Saturday, April 24

What a night/morning

In my last post (last night!) I mentioned it is “Spring Party Weekend”. A lot of ethanol, music, and general rowdiness. As I went to bed I put my pager on “alert” mode which means it only makes noise if my ambulance corps has a call. I had a hard time falling asleep as the music from a band playing outdoors made it from a fraternity downtown to my house (I live outside of town on a hill so there is a straight line-of-sight between me and campus). The last time I saw on the clock before I fell asleep was 2350.

At approximately 0130 my pager went off. MVA rollover right in town. Can’t be an accurate call given the location as the speed limit there is 30 MPH. I figure this will be a bogus run, but that with everything else going on in town I might as well head down to the station as we like to take two rigs to an MVA and there could always be a second call as the first is being dealt with.

As I approach downtown I yield to some fire trucks turning left at the main intersection. I see a bunch of clearly intoxicated students jumping up and down and cheering the trucks. If these idiots knew where they were going I certainly hope they would have managed to be somber. My chief gets on the EMS channel and asks control to tone out for more manpower. I hear our first rig go out. Hmm. In retrospect, I should have known that the request for more manpower was a horrible sign of what was to come, but at the time I just assumed he wanted to make sure the second rig got out.

It is worth mentioning at this point that my pager does not get the fire/rescue frequencies and that some of the ambulance corps in my area come out of fire departments. If I had brought my handheld scanner with me I would have known a lot more about what was going on and could have had time to get the pucker factor dialed up. As it was I still figured this had to be, at worse, a car-pole minor incident.

Pulling into the station there are cars everywhere. I open the door to the back of our second rig and see 4 (FOUR!) people in the back. This is in addition to the two in front. I start to back out and tell them to be careful when they look at me like I am crazy and tell me to get into the rig. As soon as the door closes we are off. This made me realize they knew something I didn’t and that something bad was going on.

Station to scene in 90 seconds. A late-model smaller SUV (like a Chevy Blazer) is in the middle of the road, near an intersection, and is in BAD shape. On its side is the vehicle our students call the “drunk bus”. This is a commercial bus that is contracted by the school to shuttle students around downtown and campus locations. It was put in place after a fatal MVA involving alcohol a few years ago. The “drunk bus” probably holds 30 people or so, and is large enough that a small SUV should not be able to knock it over unless there was a lot of speed. There was.

The good news: No one on the bus was hurt despite the fact it was flipped over.

The bad news: The smaller SUV contained 3 unrestrained people in their 20s. Our chief had called out mutual-aid for a third ALS rig (this went out over the fire freq so I didn’t hear it), and good thing. When I jumped out of our rig I heard the fire chief (who is a paramedic) yell “the driver is going next, get ready to board him”. I grabbed a backboard and set of collars. I got involved in getting the guy out of the car and boarded when I realized my ambulances were driving away! I didn’t realize the other two passengers had already been extricated and were packaged waiting to leave. Here I sat, with a boarded patient and these firefighters are looking at me like “what next”? Thankfully the mutual-aid rig pulls up and we load the driver (who has a wicked mid-shaft femur fracture). The mutual-aid guys tell me to jump in and off we go to the trauma center that is 20 minutes away. Patient is alert and oriented x 3, complaining of extreme pain in his mid-thigh, and incredibly has normal vital signs. Much to the patients benefit I learned how to use a Hare traction splint THURSDAY. The second time I put one on is for a real femur fracture. Wow.

All of them made it to the trauma center alive. The police took a BAC on our patient before we left. I don’t know what it was, but given the nature of his fracture and the limited amount of complaining, it must have been high. Enroute he admits to having consumed alcohol and says that he never lost conciousness. When asked how the accident happened he complains that the bus turned left without a signal. He was going in the same diretion as the bus. The road is two lanes, in town, with a 30 mph speed limit. When our patient saw the bus slow down he decided to pass it. He was going 55 mph when he struck the bus (by his report).

I’m going to go back to sleep (or try). I will try hard NOT to think of the fact that this guy was driving on the roads I drive on. Or that someone’s son or daughter could have been killed by him. Or, if the story someone at the trauma center is true, that IF he was DWI this would give him his 4th conviction.

Instead, I’ll think about this morning being the first day of soccer for my son. I plan to watch some 6 year olds play some soccer, plant 100 tree seedlings on our property, take a nap, and get ready for tonight (I’m on call as a driver from 1800 to 0600 Sunday).

I hope the students talk about this accident enough that it will tame them some tonight. I know better.