After the call I’m driving through the hood so Brittany can see some prostitutes as our last call brought that into the conversation. With Brittany squealing with excitement after watching a young woman get into a car with a complete stranger I’m passed by the Big City PD who’s moving fast.
“Brittany, you might actually get a real call today. PD just passed us and another one is coming up behind us.” We get used to the driving patterns of PD as they have a particular mode of travel when going to a real call. Despite the cop shows that depict officers traveling Code-3 to every call our local PD tends to just light up at intersections and occasionally hit the air horn to get someone’s attention. They are the urban land-sharks of the hood that gracefully slide through traffic following the scent of blood to the crime scene.
A few seconds later the radio comes to life. “Medic-40, respond code-3 for the GSW at the corner of really bad street and even worse street, please stage out, your scene is not secure.” Brittany has her gloves on before the dispatcher finishes the sentence and wearing her camouflage battle dress uniform all I can see in the rear view mirror are her bright shiny teeth in a big smile. I light up the rig and head in the direction that PD was going.
Just as I’m thinking about shutting down to stage and wait for the officers to secure the scene the dispatcher comes back and clears us to proceed. We arrive to find police cruisers blocking the street and yellow tape being rolled out to keep the crowd back. There’s a cluster of officers standing next to a young man who’s collapsed on the sidewalk with a small pool of blood forming under him. It’s Kevin’s tech so he’s first out and walks up with the fire crew that just arrived. Brittany is staying with me as I’m getting the equipment out of the rig.
I hand her a set of trauma shears and motion towards Kevin who’s kneeling by the young man. “go on – get in there and cut some clothes off.” I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone skip in combat boots yet that’s pretty much what it looks like as Brittany joins the others in cutting clothes and looking for bullet wounds.
It’s the perfect textbook scenario for rapid assessment and treatment of a trauma victim. Four minutes from the time the call went out to arriving on scene with fire and EMS pulling up at the same time. Seven minutes spent on scene stripping clothing off, controlling the bleeding, and putting the patient on a back board. He has two entry wounds, one in the neck and one in the upper chest. Both appear to be small caliber and bleeding from the chest wound is controlled with a chest seal to reduce the possibility of developing a collapsed lung. We decide to use a hard back board because of the close proximity of the neck wound to the spinal column.
With strobes flashing and siren wailing, I make the five minute Code-3 drive to the trauma hospital with my police escort just behind me. Kevin’s reassessing for neurological deficits and starting IVs as Brittany is doing her best to take vitals in the back of an ambulance running Code-3. She’s using all the techniques we showed her on the previous non-emergent calls: slipping the bell of the stethoscope under the cuff so you can corroborate the auscultation by feeling the palpated systolic pressure with the other hand, and supporting the arm on your leg while lifting the heel of your boot to isolate noise and vibration. She’s a quick study and is keeping her cool on a highly stressful call. Seventeen minutes after getting the call we are pushing the gurney into the trauma bay, which is already crowded with the trauma team of doctors and nurses. By the time Kevin is finished with his paperwork the young man was already headed for the operating table.
Brittany is helping me clean up the ambulance as another rig comes in to the trauma bay. I could hear the siren from a few blocks away and see their lights flashing as they entered the parking lot. Brittany and I change gloves so we can help out the crew – they are bringing in a critical patient.