Tuesday, August 18, 2009


(If you haven't already, read the previous three posts.)

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We scream down into the small town, and hockey-stop in front of the fire department. A young man in a fire dept t-shirt jumps in the back, wide-eyed and freshly awoken.

"I'm just a basic," he says, and I point with a free hand to the airway seat.

"Not a problem. Sit up there." I lean forward, towards the breezeway to the cab. "Okay, let's go."

Both lines are running wide open, and before even a few hundred of fluid are in he's looking better. His heart rate slowly creeps up, and his blood pressure slowly improves. The arrival at the hospital is anticlimactic, after the adrenaline rush of before, and the dozen providers waiting in the ER slowly disperse as it becomes apparent that the patient is now relatively stable.

Later, charting, I puzzle over the case, and the numbers. I look at the overall curve of the blood pressures, the heart rate, and slowly a conclusions dawns. Under the cover of my concern about a GI bleed, a relatively simple vasovagal event -- overstimulation of a nerve in the heart, causing heart rate and blood pressure to drop -- appeared to be something much more serious.

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He has a head injury, probably a concussion, and repeats his questions. He wants to know everyone's names. Was he in a car accident? What's happening? Can we call someone for him?

The answers are patiently provided as he's IV'd, medicated, backboarded, and ultimately medicated. The flight nurse is standing there for the last moments of the extrication, and introduces herself to the patient as we start rolling the stretcher down the road to where the helo waits.

We roll past the other car, still on its top. A yellow blanket covers one window.

He asks where he's going, and again is told that he's to be flown to the trauma center.

And yet, when we reach the bird, and go to load him in, his eyes light up, and he reaches up to touch it.

"Whoa," he exclaims, "Is this a helicopter?"

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