Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Well That Explains Alot...

Let me preface this by saying that I do not frequent strip joints on a regular basis...

...But about two years ago, after a rough night at work I found myself in our local dive. I was feeling tired, numb, and lonely, having been recently single, and wanted company. From behind the dark curtain of oddly flashing strobe lights, a scantily clad beauty came up to my seat and asked those oh-too-common words: "Want a dance?" I let this tiny brunette lead my by the hand to the back room where she commenced the festivities. Being fairly new to the strip club scene, I made the mistake of attempting conversation with the gal now gyrating in my lap. It went a little something like this:

BBM: I just got off-duty
Stripper: Oh, that's so hot, I love a man in uniform! Are you a cop?"
BBM; Nope, I'm an EMT.

I watched in utter fascination as a look of complete confusion swept over her makeup-laden face.

Stripper: An EM-what?
BBM: Ambulance man. I help hurt people.

The song ended, she got up and I left shaking my head. So THAT'S why she's a stripper...


As an Army Medic, I'm a specialist in trauma medicine. My skills allow me to keep a soldier who's been wounded in any number of horrible ways alive, long enough to reach a higher echelon of care. Unfortunately, my training is for just that-soldiers only. Acting as a civilian, or on a civilian, my skills are automaticly lowered to the level of Nationally Registered EMT-B, and New York State EMT-B. None of those extra skills matter, even if it means life or death for my patient. This is one case, where it may have mattered, or may not have. Either way, it was a difficult choice for me not to do more then I was allowed.

My 42 year old victim lies on my cot, circling the drain, but I'm helpless. She and her three middle-school aged children ran off the road and into the woods at a high rate of speed. The little Honda Civic was folded up like an accordian. One of the kids was DOA, the other two were gettin' there. I didn't get to see much of them, being the last truck on scene. One was airlifted, the other leaving by ground moments after I arrived.

Fire department spotlights illuminate the car as if it was in a patch of daylight. I climb into what remains of the car-there's no roof left, and thankfully the hose-jockeys have already gotten the door popped too. I size a collar and my partner positions the board for a rapid extrication. She is breathing rapid and shallow, dimished on the left side, and it doesnt rise quite as far as her right. She is covered in minor-to serious bleeding cuts all over her upper body from glass and twisted metal. Both legs have nasty open tib/fib fractures. One of these is bleeding very heavily and I wrap a pressure dressing on. What seems remarkable to me is that she was seen as the least serious case in the car-aside from her son the DOA. We're only a 10 minute haul from the hospital, maybe less because the State Police have the traffic lights for us, and my partner can drive like a bat outta hell when she wants to. I have no ALS. They are tied up on other jobs. One could be sent from two towns over, but she'll be at the hospital quicker then they would be able to get here. We load and go.

"Jane Doe" is unconcious, with a GCS at 3. I have an NPA in, but according to my pulse ox, she's only satting at 85 with 15LPM of 02. She needs a tube, but I have no medics. Were she a soldier, I could pop a King airway in, but she is not, and I'm a basic EMT in New York. They don't trust us with tubes, other then oxygen tubing. Her respriritory trouble is getting worse, trachea deviating off to the right. There are no left side lung sounds. If she were a soldier, I could fix that pneumo she seems to have, with a 14 gauge needle. But she's not, so I simply apply a bulky dressing and hope that the one lung is enough for another 8 minutes. Her pressure is dropping, from 110/70 on scene to under 80 systolic now. Were she a soldier, I could start an IV and push a 1000ml saline bolus, or better yet, that nifty Hextend stuff to get her pressure back up. But she's not, so I can only sit and watch. We're 7 minutes out when I start bagging, and her oxygen sat goes up for a moment, until her heart stopped. I'm still doing compressions when we arrive at the ER, but they didn't really matter. There was nothing I could do....and everything that I could have done.