blog authors have come up with another 'Perspectives' post, it is definitely worth reading. Start with Lawdog the police officer, then move to Ambulance Driver the paramedic and Babs the nurse. Make sure to have Kleenex handy, I still haven't stopped crying. Great writing, a touching story.

Monday, December 10, 2007

My First MFR Duty

Well, last night was my first duty as a Medical First Responder, my first duty in charge. It was a great night, with a grand total patients. Now, it was a Celtic fiddle concert, which explains the lack of people getting hurt or sick. There really aren't that many ways to injure yourself while sitting still and listening to awesome music! It was fun though, I had a great partner, Shane. We ended up sitting outside the concert hall and talking for the entire 2nd half of the show.

It was a neat experience because my first duty ever was at the same venue, about this time last year. I was so nervous then, pacing around the house for hours beforehand, terrified that somebody was going to die and I wouldn't be able to handle it. I'm sure I drove all my housemates crazy! During the show, I was still incredibly nervous, I would jump every time an usher walked by, certain they were coming to tell us somebody was dying. Every time the radio went off, the same thing. It was a terrible night, I was so nervous that I was a complete wreck by the time I got home.

Last night was very different. In full uniform and with my new MFR epaulettes proudly fastened to my uniform sweater, I strode into the venue with confidence. I knew where everything was, I knew many of the staff members. We strolled around for a while, just getting a feel for the evening, then settled into our chairs to watch the show. The musician was amazing, I got completely wrapped up in the performance, just enjoying the music.

It was really neat to be in charge on duty, although a little scary as well. I've had such an amazing safety net for the past year, John and any of my other partners were always there to catch my mistakes, ask questions I forgot and suggest better ways of doing things. Now that is gone for the most part, I am on my own. True, I have a partner, but they are trained to my level or less. This means it is my decision, my call. I love the new responsibility, but I also fear it. I don't want to mess up, I don't want to let any of those guys down. They have a lot of faith in me, they insist I know what I am doing and can do it well. I hope I can prove them right.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Medical First Responder


I am now a medical first responder, woo! It was an intense course, although not nearly as hard as I thought it would be. This weekend was a weekend of testing, and I came through with flying colours. 93% on the written test, top of the class, I am very happy about that. Skill stations were all perfect, and the scenarios were good as well. There are things I missed and need to improve on, of course, but for now I will enjoy the new certification.

Such a stressful weekend though, my stomach still hurts. My BP hit 134/82 this morning, it it usually around 114/70. I am glad it is all over, glad to finally have the qualification. Next weekend will be my first duty on my own, I am looking forward to it. I love this!