September 10, 2001

"Good days, bad days. Up days, down days. Sad days, happy days--but never a boring day on this job. You do what God has called you to do. You show up, you put one foot in front of another, you get on the rig and you do the job, which is a mystery and a suprise. You have no idea when you get on that rig, no matter how big the call, no matter how small, you have no idea what God's calling you to do.
"You love this job. We all do. What a blessing that is. A difficult, difficult job, and God calls you to it, and he gives you a love for it, so that a difficult job will be well done."
-Father Mychal Judge

Father Judge was killed the following day, Sept 11, 2001.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The wife will be upset for my not getting my chores done before playing, but I remembered a great story that just had to be shared.

We get called to a clinic to assist in lifting someone off the floor. This isn't an unusual call for us. We frequent a lot of nursing homes to help the elderly back into beds or their wheelchairs. We didn't have any reason to think this was any different. That was until we opened the door.

On the floor of the men's room was 625 lbs. of back injury waiting to happen. This gentleman had found his way between the toilet and the wall. For reasons unknown to me, this is a common place for people to get lodged. His pants (tent) were around his ankles. Again, the usual place for people in his situation. The concept of emergency medicine goes right out the window when something like this presents itself. We are no longer firefighters and paramedics, but rather all turn into a collective mind of contortionists, engineers, plumbers, and magicians passing ideas around the group like mashed potatoes around the dinner table.

We break from our huddle and take our respective positions. Strategically placing one on the toilet, two at the feet and a floater to make sure we don't break and arm (the patients--we aren't afforded such courtesy) or pull a chuck of flesh off.

With a good coordinated attack and a little KY, our patient is pulled free. A job well done, right? Wrong. Somehow our task morphs into us following the patient home and helping him up the stairs and onto a couch.

Across town we engineer a new battle plan. Two above pulling and two below pushing get the job done. Home we go to choke down a few Motrin and a Pepsi.

You all thought that was the story. Guess again!! That was just the intro. Here we go.

Last day of the set. Always a good feeling to know that in less than 24 hours you can disappear for 4 days and no one need know where you are or when you'll return, except the wife of course.

We are called to a patient with difficulty breathing a few blocks away. Ambulance goes, engine stays.

The smell is something that very few will ever experience and describing it does it no justice. Infection, urine and filth all rolled into a foul and potent stogie.

As we come up the stairs, we see the kids running back and forth in the living room. It isn't until we reach the top of the stairs that we realize what or who it is that they are jumping/sliding on. It's our patient from earlier in the week lying face down on the floor, unable to move.

We ask him if he's injured and how he got where he is. The story is that he slid off the couch the day we put him there and hasn't moved since. This is where I asked myself, "What the ****!!?" He tells us he slid down and was sitting reclining for about a day. His leg fell asleep so he tried to reposition and rolled onto his face, where he remained for 3 more days.

Don't worry though, he wasn't alone. He spent these 3 days face down on the floor of his BROTHER'S HOUSE!!!!! His trash brother had brought him food and a mug to drink water out of while he lay unable to move on his floor. It wasn't until his own crushing weight made it difficult for him to breath that he asked his brother to bring him a phone and he called 911 himself.

We were able to roll him over to ease his breathing, but that's when things got real tough. He couldn't hold himself up, so we put a sheet under his armpits and held him in a sitting position. The source of the stench became morbidly apparent after we rolled him over and watched the maggots crawl over his gangrenous leg. You see, his weight had led to the lack of circulation in his leg and that along with his own excrement had sped the process of decay.

There was no way we'd get him out as just the two of us, so we called the engine. Once they arrived, we rolled him onto a tarp and dragged him out like an elk that had fallen into a tight spot. We eased him down the stairs, infection and urine pooling on the tarp in front of our faces. The entire time we were working, the captain, having exercised his right as most senior and highest ranking individual, waited outside.

To wrap things up, we got him to the hospital where he lost his leg and nearly 100 lbs of adipose tissue that had rotted. We also informed child protective services of the conditions those children were living in.


EskimoBob said...

I don't know how you found the words. Cause there are none to be said. *Slowly rising, with emphatic clapping, and over-exaggerated looks of pride, tears rolling down cheeks.*

Joe, Candis and Alexis said...

Oh my gosh that is horrible!! I can't believe that someone would let things get to that point.

Gayelene said...

You got to be kidding. This is terrible. I don't know how a family member could possibly let his sibling get to the point of losing a leg. this is just too sad

Leserlee said...

When people get to that point, insurance, or somebody needs to cover the surgery to give them gastric bypass or something. Because even though the surgery is expensive, at least it's better than the alternative, and the leech they become on society.