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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

They Waited an Hour to Call

We arrived a little late to the party.

As it turned out, it took the bystanders something along the lines of an hour for someone to decide a 911 call was in order.

An hour.

The three of us made our way into the Mayberry district and pulled up in Engine 56 at about the same time the Heavy Rescue from nearby Kinda Big City was unloading its crew.

A quick look down the trail to the river bank showed the surreality of a few local rescuers and bystanders frantically attempting to free someone from under a log in the river, who was struggling to get air while held down by the water, as well over fifty others continued sunbathing, only a few paying attention.

By the time we got down to the edge, the kid had been pulled free.

The kid.

And he was blue.

He had been weakly flailing and fighting to escape when we looked down. Only a few minutes had passed. Now he was limp. They broke his leg to get him out when he lost consciousness.


We worked him for a long time. The medics of course threw epi and lidocaine at him, but the monitor gave us nothing but asystole. Still, we kept working.

Now a few people were paying attention.

We loaded him onto a basket and rigged up to take him up to the bridge. No way were the medics going to call it in front of the crowd.

I thought of my own kids as I bagged him all the way up the grade. Don't we always do that?

His dulled eyes stared in different directions under drooping lids. One-handed compressions continued as best as could be done by the guy across from me as we stumbled over the rocks. It was a miracle that I didn't dislodge the tube with the BVM as I was climbing. There was blood coming up the tube, from the tissue damage we were causing while working him.

Tried not to look at his parents, but how can you not?

It was after the ambulance departed for the landing zone to the helicopter, when we found out about the hour delay.

The entire freaking hour, the kid fought, screamed, struggled, his head not quite level with the water as the few bystanders who found the capacity to give a crap tried to free him, to help him get air.

An hour. Good God.

So, for the record, and I think I speak for all 911 dispatchers as well as my brothers and sisters on the BRTs and bone boxes, we would all rather hear about a problem ten times than never.

For the love of all that is good and right, pick up the phone and CALL.

For what it is worth, against all odds, the medics got a faint rhythm on the way to the helo. The kid was hypothermic, so the chance was there. The helicopter took him. He survived. Expected to make a full recovery.

Are you serious?

God was looking out for this one. He was about as dead as dead gets.

I guess that's a save.  No thanks to the spectators.

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