Thursday, February 4, 2010

car fires and cardiac issues

The lack of posts lately actually has a pretty good excuse this time, other than me being lazy. A car wreck I was involved in back in 2008 has been haunting me. The past week or so has been beyond stressful and I've had to get myself an attorney. The other driver was at fault, and her insurance company has not paid my medical bills as promised. It's just a huge headache and I'm tired of catching that insurance rep. in lie after lie.

In other news, work has been nothing short of interesting lately.

I got to fight a car fire that fought back almost as hard. We arrived onscene and it was fully involved, save for part of the engine compartment. The fuel line had ruptured, so burning gasoline was under the car and kept rolling down the hill towards a storm drain.

While I was getting off the engine, masking up the rest of the way, and waiting on water, 2 tires blew. I had a fun time trying to overcome the gasoline's affinity for burning. Every time I would just about have the passenger compartment nearly out, the gas would light it all off again. I'm not quite sure what the captain was doing, but he was just standing around behind me, not helping hump hose or anything, just standing there. After scrambling to knock down the flames as the gasoline got within 3 feet of the sewer access, I asked him to grab the dry chemical extinguisher. He returned with it and it helped some, but the car wasn't going out without a fight.

As I worked my way around to the passenger's side, I was standing at the front door, putting water into the car, when the rear tire blew on that side. I won't say I was expecting it, but I'm proud to say it didn't startle me much or scare me at all. My brain finally recognized the difference between a tire and a gunshot.

Once the car was pretty much out, the driver brought me the K12 so we could open the hood. The cable had already burnt out under the dash, and the car's design prevented us from accessing it near the latch. I made the cuts and only had to go back for a small, 3" section of the frame below the skin that I somehow missed. I'll get it all the first try next time though. At least I kept the saw moving enough to not let the blade bind this time (I've had trouble with that in the past).

Once the fire was out and the car had been soaked down a few more times for good measure, we refilled the tank on the engine, put fresh bottles into our SCBAs, and returned to service.

Earlier that day, we ran a gas odor call. A rear window had been broken and more than likely, copper lines were cut and stolen from inside. I cut the gas off at the meter and the captain had dispatch notify the gas company.

The neighbor that called us was afraid the house was going to explode. I'm not a hazmat tech, but I'm pretty sure the house had too much gas inside to allow an explosion. The smell of the mercaptan could knock you down.

Back at my home station a different shift, I don't think I've laughed that hard in a while. I needed that, more than the guys knew, or than I'd let them in on. When someone would fart, SCBA masks with our hoods would go on, just for laughs. When he's not doing paperwork, the captain joins in on the joking around sometimes. One person might get ragged for cooking, but another will get it for snoring, while another gets it about their moustache, and somebody else might catch a joke for something else. There's no telling what silly thing someone will blurt out next some days. I don't want it any other way.

There's no doubt the captain is the boss, nor is there that the senior guys are senior guys, and etc. It's just nice to be in a place where we don't have to be 100% serious all the time, even when at the station and out of the public's view/earshot.

As for medical calls, we transported a 5 year old in bigeminy/trigeminy. Yes, I wrote 5, and no, it's not a typo. The little guy was brave during the IV stick, and since the hospital didn't give orders for lidocane or anything else, the IV, oxygen, and diesel drip were all we could do.

It was definitely freaky and a bit scary to see such a young person having this heart condition. I've only seen it in the elderly, or in those with known heart conditions.

Another medical call had us transporting an elderly lady after a dizziness and weakness spell. On the way to the hospital, I could hear my partner talking to her as he put the defibrillation pads on her and was explaining what would happen by pacing her. He set the monitor to pace and had a good capture at 40miliamps. Her heart was beating too slow (in the 40's) and it needed to be sped up a bit.

As we were nearing the hospital, her respirations slowed and became agonal. I opened the rear doors to find my partner bagging her. I knew she was still kicking because she would move her feet occasionally (no pun intended).

The ER staff did a great job having enough hands ready to handle her in case she crashed, respiratory was even ready for her. When we left the hospital, she was still alive and being paced. My only complaint about that call is that the ER's monitor wasn't compatible with our pads. This was the first time I'd ever seen the style connector they used. Nothing we have will fit it, and the nurse had trouble figuring out how to disconnect it to check if ours would fit. It makes me think it must be new to them as well.


John said...

Just because it's too rich now doesn't mean it won't get there later. As you ventilate the building it will pass through the flammable range until it reaches the point it is too lean. Best to be careful.

The Grumpy Dispatcher said...

Speaking of farts and is good these days.

Back when we had belt-mounted regulators and a low-pressure flexible "elephant trunk" hose attached to the mask (something like a vacuum clearner hose).... you'd be standing around waiting to go on air, with your low pressure hose hanging from your mask down to about waist level.

Someone would come up, grab the business end, carefully place it and then fart full on 100% into it, and you couldn't get the mask off before you took the full brunt of it inside the mask.

Goodness gracious, how that would make your eyes water! Blech!!

That's one prank I don't miss getting pulled on me now that equipment had changed. Good times.