Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sometimes we need to laugh....

For all of us in the Fire and EMS services, here's a funny little parody of a newer country song. We have ALL been here, and had this exact call or very similar, at the most iinconvenient hours. I hope you can enjoy this and laugh as much as I did. Sometimes that's all we need!


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hurricane Irene on east coast brings back memories...

 Ambulances riding out the storm
Hurricane Irene is just leaving her mark on us here in Pa, the thought of this hurricane brings back some of the most humbling, exciting, and terrifying memories I have had during a hurricane. In 2008 just days before the Labor Day holiday, I was working, and running calls with my local department, when we received a call from our EMS council. It was an alert to notify us of a pending deployment of our regional EMS Strike Team. Immediate excitement filled me, we hoped for one of these days to come. I spent hours upon hours, on conference calls gathering details and hearing that a deployment was becoming inevitable, that during the past few days the state of Louisiana had requested Pennsylvania for their assistance. I was filled with excitement and joy for this trip having little idea of what was in store. When word became official, it was determined that our service would send an ambulance but no one else from my department was going to be able to make the 13day trip with me, however two members from a neighboring department in the county would go along. We drove straight through and 50 ambulances from Pennsylvania's statewide strike teams were joined together in Alexandria, Louisiana. Immediately ambulances were deployed to New Orleans where they were evacuating hospitals, nursing homes, and private residences to airports and evacuation shelters. The sad truth was, some of these patients we picked up weren't even going to make it till the storms arrival let alone through the evacuation process. Multiple patients in critical care expired on the tarmac waiting for planes and choppers to evacuate them pre storm,Patients were being bagged for hours, and sadly enough a patients family member who was just riding along coded on the bench seat, from an apparent MI. It was like action  scenes from a movie. Business were boarded up, gas stations were patrolled by  armed national guard.  Life in the evacuation shelter was anything but pleasant. It was a large steel building that had just been built, still didn't have a certificate of occupancy, but was needed in this emergency. 10,000 evacuees could and would be housed in this building, including a section for us EMS responders and the national guard, plus a section for "MASH", a critical care unit, plus a section for evacuated pets. Showers for the EMS personal consisted of grabbing a zip lock bag that had a bar of soap, a towel and wash cloth stuffed in it and entering the trailer portion of 18 wheelers where "personal"showers were separated with a few curtains and a garden hose with a nozzle on the end the "waste" water would then drain straight through the trailer to the ground below. Sure we tried to make our own fun, while we were stuck in the shelter during the storm itself, made friends with other EMS personal, the National guard, and several evacuated children. We played in the rain and wind, watched roofs blow from homes, trees bend and snap like they were tooth picks, made kites out of cardboard, but not all was fun. We took part in shifts working with the general population in the hospital area or makeshift ER for the thousands of evacuees., in the CCU we visited residents and tended to their needs dispensing medications, and updating charts. We kept the children in the play area occupied with games, and coloring along with the help of the red cross. We took a lot of time to visit the general population where we met some wonderful people that told us of their experiences during hurricane Katrina, many of which tried to ride out that storm. I felt like I was in a third world country, but I couldn't be more proud of the experience I was part of. A terrible and disgusting experience I noted was, when even the shelter lost power, eventually more and more started going downhill, to the point, that sewage started backing up and coming through the floor of the shelter in the CCU. It was miserably hot, and patients laying in the CCU were  dying of heat exhaustion, and others were breathing in the sewage that rose from the floor. Children had been running barefoot through it for hours, until finally the area was  caution tapped off and cleaning crews were able to assess the situation, dressed in full bio hazard, suits at this point, it was too late the damage was done, and I knew that this was real life, and what I was seeing really did happen. The day after the storm had cleared we were deployed for a search and rescue mission.Few residents were taken from there homes to evacuation shelters or hospitals in Texas if they needed immediate care. We regrouped at a storm abandoned hospital Lane  Regional medical center, where we "camped" for the night. EMS personal had run of the hospital and many took advantage of exploring, that night you could find EMT's and Medics sleeping everywhere and anywhere from patient rooms, to the Labor and Delivery unit, to on top of OR tables. The following morning the Pennsylvania STRIKE team was moved to Zachary, Louisiana where they would be "headquartered" and dispatched on assignments from a Baptist church for the next 11 days. While ambulances were on  missions the remaining EMS personal cleaned tree and other debris from the church and neighboring homes and made roads passable again. On the missions personal was repopulating homes throughout the state with evacuees or still evacuating people who remained at home, but were left with unlivable conditions.Southern Hospitality surely was alive and well in Louisiana then, but I definitely believe I have had a life time fix of MRE's,Rice and jambalayaThese 13 days definitely made the biggest  impact on my life and my career in EMS, I could keep writing about the deaths I saw, the people I met, and the damage another hurricane had  on an area that was still hurting from Katrina 5 years before, but the real blessing would have been for you to have been there and lived it with me. (Be sure to click the link at the bottom to read my story in the local newspaper)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Earthquake 2011

.What kind of blogger would I be if I didn't get on here and talk about the earthquake? So with that said, I survived my first quake...been there done that

Monday, August 22, 2011

Petals,Posies,Bows, and how I got to where I am

It was the day after Valentines Day 2005, I was working at a flower shop as a florist. It had been one hell of a week, but this day February 15th was going to be laid back;lots of cleaning and celebrating that we survived the floral industries "D-Day." It was a typical  February morning and I was a typical teenager who never allowed enough time for anything.I had spent my Valentines Day evening with my boyfriend after an exhausting day at the flower shop.I woke up that next morning hurriedly gathered my gifts and made the forty-five miniature drive to my home. I only allowed myself enough time to drop and go, I had to keep moving if I wanted to make it to work on time. I grabbed a pair of comfortable shoes and thought to myself  "I'll change these on the way,maybe at a stop light or when I get there." It was a beautiful day sunny and mid forties and I rushed myself to work, speeding along the way to make up time. I decided to take a back road, I was going to need this road eventually so why not now; it was a small twisty road that went up over the mountain and rarely saw much traffic except for its own residences, surely I could make up time. At some point I had changed one of my shoes as I sped along. Less then three miles from work that's when it happened. I lost it, I felt the car start to slide to the left, where a mini van was approaching; natural instinct I pulled the wheel and I was back into my lane, however not for long the car slid again and I was staring into the back seat of the  minivan. Alls I could see was a car seat and I thought I can not hit this van. I did the only thing I had time for, I gripped the wheel and bent down tucking my head between the door jam and the steering column. I closed my eyes, and shouted out loud repeatedly that I didn't want to die, I knew my car was going to go down over the side of the mountain. I blacked out. When I regained consciousness, I was  laying on my side hanging in my seat belt. I had slid on black ice my car had spun several times, took out a telephone pole, and rolled down the mountain until it finally wedged itself between some trees. I started bawling, shaking, and screaming for help. I unbuckled my  seat belt and kicked the glass out the passenger side window and stood up. My adrenaline was pumping WTF just happened? I looked around standing up on the road was the lady driving the van. "Help is on the way" she yelled to me. "Help? On the way?" That's not good enough I thought, I need it now I could smell the odor of something burning and gas, I had to get out. I found my cell phone and crawled out of the car on my own and up the side of the mountain. The lady took one look at me, and demanded I sit in her van until helped arrived. Was she nuts? I was obviously ok I just survived the crash, was self extricated and I still needed to call my dad, call work, and a tow truck. She was persistent, agreed that I could call my father, but told me I really needed to sit down. I sat in the front seat of the van the little boy in the car seat looked at me terrified. An off duty police officer arrived and jumped in the back seat of the van and leaned forward grabbing my head and neck, he insisted that I did not move anymore. My left arm started hurting I was having chest pain, It finally hit me that I was tasting my own blood. I glared into the rear view mirror and saw blood running down my cheeks and from ears. I began spitting shards of glass, from my mouth I could feel the grit of glass in my teeth. More glass and blood as I spit. It seemed like forever, but I could hear sirens coming my way. Soon after someone new had grabbed my head and a collar was placed around my neck, four or five other people were all trying to talk to me at once moving me onto a back board, great I thought they are going to drop me back down the side of this mountain. I was placed on a stretcher and moved into the ambulance. So much was going on around me, my dad had gotten into the front seat of the ambulance there was a guy in the back ready to look at me and another firefighter had crawled in to help. I remember telling the one guy that I couldn't breath, that this thing around my neck had to come off, I told him that I was scared and that I was going to pass out. He told me to focus on something in the ambulance, and suggested that I look at the good looking firefighter that was with him. Ok good plan, he was good looking and the firefighter had moved to the captains chair above my head where I could look up at him. I must of not been with it at all, cause I wasn't holding back and I told him that he was cute, but that didn't last long, I blacked out again. I must not have been out long because when I woke nothing seemed to have changed, the ambulance siren  was still screaming and no one had changed in the back.My shirt sleeve had been cut and the guy had asked me to wiggle my toes, great it was just then I remembered I still had two different shoes on.The remainder of the ride stayed uneventful, however I don't exactly remember what else was said or done. I arrived at the E.R. was seen and the exam and xrays all came back clear. My arm was in a sling, but I had no severe injuries, minor cuts and bumps and some severe bruising from my seat belt. It wasn't till a week later that I was cleared to go back to work, first thing was first I sent a snack basket to both  local fire departments that were on scene that day, that showed me compassion and gave me excellent care. Just over a year later I had started dating someone new who was a volunteer firefighter and an EMT, it wasn't long till I found myself joining the department and beginning the whirlwind that would be one of my greatest adventures ever and would soon consume me. I had entered the realm of Fire and EMS services.