Thursday, December 30, 2010

Drinking and Driving: A Public Service Announcement

Its 5:30am and I am nearing the end of a 24 hour shift but I'm wide awake.

Today was pretty slow due to the fact that our unit was out of service after I inspected the tires to find the majority of them slick with no tread and one front tire with some cuts and a 1/2 inch chunk missing from it.

We didn't get into service until about 1:30 this afternoon. The calls consisted of a pretty minor MVC, some general body weakness calls, and a hospital to residence transfer, with the calls starting to slow about 11:30pm, when I decided that it was a good time to get some sleep.

The call that I want to talk about came in at about 3:00am dispatched as a major MVC with two patients located about 15 minutes away.

In route we met up with two engines from local fire department who were in route to the scene also. It looked like this one was going to be a doozy.

Arriving on scene, we found the vehicle on fire, but the fire department was starting to handle it. The first thing that went through our minds was "Oh geez, is the patient still in that vehicle?". We were lucky to see that a few of the firefighters were kneeling with our patient holding c-spine next to a ditch a good distance from the wreck.

It turned out that we would only have one patient. No one else was involved. As soon as I got the SMR gear and took a knee next to her, I could smell the alcohol, the most likely cause of the MVC.

We got her SMRd, assessed, loaded, and started setting up the monitor on her as well as her IV. All went well. The patient didn't appear to have obvious life threatening injuries. A few lacerations here and there, severe pain on the whole left side of her body to include her shoulder, ribs, and hip.

We were ready to take off code 1 to the local trauma hospital. Before taking off, I walked up to the vehicle to talk to the firefighters just to see if there might have been another patient and to see the damage to the vehicle, the fire of which was already put out by this time.

After confirming no more patients, I turned my attention to the vehicle. I couldn't help but notice that the engine was missing. As I looked closer, I found the engine inside the vehicle. It turns out that along with her intoxication, she said she started to get tired and may have fell asleep at the wheel. She impacted her car head on into a traffic signal pole (a very big one mind you). No airbag deployment, but she was restrained.

I felt that this was important information that might lead to injuries that we had not been able to see. I let the medic know and we changed our transport to code 3.

Now, I like lights and sirens, I like the adrenaline rush that I still get out of rushing to the patient. However, I don't have a hardon for it especially when I am driving lights and sirens with a patient in the back who is strapped to a backboard. I kept my speed just at 10mph above posted speed limits and did my best to give her a comfortable, yet hasty ride.

If you don't read anything else in this post, at least read this...

What I would like to say here for my friends or even people that I do not know that may be reading this is: Don't drink and drive.

I know you've heard it before, since before you could drink and before you could drive. This young lady was lucky. Even more fortunate was that fact that it happened on a rural road at 3am with no on around to be injured by her lack of judgment. Please don't put your life or other people's lives at risk. I hate calls like this. They could easily be prevented by crashing at the person's house, calling someone, or simply having the common sense to know that you have to drive home alone.

By the way, the young lady said she only had five beers. It doesn't matter. The next thing you know, you might be laying in a ditch with your life on the line. Even worse, you may not have your wreck in front of someone's house and be trapped in that burning vehicle.

Be smart and stay safe out there.


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