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Doctors, nurses, and staying healthy

The Importance Of Life-Saving Sandwiches

, , | Healthy Working | April 27, 2017

I work at a large mine in an isolated area. As a member of our Technical Rescue Team, I have been called many times to assist the local sheriff’s Search and Rescue.

One day in late May, when wildfires less than 20 miles away are suffusing the air with smoke, we receive a page to proceed to a canyon near the state line. This canyon has a highway carved into a steep rock wall, with the debris pushed down into the chasm. In the past, our team had been called to the area to remove the remains of drivers who crashed through the guardrails, so we are ready for the worst.

When we arrive, the SO officers tell us a father and his three sons have “hiked” to the bottom of the canyon and are stranded. They actually scrambled down approximately 600 feet of broken rock, and then found that climbing back up was impossible. It is after 5:00 pm when we arrive.

By the time we manage to get rescuers to the bottom and formulate an extraction plan, darkness has set in. I am the first down, making contact and bringing water and flashlights. Other team members follow close behind, and we move the group (father with sons 6, 7, and 9 years old) to the raise point. One of the team members brought a backpack with sandwiches, granola bars, and water. The boys agree to wait for the sandwiches until we reach the top and gobble up the granola bars (I’ll admit, the one I had was the best ever).

The trip back up the fractured rock pile takes nearly two hours, most of the time at least partially suspended on the main-line rope. There are several small incidents (lost cell phones and tennis shoes, rolling rocks, etc.) on the way up, but topping out and disconnecting was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had. The family is rushed to a waiting ambulance for evaluation, and my team leader and incident commander examine the other rescuers and me carefully before allowing us to stow our gear and get ready to leave.

I remembered that I had the sunglasses of one of the children in my pack, so I went to the back of the ambulance and opened the door to return them. That’s when the youngest asked, in one of the smallest, most plaintive voices I’ve ever heard, “But what about our sandwiches?”

When we drove away into the dawn, the father and three boys were standing in front of the ambulance eating sandwiches.

The Store Employs Manual Labor

, | Healthy | April 26, 2017

(I’m standing in line with a few items to purchase from a well-known clothing store. The store has its music quite loud, so I can’t really hear anything said between the employees at the front of the line. One dashes past me, almost knocking over a rack of clothes, and grabs the manager by the arm. She says something, the manager turns pale, and tells the other girl on the register something, who looks confused and starts checking people out at lightning speed. All the other employees in the store run full pelt to the changing rooms. I manage to catch some of what the manager says into her phone as she runs past, but all I hear is “I need an ambulance!” I step out of line and drop my clothes to follow her. As I reach the changing rooms an employee stops me from entering.)

Employee: “I’m sorry, miss, but the changing rooms are closed right now. I’ll be able to help you soon.”

Me: “What’s going on? I’m—”

(Mid-sentence I am cut off by a shriek I know VERY well. I unzip my jacket, showing my hospital ID still clipped to my shirt pocket. The employee shoves me through the curtain.)

Manager: “[Employee]! I told you not to let anyone back here!”

Me: “Trust me; you NEED me! I’m a midwife!”

(And that was the day I delivered a healthy baby girl in the changing room at a clothing store!)

The Patient Isn’t The Only One With Patience

, , , | Healthy Working | March 25, 2017

The hospital I work for lets patients leave comments about something good that happened to them during their stay. Once a month, the best stories are picked and shared with everyone. This story really stuck with me.

A patient who was doing an extended stay at the hospital came running out of her room in tears, screaming for help. [Nurse #1] happened to be nearby and ran to the patient’s side checking for injuries; she seems to be okay, but she is begging the nurse for help. The patient explains that she’s just gotten off the phone with her sister and it is her sister that needs help. Her sister had been having a rough go at life recently and could no longer take it; she had called to say goodbye. [Nurse #1] immediately calls for another nurse for help as she helps the patient back her her room. She briefly explains the situation to the second nurse who pulls out his phone and dials 911 as the patient attempt to get her sister back on the line.

For the next 20-30 minutes the two nurses never leave the patient’s side. [Nurse #1] is keeping a close look at the patient’s health while giving her suggestions on things to say to keep her sister on the line, as it would mean more coming from a loved one rather than a stranger. Meanwhile, [Nurse #2] is on the phone covertly getting the sister’s information from the patient and passing it along to the dispatcher.

Unfortunately, it seems that the sister catches on and swallows a handful of pills before hanging up the phone… mere minutes before the paramedics pull into her drive. Since [Nurse #2] is still on the phone with dispatch, he is able to convey to them exactly what had happened inside the house — they even know what kind of pills she’d taken! The paramedics rush the sister to the emergency room where they are able to save her life. The paramedics and dispatch are in constant contact with [Nurse #2], relaying information through him to our patient, up until the point when the sister is admitted.

The nurses went above and beyond for the patient. They could have simply called 911 and reported the situation, but they stayed by the patient’s side and treated her sister, who lives in a completely different city. A huge thank you also has to go out to the paramedics and 911 dispatcher who kept the patient informed through the entire ordeal.

I am happy to report that at the time of me writing this, both sisters are doing well.

That’s A-Meow-zing!

, , , | Healthy | February 6, 2017

(I was in the car driving when this came on the radio. A cat had been shot repeatedly in the head by someone with an airsoft gun and had been brought into a veterinary clinic. The cat had no owner that the clinic knew of, and they were using a very popular radio station to advertise the cat’s plight and raise money to try and save it. They needed a grand total of £4,000 as the clinic has decided to foot half the bill. People call up to donate, or go into the clinic, and it’s very quick that they managed to get £500 when this call comes through.)

Host: “You’re through to [Radio Channel]; can I take your name?”

Caller: “I don’t want to give it. I want to donate, though.”

Host: “Okay, that’s great! How much do you want to donate?”

Caller: “I want to pay £7,500.”

(The host and vet representative are clearly shocked, and explain how much they’re looking for because of the split.)

Caller: “I understand that, but I don’t want the clinic to do that. It’s a nice thing to do, but they have other animals to save and I don’t want them to suffer with this. I don’t have children. I lost my husband. I don’t have to worry about overheads but I have a LOT of money. I want to pay for the entirety of the cat’s surgery. And, if no-one claims that poor cat, I’d like to give that cat a home.”

(It moved the host, the representative, me, and I’m sure a lot more listeners to tears. We later found out that the lady who donated did take the cat, and she calls up now and then to keep them posted on how he’s doing.)

Making Sure The Survivors Are Surviving

, , , , | Healthy Right | May 19, 2016

(My family is 100% German, and came to the US around 1900. Shortly after WW II ended, my grandma, who was working on getting her nursing certification, decided to volunteer at an aid center for recently arrived Holocaust survivors. My grandma was born in Chicago, and English was and is her first language, but she spoke German because her parents and grandparents spoke it, and had a slight accent. She’d been bullied about it all through the war, and was worried it’d be the same at the center, but decided to volunteer anyway. Sure enough, some of the other nurses started making snide comments, until one of the patients, a woman in a wheelchair, beckoned her over.)

Patient: *in halting English* “You… German?”

Grandma: “No.”

Patient: *disappointed* “You no speak German?”

Grandma: *in German* “Ja. I speak German. My parents are from Germany.”

Patient: *in German* “Oh, thank the Lord! English is such a hard language, and everyone here is so brusque, and there are no trees anywhere! I miss the mountains! What part of Germany are your parents from? Do they miss it? Have you ever been?”

(As soon as they found out my grandma spoke German, all of the other survivors came right over and started chatting away, completely dumbfounding the rest of the nurses! To my grandma’s relief, none of them held it against her that her family was German; most of them just wanted to talk about their homes and families, and were relieved to find someone who spoke their language. It wasn’t long before some of the other nurses and the aid center director asked her for help learning German themselves!)