Welcome to the new Stream of Consciousness fiction blog.

A serial adventure in fiction by Brad Sondahl

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Chapter 27
Larry and Phil to the rescue!

    I didn't consider, when volunteering as an EMT, how great that would look on my presidential resume!  However, now that I'm in the race, I hope that whatever experiences spring to memory, will not encourage you to vote for one of my opponents.
    Our community uses volunteer EMT's.  That means we had to be trained like paid professionals, only we weren't paid like, well, paid professionals. The classes were long and fairly boring, except that if you didn't learn the details, you could kill someone by your lack of knowledge.  That, plus the blood filled trauma slide shows, helped to keep us awake.  
    Larry, as usual with his hobbies,  soon got a whole kit of scissors, tape,  bandages, resusitator mask, and blood pressure cuff.   He went everywhere with his medical fanny pack.  I settled for the resusitator mask and a scissors, since I figured I'd made it through life this far without doing any lifesaving, so I'd probably make it a lot farther as well.

    This would be true, if it weren't for the fact that the pagers we wore drew us, from whatever we were doing, to where the action was.   That action, in our small town, frequently involved booze and cars, generally together.   The cars generally were beyond help, but the people were another matter.
There were stories told of a lawyer picked up from his car rollover (allegedly) drunk, who declared himself cured and demanded to be released from the ambulance just after the ambulance was across the county line, out of the local sheriff's jurisdiction.  There was the time a young man and woman were pretty well dinged up from a one vehicle rollover, and neither claimed to be able to remember who was driving the car.  They could have done well testifying to Congress.

    I like to live isolated in my own cosmos (although I like other flowers as well).  EMT work put me in touch with a lot of what's not beautiful, but is extremely real:  Holding  disturbed people's hands to keep them from freaking out and hurting either you or them,  trying to find words of comfort for someone who took an overdose of pills and then got scared and called for the ambulance.   Giving a terminal patient a final ride to the the hospital, with only administering oxygen to ease their labored breath.  Giving a quadriplegic a ride to the hospital to try to get his body back in shape to keep living.

    There were a lot of disturbing juxtapositions with EMT work.  We would throw candy out to kids in parades, and later that day be hauling a diabetic who wasn't managing his insulin.  Our own physical proportions echoed that of the populace as a whole, and we were as likely to be diabetic or on heart medicine as the people we would transport.  But Larry, with his extreme sports addictions, and me, as a door-to-door banjo salesman, were in better shape than some...

    It was lucky that we were on duty together that day, when the kid got stuck up in a tree.  Usually an ambulance isn't called for cats or kids in trees, but in this case the kid started to fall from higher up, and caught his leg around a limb, breaking the tibula-fibula.  The fire crew was there with the ladder, but because the kid was complaining about his leg so much, they wanted us to go up and splint it before extracting him.
    There's a routine for entering any injury scene, called the ABCD's-Airway, Breathing, Circulation, Disabilities.  We could hear the kid crying, so we know he had the A, B, and C part down.  The fireman reported his lower leg was twisted, which was indeed a pretty good sign his leg was broken, as far as Disabilities go.  But EMT's aren't allowed to diagnose anything, so it was a "possible tib-fib painful swollen extremity."
    Larry had done so many climbing type sports that he knew no fear when approaching the tree.  I knew fear, and was a lot less likely to end up like the kid, and possibly Larry, by climbing with 3 points touching at all times.  So Larry got to where the kid was before me, by climbing the tree, while I took the ladder.

    We had standard issue teddy bears donated to our squad to give to kids who were traumatized.  So Larry's first act was to pull one out of his fanny pack and hand it to the kid, and say in a stupid voice, "Hi!  I'm Super Bear, and I'm here to help get you out of the tree."
    The kid, who was probably about 12,  said, "How about splinting my leg so the fireman can get me out of here?"
    Larry then figured out that the kid was using too many hands holding onto the tree to be able to hold the bear.
    "I'll scout out the way to the ground," said Larry, in what I presume was supposed to be his Super Bear voice," and he threw the bear to the ground, and the waiting coterie of rubber necking loiterers had a laugh.

    There are a number of splints EMT's use, none of them specifically designed to be applied in a tree.  Some old ones we had were like a tube of air, blown up by mouth, like an air mattress.  There was a big one with traction in case someone broke their upper leg, but you couldn't get that on up there. There was even one that worked by sucking the air out of the plastic tube with a special pump, leaving a stiff bag of polystyrene beads as the support.
    We decided to go with the air splint, as it could be inflated by one of us while the other held it in position, with slight traction.  After it was inflated, I checked for a pulse on the top of his foot, to make sure his circulation wasn't compromised, and we handed him over to the fireman, who had a cooler hat and uniform and place in society than we did.
    After all that, we didn't take him to the hospital, since his parents had shown up, and decided to take him themselves, saving them a hefty transportation bill.  We were never supposed to encourage patients to leave our care, but the parents had the legal right to make the decision for the child, so there was nothing we could do.  
    Although I was an EMT for quite a few years, most of the calls were about like that one, except the extreme trauma of car accidents, and medical traumas including death.  While I could write of what those are like, they are not light reading.  I suppose TV shows like ER deal with those things regularly, but since I never watch hospital dramas, that's only conjecture...

Use this chart to find the next of the cartoons (first 47  entries) or the stories (starting with  1 A River Too Far 5 rows below week 8)
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Week 46
Week 47
(cartoon ends)
1. A River Too Far
2.The Reunion
3.The Daily Grind
4 The New Car and Treasure
5. The Big 
6. The old
7. The Ravine Runner 8. The Fabulous
Folk Festival
9. Druid
10. Goats of
Christmas Past
11. The Secret Six 12. The Great
White Hunters
13. The Old School
Lost in the City

What's in
a name?
The Curse of
Bently Manor
Shortbottom Possessed
The Lost
of Iraq
Phil Steen
for President!
Phil Steen
for Rehab
The Adventures
of Handiman
and Fiberwoman
Pirates of the Puget Sound
Building a platform, plank by plank
The Quest
for meaning
Larry and
Phil to
The Rescue
Hurrah for
the Reds,
Whites, and
How I spent
my summer
I am
trapped in
the Present
Help I am trapped
in the future
Nose of Death