Another flight shift…I was on standby a total of 3 times this afternoon, and we finally got to fly for the 3rd one. I found that my pace picked up dramatically when I thought I was going to leave the department on a flight, or maybe it was the nature of the patients, but I had discharge instructions and prescriptions written out for most of my active ED patients when I finally left on the flight. It was for a possible head injury from an “athletic injury”.
Although it had been raining and thunderstorming throughout the day, when I got up to the roof for the helicopter to pick me up, I was met with a refreshing evening cool breeze with a little dampness to it. It was a perfect night for flying! It was a nice long flight, about 10-15 minutes. We arrived at the landing zone prior to the patient who was being transported via ambulance. So we had a few minutes to kill…we got out of the chopper, yukked it up with the firefighters, looked at the helicopter sitting in the grass…uh oh, where’s the landing gear? The right rear landing wheel was fully half-way submerged into the soft grass. The pilot checked the nose landing gear…it was gone! The nose of the chopper was sitting on the ground. the left rear wheel was sinking just as quickly.
The three of us (the nurse, medic and myself) got out of the chopper, moved the litter to the pavement to meet the ambulance, and then the pilot took off and landed in the parking lot after the firefighters cleared it of giddy teenage girls.
The patient finally arrived, a 270 pound 16 year old linebacker with a potential head injury! We finally got him loaded (I let the 8 firefighters do all the work), and took off. The pilot hovered in one spot for about three minutes, slowly turning in circles looking for the power lines. With the full fuel tank due to the previous 2 standbys, the 270 pound patient, 3 crew and 1 pilot, he was not anxious to go flying over any power lines. We landed again, the medic, all 130 pounds of him, jumped out and hitched a ride back to the hospital with the patients parents! I volunteered to be the one left behind, but I didn’t think my attending would appreciate it.
We arrived uneventfully after an equally pleasant flight back to the hospital.