Flight 024, however, was an adventure. I’m not sure how the patient made out just yet, but at least he survived to the hospital and beyond admission.
This was a callout for an 80 year old man whose tractor rolled over an embankment by his house into the creek below. He was pinned underneath for about 45 minutes. Thankfully, he was not in the water, but he might as well have been because his clothing was absolutely soaked.
We flew pretty far north and landed at a firehouse. We carried our litter and bags to the waiting ambulance, opened the back door and it was…empty! Huh? We climbed in, loading our litter onto the empty litter in teh back, and the driver took us up the road apiece, mabye 5 miles or so. He then turned up a narrow snowy drive into the woods, parking on a wooden bridge over a creek. It was as close as we could get to the scene.
The patient had just been extricated and was in the back of the next ambulance up the driveway. When we arrived, the only thing on scene medics had time to do was put him in a c-collar and give him some O2s. I was a little thrown off because normally by the time we arrive, they have the patient bundled & packed, IV access started, fluids running, the works. This guy was fresh out of the snow bank.
He was having trouble breathing, but was awake and could talk to us. Minimal signs of external trauma. I was relieved. He didn’t need a tube just yet, at least not down his trachea. The medic got IV access and delivered 100mcg of fentanyl. We got his wet pants off & covered him as best we could. The quarters were too cramped to get him off of his soaking wet longunderwear, flannel shirt & bulky jacket that he lay on top of. FOrtuneatly, that was my only regret on this run, that we brought him back with wet clothes still somewhat attached. We put hotpacks around his groin and underarms, covered him with dry blankets, cranked up the heat and got him back to the waiting helicopter, loaded him and brought him to the trauma bay.
He ended up getting bilateral chest tubes, but I think he avoided intubation. In retrospect, I think it’s worth the small amount of extra time it would take to lift or roll him and get the clothes off. Less dry clothing is much, much better than more wet clothing.