Rescue Memories- You recognize the dead?

My early rescue calls happened on weekends during school and anytime during summer break.  Drinking was big in the 1970s and it was easy for kids in my high school to get it.  Extrication calls were common.  It’s how I was able to get extrication experience at that young age.  Hearing of a student killed in an accident wasn’t frequent, but it also wasn’t a surprise to hear.

Three accidents I can remember with people I recognized from my high school when they couldn’t find identification on the bodies.  Interestingly two of them involve trees and cars the other a trench collapse.

Cant remember which one was first, doesn’t matter anyway I guess.  It’s a call for a accident with injuries.  On scene the car is on the drivers side, partly bent around a very large diameter tree.  The roof crushed into the passenger compartment.

We were able to access the three girls inside from the rear window, they were clearly crushed and entrapped.  We would not be able to extricate them in time to be resuscitated.  One of the girls I couldn’t recognize due to her facial injuries.  To my surprise the other two didn’t have any injuries to the face and recognized them from school.  I didn’t socialize with them but did know their names.  Back then kids didn’t have identification from school or any kind as I remember.  Maybe a library card.

I told the rescue squad guys that I knew who the two girls were.  They were surprised.  “You recognize the dead?”  They had me report to the state trooper working the accident and relay the information.  Another car crash, another tree, this time head on.  The driver was another student I didn’t spent time with but recognized.  He was hanging out the front window on his side, looked like he was asleep.

Trench collapse, when we arrive people are digging franticly.  The trench walls keep falling in more.  There was a backhoe on scene.  The trench ran parallel to the roadway.  Our lead rescue guy owned the same backhoe.  He cleared everybody out and started working parallel to the trench pulling back all the loose soil that kept falling into the trench.

He dug for several minutes until it was cleared back enough to keep the side from collapsing in.  Then the hand digging began.  Maybe a few more minutes went by before the people in the trench pulled him out.  It was another student from my school.  This time I didn’t have to tell anyone who it was the family was already there.

The first time trench experience watching someone emerge from the earth is indelible.  -13

Rescue Memories- Racist in the car?

One my most interesting and powerful experiences in the rescue field happened when I was in high school.  11th grade shop class, teacher rushes out of his office, singles out two others and myself.  I’m thinking the way he yelled at us there was going to be trouble.  “Get in my office!”

We go into the office, he’s yelling about something we didn’t do.  That never happened.  As he is doing this my friends and I move into the middle part of the office as the teacher pulls chalkboards on wheels in front of the windows at each end of the office.  From outside you can’t see in.

The yelling stops and his whole disposition changes.  He tells us to have a seat, get comfortable, offers us a cigarette and starts talking.  The guy got to know us and shared what was going on with him and his wife dying of cancer.  These became regular meetings.  We’re in trouble in the classroom, in the office have a seat and a smoke.  That guy was really going through hell it’s interesting he confided in us.

We were told not to mention the office except to say how bad the experience was.  He also asked us to befriend a student who had lost his mother in a car crash during the summer break.  We already had, I recognized him from the accident.  I was on the extrication truck that responded that day.  This student I’ll call, Accuser.  We welcomed Accuser to hang out with us.  We didn’t fit in with the jocks, the preppies, druggies, none of them.

Some time passes.  Accuser starts hanging out with the druggies, skipping shop class.  It was sad to see that happen.  For several weeks I had a crush on a girl that I could see if I went the long way to my next class after shop.  From shop class it was about a 20 second walk to the exit.

I head out the door going on my way and from around the corner comes six guys after me.  One guy yelled at me to stop.  I could tell it was going to be trouble but I wasn’t going to run.  I stood and faced them.  It was one of those situations where there’s a bully guy and the followers.  One of them was Accuser.  The leader an older student I’ll call Bully was telling me how he was going to beat me up.

From the same corner of the building the guys came from out comes my shop teacher with a large piece of wood in his hand.  He rushed up to confront the other students.  It was like Buford Pusser I thought he was going to kick their asses.  Shop teacher asked me how I wanted to handle the situation.  I told him they’re dumb as shit send them back to class.  He did with a stern warning he’d come looking for them if they gave me any more trouble.

My shop teacher had been smoking outside that day and lucky for me he had overheard the plot to kick my ass.  He caught it as it was happening.  His delay in confronting them immediately was so he could get what was actually a staff from his office then see if they were really up to no good.  Once he saw they were confronting me is when he rushed in to help.

I had never interacted with Bully. Never not sure what his issue was.  Never found out.  Less than two weeks later I get called to the school principals office.  When I get there I’m asked to sit in the end seat of a ten seat boardroom table.  I do, sitting on my right are Accuser and Bully.  This is going to be interesting and fascinating as it gets.

The principal sits at the other end of the table.  He tells me the students sitting on my right are accusing me of racism.  Of being a racist.  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. It was amazing.  I looked away from the principal, then directly at Accuser and said “Do you want to stick by that story?”  He says “Yes you’re a racist.”

Okay I said then explained how we arrived on the scene of a car crash.  How that car was wrapped around a tree with a little boy trapped inside.  The side of the car had been pushed around him, the roof inches away from his head.  His mother dead in the front seat.

How there was just enough room for me to squirrel my way in.  The other rescue workers were going to extricate while I would do what I could inside.  I applied a dressing on his forehead and covered as much of him as I could for protection with a blanket then held his hand.

I then asked Accuser if he remembered hearing any of these words the day of his accident.  I’m with the rescue squad, you’ve been involved in an accident.  Stay calm we are going to get you out of here.  I’m going to stay with you until we get you out of this, you’re safe now we won’t let any thing happen to you, we’re going to get you to a hospital.

Accuser sitting there, tears streaming down his cheeks.  That was you he asked?  I told him that it was me who had said that to you and held your hand. Still in disbelief someone would think that of me I asked him if he really believed I was a racist.  He said no he had made it up under pressure from the Bully.  I looked at the Bully, he had a look of shock on his face, the principal had tears in his eyes.

There was questioning by the principal.  That’s what you do he ask me about the rescue squad?  I told him yes, I didn’t care about doing anything else.  I was asked to leave the room but stay in the office area.  Shop teacher shows up at the main desk and ask what I’m doing sitting outside the principals office.  I tell him, he barges into the principals office.  About ten or fifteen minutes later I’m back in the office answering questions about the incident when they were going to beat me up.

I answered the questions and was told to return to class.  That was on a Friday, when we returned to school shop teacher said those two were in a lot more trouble than the things I knew of.  They must have been suspended because they never returned there.  The rumor was they had been sent to a boys home type place.

I’m glad I thought to write this one down.  I would have never have brought up that I was the one in the car that day with Accuser if he hadn’t said what he did.  It’s not important to me in any way that a person know I had anything to do with a treatment or rescue.  I don’t need recognition or thanks.  That kind of attention makes me uncomfortable.  My satisfaction and fulfillment comes from having participated and helped another person when they really need it.

It’s interesting how things in life happen like this experience.  I wonder how things would have tuned out if I hadn’t been at the rescue squad that day.  Racist in the car?  Not here.  -13

Rescue Memories- Report to the principals office immediately

High school.  One more year and it will be over.  We’ve just changed classes and are settling into the classroom.  Our high school had a communication system so that each classroom could be contacted individually.  The tone alerts the teacher, she picks up the handset starts speaking with someone and starts looking at me.  She hangs up the handset and instructs me to report to one of the assistant principals office immediately.

They knew at the time I had Red Cross Advanced First Aid and CPR training and was part of the rescue squad explorers.  A couple times I’d helped the school nurse when no one else could handle the blood and open wound.  Once there was a girl who brought a kitchen knife from home and cut her wrist in the bathroom and a boy lost half a finger on the band-saw.  I was amazed by the clean cut it made.  Those were the only two time until then.

I get to the principals office expecting something bloody or an impaled object, something.  The principal is in an emotional state, it was easy to see he was gravely concerned.  He ask me if I knew a particular student or the students whereabouts.  I knew her and didn’t know where she was.  We left the school building and went to his car.

He had not said anything about what was going on.  At the car he said that he wanted me to go with him to the students home address and a few other places to look for her.  I was very surprised that he would have me in the car looking for her.  I asked what was going on.  He talked around the topic and never answered.  He kept focusing on where she might be.

We went to some horse stables, a park.  I began to suspect she had threatened suicide and he didn’t want to say it to me.  We went to her home, she wasn’t there.  I told him how I would deal with it whatever was going on because I was getting the sense she was in danger.  We had been gone for three hours.  I missed a class, lunch and the after lunch class.  He realized he had to call the police and did.

Still don’t know what happened to her.  Not rumors, nothing.  She never came back to school.  What an experience to have the principal call me out of class then use his car to look for a student.  At the time it seemed odd and thought it had something to do with suicide.  Now that I’m older I think its possible he could have been a mentor or possibly a lover.  That’s the 1970s for you.  -13

 

 

Rescue Memories- Body pops up, hearse arrives on scene.

My hometown rescue squad had a mutual aid call for personnel and equipment to assist in a mass drag operation to locate a motorcyclist who had gone over the rail of a bridge crossing a large lake.  I spent my time helping load equipment onto boats, stocking a converted panel van used for onsite communication and serving hot meals for search/drag missions, packing POV’s.  Everything was ready we’d leave before sunrise so the boats could be launched as soon as there was enough light.

We arrived at the boat launch, things got under way, I did what I was told to do next thing I know is we’re in the boat.  There was 20 boats or so.  I was with two of my favorite mentors.  I’m thinking this is going to be great.  I’m going to get to hang out with these guys and learn how to drag for bodies.  We had some snacks and cola drinks in a small cooler.  We were ready to drag for a while.

This my favorite part of the experience.  We get to where our boat is going to start dragging.  My mentors are going over the drag and how to use it.  Most of the boats were typically as I remember them, a wider Jon boat so two could sit in the middle and lower the drag over the edge, not sure how long.  There I am with the drag in hand watching the guy sitting next to me put his drag into the water.  He starts to lower it, I think to myself I got it, no problem.

I start to move the drag, if you’ve never seen a drag it looks like a fence stretcher without the fence hooks.  In place of the fence hooks are four welded rings to tie on heavy cord attached to three prong hooks.  The hooks hang down about 12″ or so.  It’s cumbersome and hard to keep the lines separate.  I finally get the drag into the water.  I keep it at the top for a moment to get a feel for how it would handle in the water.

From behind me the other mentor operating the boat says look up.  I did, I looked up over at the other boats.  Not there he said, down there in front of you in the water about four or five feet away.  There he was.  Face down, blue jeans, leather jacket, long blond hair.  The boat operator told us to get our drags in the boat.  My drag hadn’t been more that a foot or so deep it was in the boat like I’d done it before.  Couldn’t believe it.

Mentor sitting next to me was pulling his drag in.  I was told to get ready to grab the body.  It was really exciting.  We’re inching our way over to the guy we came looking for as he floats next to our boat.  Wow I think as grab the waistline of his jeans.  “Don’t let go!” they remind me.  We wait for a larger boat to come over and help remove, then transport the body to shore.  All the preparation and the anticipation boiled down to our boat being on site for couldn’t have been more than ten minutes and me playing with a drag like a kid with a bobber.

There were more drag missions after that but not like that one.  What an experience, it was amazing.  I had some fantastic first time experiences in the rescue field.  Thinking of this story reminds me of another call I responded to a few years later.

At the time there were only 2 regular rescue squad members that were SCUBA certified, I had received my certification in 1979.  After having spent some time with me on emergency runs the other divers invited me to start spending time with them on projects away from the rescue squad.  Projects recovering lost objects, minor underwater repairs, boat cleaning, working in open water.

They had me doing surface task.  Simple things like cleaning, setting up equipment, basic stuff.  They were testing me to see if I would get sick on the water and if I actually had some aptitude when the pressure is on.  As time passed I was allowed to train with them in the local indoor pool.  I couldn’t believe I got my parents permission.  The guys came over to my home to talk with them about it.  They needed help.

They had a few things in mind for me at the time.  Be ready to dive if one diver was in trouble I was to dive and assist the other diver with rescue, the ability to remove a body from a car and how to hook a car for recovery by tow truck.  Dam that’s a long winded way to get to the point.  I have to include those details so others can see how things happen.

By now I have a station wagon and drivers license.  The station wagon was a hand me down and is cool as far as I’m concerned.  I’m wondering what I was going to do, it was a weekend and none of the rescue squad crews that let me respond to calls were working.  I was cleaning the car when my mom called out to me to answer the phone.  It didn’t sound good from the tone of her voice.

It was a rescue dispatcher asking me to report to a location in the deep boonies near the river.  I was to bring all dive equipment there had been a witnessed drowning.  When I arrived there were a few rescue trucks and a Jon boat pulling in ahead of me.  The area was a small pond size like area that lead out to the river.  I met with one of the divers and was informed the boat would be launched by hand and we’d dive for the body.

We! He said.  My heart started pounding I was thinking that I don’t know anything.  I’m dumb as a rock look at me get what I asked for.  The other diver was not coming and they  were seemed to be sure the body would be close by.  My mentor wouldn’t dive alone so we put on the gear were taken to where the victim was last seen by boat.

I had an underwater light that used a lantern battery it worked good.  Had a nice focused beam of light.  We’re in the water, going over the plan, safety, all the important stuff.  We go below the surface into black water.  Visibility 12″-14″ at most.  Had to be very close to see anything clearly.  Since it was black water we stayed in physical contact.

On the bottom we’re feeling around when the scene from Jaws ran though my mind where Hooper happens across the body in the boat.  I thought “how am I going to react when the guy with the eye popped out is going to come out of nowhere.”  We were down, 30-35′ for 24 minutes when I get a tug on my arm.  The other diver pulls my hand over to grab an ankle.  We try to swim to the surface and have a difficult time the guy weighs maybe 250 pounds.  We attach a marking line, go the surface for rope.

Once the rope is tied on the body we surface.  I’m facing the direction where we parked.  Perfectly framed in my dive mask are two guys, arms crossed leaning on a hearse backed up close to where they were going to load the body.  There was something about that moment.  When I went underwater I was looking in that direction it was all rescue equipment.  On the surface a hearse and two guys waiting to load another body.

Once the body was in the hearse we rolled up our equipment and left for the station for clean up and a post-mortem of the call.  The hearse guys had me going.  They had that, how much longer is this going to take look.  Another fun memory from way back. -13

Austere Medicine: Mega Medic Bag – Kit Contents

I finally got around to finishing this bag and making a video!  On June 3rd of 2016 I posted a product review video of the Mega Medic bag.  At the time it was sitting empty, we had decided our medical supplies and equipment needed to be changed and updated based on how the use of the kits evolved over the previous 5-8 years.  Most of the kits had been used out of a rescue truck for a project we were working on.

When I made the review video I gathered various medical items that fit into the different parts of the bag to demonstrate the possibilities of what could be kept there.  The items shown weren’t a set up ready-to-go kit.  I already had a list for the kit contents but didn’t have everything I wanted.  Some of the items on hand had reached it’s useful life.

Recently after reading a video comment on the kit I had never seen before I checked to see what was needed to finish this kit.  Triangle bandages.  That was all.  Trying to keep track of medical inventory without a computer may put me in a straight jacket.  After replacing and restocking items the kit was finally ready.  How is that for a swift kick in the pants?

BRAVO

B Compartment

The kit is an extension of the aid bag.  This is considered our Trauma Kit and builds on splinting, bandaging, eye, dental, large wounds, burns.  Can be resupply or used as is.  It is based on several kits from past experience.  It may be hard to imagine but nearly every item in this kit could be expended on one incident.

Some of the kits from the past using the same bag had more of the bandaging and splinting materials.  Those kits had been based on, in part, by proximity to a military base and a direct flight path where helicopters and transport aircraft that could hold hundreds of soldiers could and sometimes did go down.

Then there is the, being the only one there and no one is coming. To the rural 20,000 person county, only 5 people qualified to operate two ambulances with the nearest mutual aid unit 30 minutes away, no air support.  Standing there after a mass casualty incident looking around and seeing empty aid bags and bandaging supply wrappers among the carnage leaves a lasting impression.

ALPHA

Alpha compartment, why we use those pouches

During the same time we were updating our kits we were able to find several different type packing organizers on sale at Marshalls store.  After using a few of them we went back to that store and many others within our local area and bought whatever stock they had in the store.

Those finds allowed us to keep items protected in ziploc bags and create mini kits without having a kit full of ziploc bag mess.  Multiples of one type item or a kit made of several different components they’ll work well for many common items.

LG ZIP POUCH

Double side bandaging pouch (Go Travel Packing Pouch no.3)

The bag above was one of the last pouches found.  As it’s packed it works very well, 8 rolls Kerlix, 12 5×9 Surgipads, 20 4×4 sponges.  I’ve looked for more and can’t find them.  The pouch below is what was used before we found the pouch above.  The dressings were packed the same way they are shown, the Kerlix was packed like the double side pouch, 8 rolls in a ziploc bag.

The smaller pouches have items like tape, self adhesive, triangle and elastic bandages.  The bandage pouches are very handy for bandaging purposes or resupply.  Glad we found them when we did.

SM ZIP POUCH

Single side bandaging pouch (Travelon Packing Organizers Set-Small)

CD CASE

CD Case

I’ve been looking at ways to store the instant compresses for years.  When the portable CD cases became available I found out they worked well.  If the internal storage sleeves are removed there is room for two instant compresses.  All I had to do to get this type case to work was remove the sleeves from the rivets that were simple to pull out by hand.

At first I used a metal case but it added weight and was too stiff to fit in multiple spaces.  When these softer type plastic cases became available I tried one.  Discovered that I liked it better.  It has more flexibility and can fit into tighter spaces than the metal case.  For the type of compress and CD case chosen its simple to get them into the case.  First, I arrange the liquid part of the compress in one half of the bag and the dry ingredients in the other then, fold in half.

CASE FOLD

Case open showing how compress is packed

Place both compresses in the case then close it.  As shown below it works good.  The compress is protected from punctures and abrasion and it’s easy to see the contents.  I usually look for things like this at the outlet stores but ordered these off eBay for consistency.

CASE CLOSED

Case packed with 2 compresses

This kit has one 18″ and two 36″ SAM splints that can be used in many different ways and can be custom cut with the trauma shears.  Very handy to have on hand.  They beat the old ice cream scoop, vinyl covered wood, blow-up doll, waxed cardboard splints any day.

SPLINT

FareTec CT-6

REEL COMPACT

REEL Splint

The two photos above show the traction splints kept in or with the trauma kit.  The FareTec and the REEL splints are surplus finds.  If you’re looking to stock your kit check out eBay and the surplus stores.  Make sure all the parts are there before you buy, get new if at all possible.  Couldn’t give a price on either of these.  eBay as I shockingly found out only keeps auction records for 3 years not a running tally like amazon.

EYE DENTURE

Dental / Eye Kit

In the photo above are the contents of the dental and eye kit.  The denture case can be used for dentures, loose teeth or prosthetic eyes.  There is a sclearal cup for removing contacts and prosthetic eyes.  A case for contacts and a 10x magnified mirror.

Two eye shields and two food service 16 ounce cups for covering injured eyes.  Those things can work well for keeping eyes protected.  Some of the eye injuries I’ve seen makes me want these in stock at all times.  Not shown are the sterile eye cups, the Sal-jet rinse 30ml saline vials or the Refresh Plus eye drops.

Most items in the kit have multiple uses.  Dressing like the trauma and surgipad make good splint padding.  The surgical CSR wraps in the kit to make clean working space can be used to protect wounds.  A mylar blanket as an occlusive dressing.  The list is endless.

SEAL

Security Sealed Kit

Security seals are an important part of our medical system.  The seals are tightly controlled and numbered.  A strict system is in place, only a couple of people here are allowed to seal a kit.  That way when one of the kits need to be used and the seal is intact we can be assured the contents will be there.

The seals used in the video are not the same seals used on our bags.  They’re from old stock and are used for training.  They work the same as fire extinguisher seals, twist or pull on the seal and it will break easily.  If you get some, get numbered if possible it will help in case someone else has the same type/color seals.

A word of caution, be careful where they are placed on zippers they can break zipper parts easy.

CASE OPEN

Hardigg AL3018-0905

The Trauma Kit is kept in a cabinet or could be stored and transported in a heavy duty case with the REEL splint, a MOLLE 2 pack frame, various color pack covers, a quick litter in a dump pouch and a small tarp to place the contents onto.  The case is stored with the gasket out, if left in place it compresses under the weight of the other cases and is not as effective over time.

Seems like that covers the items I felt I left out of the video.  I don’t want to repeat the video here.  I would rather people watch the video, then read the blog after to see what was left out.  Clearly I don’t write scripts for these videos, just an item name, maybe a note.  If there are any changes or updates in the future they’ll be posted.  The new video is below.  -13

Other video project featuring the Mega Medic bag are below.

Product review video.

Video of MOLLE 2 pack modifications.

Rescue Memories- The door opens.

Digging deep for this one.  How I found my way into emergency services.  Not sure when the desire hit me.  The first time I saw someone cut in half was when I was five.  My father confirmed this and all the details of that memory.  Could it be that was the influence?  Or maybe it had to do with the dogs stitches coming out, seeing her intestines on the floor, my mother in a panic?

Also remember at a young age playing with military medical equipment, OD green I.V. poles, tent smelling folding stretchers, instruments, respiratory.  Nothing sharp, things like towel clamps and scalpel blades were removed.  There were boxes of it around.

Wow! This is a big surprise.  As that last paragraph was written a memory came back.  Some friends from the neighborhood would come over to my house.  We would each pretend to be victims of car and helicopter crashes.  Fallen down cliffs, gun shot wounds and other craziness.  While the other ones in the group would be the medics.  We would practice bandaging and trying to carry the others.  That’s nuts.

My dad was infantry and not medical in any way.  There were retired and active duty family friends in the medical fields.  Boy Scout leaders were all former military guys.  I must have expressed interest, one day medical “toys” started showing up in boxes with an education on each item.  This would have been before I would have been allowed to explore the neighborhood on my own.

Those memories are from earlier times in my life.  Moving into the more recent memory and series of events that lead me directly into the door of a rescue squad building and a dream come true.  I must have been 13-14 years old.  Able to walk the neighborhood by myself on foot or bicycle.  Some cousins lived about 7 blocks away.  Not far.

The street that leads to my cousins house crosses another at their home.  When I get there I have to stop and check for traffic first, the house directly across the street.  No traffic I start to cross the street and hear screaming coming from the direction I’m walking.  I get scared as I get closer to the house because the screams are coming from there.

Hesitating at first I ran up the side of the house and listened.  The windows were open.  My cousins mom was yelling at my cousins about how bad they were.  My cousins crying in pain begging for mercy.  It was horrible.  I didn’t know what to do so I ran back home.

There was no one home, no one to talk to.  Wasn’t much into t.v., only made an effort to watch This Old House.  Out of the ordinary, turned on the television.  Wish I could remember what year it was and what episode was watched but I don’t.  The good part was I had tuned in as the opening of the show was on so the scenes and siren sounds made me stop on the channel.

The show was Emergency!  The t.v. show about the early days of paramedics in the U.S.A.  People in the station, getting emergency calls.  While watching that show something happened to me.  Something changed.  A sense of knowing of where you belong.

It felt like my brain was spinning inside my skull like symbols on a slot machine.  After the show was over I couldn’t wait to tell my mom about it, then dad.  It was a few weeks before I was able to get my dad to watch the show with me.  There wasn’t much feedback  from him on the topic.  I seemed to be the only one enthusiast about it.  I kept watching and talking about the show all the time.

Out of nowhere my dad picks me up and we head over to fire station 4 to meet a family friend.  Captain gives me a station and engine tour.  Not much time passes before I’m allowed to spend short periods of time at the station and sometimes ride to calls with the fire chief if he was over for dinner.

Not long after that I’m on base in station 2 with Engineer.  Learning what a shift is really like.  Due to the unique situation I was able to spend hours at this station.  Experienced some of the most impressionable moments in my life there.  Cannot believe how lucky I was then.

The guys liked to let me answer the phone when the dispatcher was calling so they could mess with them.  “Station 2”.  Silly fun.  This continued until I was maybe 15.  I had learned to read the old ticker-tape alarm system still connected to the station.  Then word came down.  World is changing.  Transfer out or retire station 2 will be closing.

That’s what happened.  The old wooden T-building hospital had been removed.  Station 2 was close by in case it went up.  The new hospital was a single structure of modern materials closer to station 1.  Only thing missing was an aerial.  That came after the new hospital opened.

Spending time around station 2 put me in contact with others in the department.  Having expressed an interest in becoming a paramedic firefighter like the guys I’d seen on television I was introduced to Rescue.  Rescue was a cool dude.  He had an earring, talked cool and owned a restaurant.  Was the only person I connected with after everyone else had left.

He like me because of my interested in the paramedic and rescue part of the fire department.  Most of the people he worked with were not interested in it.  I could not get enough.  Things had changed so that I was not able to get to station 1 as much as I wanted when Rescue was working.

Rescue was getting near retirement and wanted to run his restaurant.  I went to the station when he was on shift whenever I could until he retired.  Learned as much as I could about rescue.  It was a fantastic experience.  It was time to go to high school.

In our high school we had an official smoking area.  Students and teachers could go there and smoke cigarettes.  I wonder what all the uptight people would think of that now days?  Anyway, back to the memories.  I did not smoke but would go out there with friends that did during breaks.

Following my friend into the smoking area she leans against a post.  She’s smoking.  We’re not speaking, both of us listening to the sound multiple voices make when talking at the same time.  That restaurant chatter sound.

Behind me I hear a girl talking about something like a scene out of the Emergency T.V. show.  Hearing bits and details I couldn’t help but eavesdrop on the conversation.  The girl speaking was telling an exciting story about a car accident she had been too and what they had done.

I interrupted the conversation and told her I was eavesdropping and wondered if she would tell me more.  She did, introduced herself as president of the local rescue squad explorer scouts and invited me to a meeting.  Local explorer scouts president had opened the door and invited me in.  Turns out the rescue squad was as close as I could get to what I wanted at the time.

The rescue squad did everything but treat and transport patients.  Extrication, firefighting, searches, dragging for persons suspected of drowning. Any kind of rescue.  An amazing opportunity to experience first hand real emergencies.  That is how I came to respond to that first emergency call.  The door was opened and I kept showing up. -13

Over-the-Counter Medications Kit

After setting up to make the Aid Bag video I realized it would be easy to make a quick video about the over-the-counter kit.  Been waiting to make it.  Thought it would be longer, the video is a short 3:50.  Could have made it much sooner.

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Hanging Toiletry Organizer/Over-the-counter meds kit

The kit is 14 3/4″ x 27″, has 9 zippered pockets, no issues.  It’s polyester on the outside and what looks like a cotton/polyester liner.  The hook at the top was changed to something that would work better for our intended use.  It its not heavy duty.  The quality is more for home items so it should hold up well for this purpose.  May be difficult to clean, all ointments once removed from original packaging usually get put into a vacuum or ziplock bag.

May add two more loops at the hook end toward the outer edge.  This could be used with other snap hooks or a metal bar to offer better support for long term hanging.  The organizer was purchased from the Container Store and was available before this was posted.

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Modified hook

When working emergency service calls I kept a small quantity of Tylenol, aspirin, Tums, Bag Balm, Chap Stick, Imodium, Benadryl, and an unknown brand wetting eye drops.  Could have been Murine.  That was my personal kit.  I learned the hard way that once you leave the station in a rescue, an engine or ambulance, if you do not have it with you in the boonies, no one is going to bring it to you.  Toilet paper, socks, water, food, anything essential.  In some of the areas, everyone showed up on scene and that was it.  No more help was coming.  We were it.

In station over the years a master kit with multiple selections was made.  Most of it had to do with personal preference or suggestion.  The selection of pain relievers came from personal experience with them.  Aspirin seems to work better than any of the others for my dental pains.  The others are for other body pains and rotation so I’m not using the same one consistently.

IvyX was added and never used.  No way to report on how well it works.  Several times the stock on hand will dry out and then has to be restocked.  The mensuration kit has pads and tampons, sometimes adults leave unprepared and youth experience puberty at  all times of the day or night.  Partially responsible for adult personnel health a good medic knows the importance of keeping a high quality supply of condoms.  People are people, nothing we can do to stop that, but we can help prevent other options if the product works.

The kit is kept easy to access in our homestead medical area along with all our first response equipment and is ready to go anywhere on a moments notice.  A short video is below.  -13

 

Rescue Memories- First Run

Rescue memories.  Something that happens sometimes when I handle medical or firefighting equipment.  Had some good ones today, then had the desire to write these memories down before I forget them.

This evening my thoughts drifted into the cab of the mini-pumper.  It was night, I was sitting between two rescue squad members, me an explorer scout.  It was my first time out on an emergency run.  This is fantastic I thought, we are racing to a call for a structure fire and they’re letting me operate the siren.  Never will forget the siren.  A Federal Intercepter.  It had a really low budget looking P.A. mic and a blazing red light on it a the top.  The bulb that lit the red lens also lit the face.  If the control was moved just right it would make some really unique sounds.

We’re off the main road and no signs of a structure fire.  By now if it was a working fire we would have seen the glow.  They thought on the way that it was a local arsonist that had started a fire.  Once we arrived at the address of the reported fire there was none.  Then they began to think that this was the false call just before the arson that would take place in a completely different direction of what was about to happen in another part of the county.

There is all this talk now days about situational awareness.  How is this for a 15 year old. Sitting in the driveway of the house that was reported on fire the crew chief was calling in the false call.  When dispatch answered back I could hear a voice in the background.  Focused on her voice instead of the dispatcher speaking to us and hear this “…10-46 Highway 48 & 13…”. She was dispatching the sheriff’s department.

Crew chief hung up the mic.  I turned to him and said we’d better get going, we were about to get a call for a 10-46(vehicle accident with injuries) on 48 & 13.  He gave me a look, then “dispatch – 27” Dispatch gave us the call to the accident.  We had passed there about 10 minutes ago.  The guys I was with couldn’t believe what happened.

We were on-scene in about 3 minutes.  Would have arrived sooner but fire equipment can not be driven very fast on winding country roads.  Some of them old wagon trails turned into roads.  Since we were in a pumper we did not have extrication equipment.  That was in a van dispatched from the station at the same time we were.

When we arrived we discovered a head on two vehicle accident.  A car with the front end crushed on the east side of the road facing north west.  A compact pickup truck in the south bound lane facing south. There was glass and car parts all over the highway.  The pumper driver gave an arrival report over the radio.  The crew chief got out of the cab, I followed.  We began to approach the car since it was closest.  What looked like a bystander turned out to be the driver.  Didn’t have a scratch.  Nothing.  Was wearing a seatbelt.

Seeing how calm crew chief was really helped me be that way.  Crew chief went to say something to the pump operator.  I could hear unbelievable screaming coming from the truck.  Said to him I was going to see what was going on and find out where those screams were coming from.  He gave me the okay and I was off.

For a moment I couldn’t believe it.  That I was actually on the scene of a real emergency.  Here I was in a bunker coat, pull up boots and a firefighting helmet.  The only official training I had then was the American Red Cross advanced first aid course and CPR.  Hanging out at the military and civilian fire stations, military family friends in the medical field and boy scout mentors who had been in Vietnam had spoiled me with some really cool surplus and knowledge as well.  It paid off.

Walking toward the truck the screaming is loud, it’s a woman.  My CPR training let me know she had a pulse and respirations.  My focus turned to the driver.  The front of the truck is flat up to the bottom of the windshield.  As I got closer to the truck the driver became visible through the drivers door window.  There was a man that appeared to be unconscious.

Soon as I saw him I quickly moved to the drivers side of the truck.  To my surprise the door opened.  Pushed the door out of the way, had a bystander hold it for me.  The screaming was something to experience to understand.  Blocking out the outer sounds trying to remember the training.  Quickly looking around there is a big lump of something in the truck cab blocking my view of the woman legs.  It is setting between them resting on the console.

Looking at the woman screaming from my position it’s clear to see why she is screaming like that.  The top portion of her skull is visible.  Her scalp has been partially avulsed.  My focus goes back to the driver.  The steering wheel outer ring had been pushed forward and was bent out of shape.  Then it was clear, the thing setting between them was the engine.  The whole thing.

Checking for a pulse and respirations, there are none.  Checked again, none.  Oh no, I thought what am I going to do now?  Self doubt flooded me.  The other rescue squad members were setting up to charge a line for safety.  I went to them to ask for assistance to verify that the man was in fact in cardiac and respiratory arrest.

Neither of the crew I was with had CPR training.  The self doubt that I had before I spoke with them became worse.  This was the 70’s not everyone was trained the same back then.  Explaining the situation to crew chief the self doubt went away when he instructed me to follow my training.

Along with some bystanders we pulled him out and I alone started CPR.  The first trouble I had was finding the landmarks used to place hands for compressions.  There were none.  Turns out the steering wheel deformity was caused by the drivers chest.  Providing respirations, mouth-to-mouth, no barrier was an experience I will never repeat again.  The drivers bloody vomit was a true test of my willpower.  Never vomited myself.  Never have on an emergency run.

CPR was continued until the driver was turned over to the ambulance crew.  They gave me a bottle of sterile water to rinse out my mouth.  29 the extrication van arrived then we removed the passenger and put her in the same ambulance.  As soon as they left we received a call for a car fire.

When we arrived it was fully involved.  Looked like a car blow torch.  The crew I was with were so impressed they let me work the nozzle and put out the fire.  It was better than any roller coaster ride I’ve ever been on.  What a memorable night that was so glad I remembered it.  -13

Product Review / Kit Contents Dyna Med Maxi-Medic Bag BG087

Dyna Med Maxi-Medic Bag Model BG087.

This product review and kit contents were inspired by the project to update our medical equipment and supplies.

The Maxi-Medic is good durable bag suitable for many types of medical kits. It is 1000 denier nylon.  Measures 9″H x 20″L x 12″W.  Side Pocket: 6″H x 12″L x 2 1/2″W.  Main compartment: 9″H x 14″L x 12″W.  Lid Pocket: 5 1/2″ x 9″.  The first time I can remember using one of these was sometime in the early 1980’s.  Maybe ’81-’82?  In the late 70’s early 80’s services were still using the recycled television and radio tube heavy duty plywood cases and surplus canvas M5’s that always had that canvas tent smell.  Look them up online, can’t find any images to use here.

Back to the present.  No issues with the zippers, good quality YKK.  No issues with stitching.  Wish the webbing went all the way around to support the bag better, no issues to report.  The mesh zippered pocket on the lid of the bag works well.  Based on my experience the zipper should be near the hinge part of the lid.  It would be much better to use in that position.

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Lid pocket

One hand could be used to open, close or retrieve contents in an unsupported way.  Also reducing the possibility of loosing valuable items if the zipper fails or is not properly closed.  In the current position contents would spill out of the pocket and bag.  With the zipper located near the hinge loose contents would have a better chance to fall into the bag and prevent loss or damage.

In the photo below the lid was opened in the usual way.  The lid was held up with one hand, the pocket unzipped by the other.  Once unzipped the lid was let go of.  The items are not staged they are exactly how they fell out of the pocket.

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Natural position of lid in the open position, zipper open.

Here is why I have to follow up the video with a blog.  Since I don’t use the feature and the other hook part of hook/loop has been removed from the bravo compartment foam insert I forgot to mention this in my notes.  Something made me remember it.

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Knuckle scratcher.

One of the reasons I do not use hook/loop for most things is the hook part.  It can be very irritating if located in the wrong place.  If they would place the loop part inside the insert and hook on the divider it wouldn’t scratch fingers and knuckles.  The hook/loop should also be on both sides that way the divider can be completely removed.  If not is has to be folded to the side and takes up valuable storage space.  Why I usually cut them out.

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Where the divider stops when using.

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Divider taking up storage space. Must be forced into position.

 

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Paracord zipper pull.

Added paracord zipper pulls to make life easier.  No problems with zippers as long as I don’t do the jerky-high-speed-mofo kind of crap or loose my cool when the zipper hits a snag.  The longevity of this bag depends on two things, flawless construction and end user handling of the bag.  Like anything, abused- it won’t last long, taken care of= years of service.

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Shoulder strap, carry handle.

It does have a shoulder strap that is removable and adjustable.  This shoulder strap has held up well, so has the carry handle.

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Shoulder strap hardware.

 

 

 

More about the video on this bag and contents.  Had no idea it would be so long, 41:22.  It’s a sleep generator for sure.  Maybe with better notes it could have been made shorter.  At this point it is edited and ready to go so it will stay like it is.

Making a video that includes the many reasons items are in the kit would take hours.  I’m trying to speak in layman’s terms and keep it very basic.  In part the video was made to share how others do things.  It is never meant for instruction or teaching anyone how to do it.  I think the content of the video is great for inspiration and to make a decision on wether this bag would suit your particular situation.  For how-to do things there is nothing like in-person, hands-on, training and experience.

The scope-of-practice for this kit has evolved over years.  It’s for use at any time, has most of the initial bandage basics and vital sign instruments.  Usually my starting place for all things medical related.  It is for medical issues that have presented many times.  In station aid, medical coverage at public events, emergency service calls.  People asking for anti-acids for heartburn, a toothpick or length of dental floss to pick out a piece of popcorn kernel or meat.  Band-aids for the stubbed toe or skinned knee.  A condom.  Blood pressure checks.  Sometimes cardiac arrest.  20+ years working with domestic, native and exotic animals in many roles.

I start with this kit and use other kits as needed.  If there is a respiratory issue the airway, the oxygen and aspirator kit will be at hand.  Trauma beyond this kit, spine boards, trauma kit, cervical collars, etc. depending on what is presenting.  Writing the last two lines is why I don’t get into specifics in the video.  The list of situations and possibilites becomes endless and exhaustive.  Back to the video.

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Vital sign instruments.

Working correctly the pulse oximeter and blood pressure monitor can be accurate.  They’re here to complement patient feedback, palpation, my stethoscope and sphygmomanometer along with the other digital age technology.  All of them producing life saving information that could make a difference in outcome. These instruments provide: bowel/heart/lung sounds, blood pressure, blood oxygen saturation, pulse, temperature and blood glucose levels. The instruments may be the only way to get vital information from a lethargic or unconscious person.

They can also be used effectively by layperson with on-the-spot training.  A layperson doesn’t have to understand the results to obtain accurate ones with the battery operated devices.  Many of them were designed for the patient to use at home.  In austere conditions this capability could prove invaluable.

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Basic eye emergency kit.

Another item good to have on hand for those who use contact lens or prosthetic eye is the suction cup designed to remove hard contact lens and prosthetic eyes.  If the package is opened and handled correctly, the suction cup can be handled by a dirty hand to remove an eye or contact lens in an emergency without contaminating the eye, contact, or eye area.  This kit has a place to put contact lens or prosthetic eye after removal.  Wetting eye drops for the intended purpose or temporary storing the contact lens.  A way to cover and protect an injured eye or exposed socket tissue.  That’s the basic eye kit contents.

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This bag has common bandaging material I’ve seen in any hospital, clinic, ambulance, emergency room or aid station.  Splints, tapes, self-adhering/elastic/gauze bandaging materials and gauze dressings of various sizes.

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Travelon, Jewelry Roll/Adhesive bandage kit

The adhesive bandage (band-aid) kit is a small 10 1/2″ x 12 3/4″, 6 zippered pocket, tri-fold carry case.  It holds the adhesive bandage styles and sizes we’ve found covers all our small bandaging needs.  The most common thing treated out of the aid bag are finger lacerations.  Lots of band-aids and self-adhering wrap.

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Hot & Cold Compress

Other items that have been useful are the instant hot/cold compresses.  For the bumps, sprains, cramps and whatever else.  No heating or freezing required.  Also kept in the kit are washcloths.  Everyday washcloths, for their intended purpose and to use as an insulator with the compresses.  Wetting the washcloth first helps transmit the heat or cold much better.  If you have not used them before remember they can damage the skin if used incorrectly and must be monitored.

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Finger ring cutter.  Miltex 33-140

Instruments like the finger ring cutter have turned many purple swollen fingers back to normal size and skin tone.  It will work for soft metals and works good.  Unless it’s a thick class ring or similar it will take less than a minute to get through gold, silver, or pot metal rings.  It will not work on titanium or ceramic.  We have vice grips in our extrication hand tool kit if becomes necessary for those rings.  When it comes to purchasing ring cutters, do not go for the lowest price cutter.  Go for the lowest price highest quality cutter.  Low budget cutters will let you down.

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Silicone collapsible bowls come in handy when a kidney bowl won’t fit in a kit.  These fit so well in the side pockets they were added the day they arrived.  Working out away from a base the bowls are perfect.  If they have to be disposed of no problem.

There are many other items in the bag covered briefly in the video and why this is ending here.  This blog would be longer than the video if that path was taken.  Each item or subject could go in many directions.  My default about any of the kit items or topics is this, get training, get experience.  Do that, everything in this kit will make sense. -13

Austere Medicine: Mega Medic Bag / MOLLE 2 Pack Frame Attachment Points

The first video I made on this bag.

 

The Dyna-Med Mega Medic bag is one of my favorite bags to use.  Only problem is when I pack the bag it gets heavy.  Sometimes 35+ pounds.  I need a better way to move the bag than hand or over shoulder carry with that kind of weight.

I have a broken MOLLE 2 pack frame I like to use for experiments so I don’t break a good one.  By chance I laid the frame next to the mega medic bag setting on a table one day.  It was easy to notice how close they were in size so I set the bag on top of the frame and this is the result.

A video how I modified the mega medic bag to attach to the MOLLE 2 pack frame.  It’s not a how-to, it’s a how I did it video.  The process was simple but time consuming.

Put the bag on the frame, pick the best spots to attach webbing.  Mark it, get the dimensions for the webbing, mark, then cut the pieces.  That process took maybe 45 minutes to an hour.  Once the webbing is ready its sewing time.

I knew sewing was going to go slow.  The pieces I’ve added would have been sewn on much sooner in the assembly process reducing the time drastically.  The time was no problem since quality/accuracy is more important to me than speed.  The webbing straps make it easy to attach to the MOLLE 2 frame.  Think this took more like an hour plus but I’m not sure.

I did notice over the last few videos how bad the audio is so I’ll attempt to make it better. Several issues there that must be addressed.  After I’ve updated the kit contents I’ll make another video about the bag to include kit content and modifications. -13

Video of modifications.

Austere Medicine: Improvised Aspirator

Aspirator, one medical device I do not want to be without when I need it.  In an effort to be prepared I wanted to have several options.  Every once and a while something will catch my eye as potentially useful for this purpose.

One item is the FreshSaver battery operated hand held vacuum pump and another, a Harbor Freight transfer pump.  Something battery operated and something manual.  I was fairly confident the FreshSaver would work but had no faith in the transfer pump because of the quality.

By drilling out the hole on the FreshSaver I was able to retain the plastic seal.  It works perfectly on the tapered fittings on any suction canister.  It had very strong suction.  When I was experimenting with it I covered the inlet and let the vacuum draw on the unit and believe it has adequate suction to work well.  The battery may not last very long but it might last enough to get though a bad situation.  I like the way it worked so well I’ve added the FreshSaver to my aspirator kit as a backup.

The transfer pump worked much better than expected.  Didn’t have much trust in it but it worked.  The video footage demonstrates it.  Battery operated is fine, however I always want a manual way that doesn’t include batteries or electricity.  The transfer pump connected to any standard suction canister will be effective in my mind as long as all the connections are leak free.  Another one added to the aspirator kit for backup.

Some things to remember, when the vacuum pump is connected the canister will be top heavy so it must be accounted for.  Also the nipple connected to the pump could snap off from the weight of the pump or by getting bumped.  In the video I had configured the pump to connect via hose instead of directly to the nipple.  This reduces the risk of both the top heavy issue and snapping of the nipple.  I felt this configuration would work best because it makes the control to the vacuum more accessible.

It was a challenge to sync the videos so I could get the best audio but it worked.  I have an experiment in mind using clapping and will use it next time I make a multi camera video.  Below is a video I filmed when I made this experiment.  I used three old iPhones, one i5 and two i4’s.  Footage shot above from the front looked like it was recorded on a VCR from an antenna fed television in the 1980’s.  So we’re stuck with a partially blocked screen side view and a very clear side/front view.  Surprisingly the angles caught all of it. -13

VIDEO BELOW

iDye Poly Experiment: Military Surplus

After seeing videos on YouTube and having my own experience with dying military surplus thought I’d make a video about it.  iDye Poly Kelly was used for this experiment if you’re looking for a source.  Hope this helps others decide to dye or not. -13