Saturday, January 8

Recipe for "It Could Have Been Worse" Trauma


6 young adults (use 18-21 year olds without helmets)
3 Modern Snowmobiles
5 inches of powdery snow with a layer of ice on top
1 Very Dark Night
1 Very Hilly Piece of Property with lots of obstacles.
1 HEAPING serving of luck.

To make tonight’s dish, combine all of the above, and don’t skimp on the luck!

Just got back. Call comes in for a 20 y/o with head injuries from a snowmobile accident. On the board is our chief (as driver), a medic (actually, the medic while our other one is out of town), and me as EMT. I rolled out of bed, did some “stuff” (you know, pry the sleep out of my eyes, get dressed, etc.), and started high-tailing it into town and toward the station. I’m on the road for about 90 sec when the medic tells control he is on his way. 30 sec after that the chief calls in and says he is going directly to the scene. Makes sense as the scene is within a minute of his house. Another EMT showed up for the call, so we have a decent crew even without the chief. The medic drives and off we go.

Arrive at a nice house out of town. The house is on a Christmas tree farm and there are evergreens at various stages of development. I hate to say it, but my first look at the scene was one of beauty. The accident wasn’t visible, so the view was one of snow covered evergreens, with a layer of ice on them, reflecting the flashing lights of all the rescue vehicles (the fire-rescue boys [and girls] beat us to the scene). You know how some people put foil “icicles” on their Christmas tree? This must be what they are trying to imitate.

There is ice on top of everything, and it is very slippery. We walk/trot/slide down a hill to see the scene itself. On our way, we see snowmobile tracks everywhere. Very erratic in nature, some headed toward natural “jumps” where it is clear the machines, if going fast enough, could get air. Given the nature of the tracks, it is clear they have being getting air. A lot of it.

Five young adults in various stages of hysteria, standing in the middle of some 8” to 20” trees. Rescue standing around in a circle and our chief and his wife (a RN and an EMT) working on the patient. As I walk past the young adults I smell what I take to be metabolizing ethanol. A lot of it. One of the bystanders goes to light a cigarette, and before I can say anything, someone from rescue points out the fact that O2 is flowing.

The patient is supine in the snow, in a row of young trees. The patient is alert, but is laying on what looks like a mosaic made out of circular tiles ranging in color from light pink to deep red. Our patient was the passenger on a snowmobile and fell off the back (no helmet). The laceration on his head was at least five inches in length. HUGE. I don’t really know if it came from hitting the ground itself or if it was a cut from the ice on top of the snow (if you’ve never felt it, if you break through ice on top of snow the edge can be very sharp).

There are more than enough hands near the patient, and I decide to turn the rig around as it is about 60 feet from the road down a driveway that is barely wide enough to fit it. I figured it would be better to turn it around instead of trying to back out if we got in a hurry. I haven’t been driving much lately, and it got my heart rate up having to back the rig up hill, in the snow, with a few feet drop off on either side. If I had gotten stuck I would have not only impaired patient care but I would have trapped the fire/rescue truck and the chief’s truck. Just as I finished turning around the back doors fly open, our patient is loaded, and we head to the local hospital per his request and with the medic’s blessing.

Oh, I almost forgot. State police got there as we were leaving. In my state it is against the law to operate a snowmobile when you are intoxicated. It is also against the law to drink alcohol if you are under the age of 21. Hmmm. I wonder if the five people remaining on scene will “forget” who was driving?