I know, I know, didn’t I just write a couple of hours ago? But I’ve gotta tell you about the rest of my day. I sent my e-mail off at 2:00, went for our weekly Safety Meeting and was off for a regular Thursday but I went in back to the kitchen to get my sweater and the galley phone was ringing. EVERYONE was in the dining room for the meeting, I got to answer and talk to Mike Poole, he’s in charge of the stretcher bearers for MCI situations and he was informing me – us- that the MCI drill was happening NOW. NOW! Can you believe it? Now, have I explained the MCI and everything? It’s our emergency response. There are several situations that call for an MCI, the whole station is called and responds in their ways. The Galley has a huge part just dealing with the food.
MCI- Mass Casualty Incident. The theory is that it is how we deal with any accident involving at least 4 people, a building fire, plane crash, power outage(?), etc. There’s a large number of people that have been training to respond in all the various ways. We basically support the fire department and medical staff. There’s radio, transportation, recorders, stretcher bearers (that’s me!), security, communications, tons of stuff. Alarms go, signs are posted, phone trees are engaged. A mass station mustering happens immediately.
My part was to come back to the meeting with the news then we all went into the office to call our phone trees, the Galley calls Housing and Finance(?), I’ve got 3 stretcher bearers to call, all pagers send out an all-call, the dispatcher anounces it on the radios and I think they even announce it on the radio station. I’ve been carrying my ECW gear with me to work everyday for this day and remember earlier that I was saying that it’s a condition 2 outside? Well, it hadn’t changed.
The snow was blowing sideways and there was a descention on the Fire House as all the emergency people began trickling in from the other work areas. Later I got to find out that they pulled the fire alarm at 2:05, we were up in arms in the Galley at 2:15 and minutes later I was throwing on gear in the Fire House where fire trucks had been parked moments before. The stretcher bearers set up the make-shift hospital, they have the red, yellow, and green areas for the various degrees of wounded victims, a oxygen tanks, boxes upon boxes of medical gear, blankets, back boards, stretcher stands, it’s mostly old army stuff.
I had a lot of time to watch the commotion unfold. Everyone is given a vest stating their part and they are the only ones allowed inside. Security is soon set up and people with radios keep everyone in touch. My part was watching and thinking about how scary it would be if it was real. You know everyone here. We knew almost immediately who some of the victims were because they were missing on the MCI teams. You know the people that are out there helping, you know who’s checking out the area and putting out the fire, you know the injured. It was a great way to see true community and sad at the same time as you heard that someone was already listed as black.
Soon Mike sent a team of us out, Sandy is the door person, with her ER experiance she’s sort of the go-between for the doctor and our information. The scenario was a fuel truck that had unknowling caused a major fuel pipe to spring a leak under a building came driving into the Carp shop (carpenter shop), crashed into some support beams and collapsed part of the building as it also set off a huge fire. This was a diesel fuel truck so I guess it wouldn’t have happened the way it was played out but it sounded like a good movie plot. I had to hear the details from Sandy. One distraught lady came in screaming for her friend, they sedated her, I got in a van with my team of 3 others and we headed up the road in blinding snow. We had a better start than the first van to leave.
When I first arrived and joined the chain to start collecting gear from the MCI shed outside, I heard some yelling about “Watch out! Watch out!” I turned around in time to see a van wheel go rolling across the road. I was like, I don’t think the stretcher bearers have anything to do with spare tires. It rolled off to the side and there sitting right in the way of the firehouse was a 3 wheeled van. Cool.
The carp scene was a bit of a let down, no cool special effects, it didn’t seem like it had just been partially blown up at all but the victims lying there had soot on their faces. I got to help put a girl on a stretcher and I realized that there are people that I still don’t know around here. The drill was great, it showed us all our shortcomings, like priorities, when do you get to leave the scene with a victim and get back to Med? And how do you get a stretcher with someone on it into a van that has two long bench seats on either side? The weather was the best effect that we could have. It was really blinding, all van windows were completely iced over and roads had drifted so much that the driver didn’t even know how he was supposed to leave the Carp Shop area.
In all, I felt pretty secure with my fellow stretcher bearers. I hang out with most of them and they were all patient and helpful. I was able to test myself at carrying several people including one heavy-set guy. Man. That was a little worrying, I could carry my side but then we were supposed to lift him higher and put him on stands. I think I freaked out a couple people (including the victim) when I said I couldn’t do it. Lucky for my there’s strong guys around here. Justin simply took over. I just meant I couldn’t lift any higher, sheesh.
Brian was a victim as well and as things finally began to get into a rythm we transported him over to the hospital. I thought he was a small guy until we were hustling through fast forming snow drifts from the Fire House to the Medical Clinic. Yikes.
In all it was highly exciting. I missed out on the whole show though. Sky got to be the hysterical bystander who’s specific job was to “raise hell”. I hear he took his role very seriously. He went around screaming in the Galley, dodged security there and came bursting into the Fire House while I was up at the Carp Shop. It took a couple people to restrain him and get him to sit in a chair. He only faked them out, though, and as soon as they thought he was calm he bolted for the door again. “I would have made it too but I forgot how the handle works,” he told me over dishwashing tonight. That’s when he got tackled by three people, tied up and “sedated”. He almost escaped from his restraints later on but the drill was winding down by then. People told me about it after I had returned. “They’ve got Sky tied up in that corner over there.” Where? There was orange vests and reflector tape everywhere. I liked to watch Glenn. Poor Dr. Glenn. This whole drill comes down to him. He’s the one that has to get the orders out, save the people, usher the Auxilary Med. The station doesn’t have enough intibators for the four smoke inhalation victims. They had to hand bag and that was another thing to get around trying to get a stretcher through a narrow doorway and someone to continuously be hand bagging a vicitim.
Meanwhile, everyone elso on station has to muster to their work centers or something. Melissa, a firefighter tells me that everyone has to report to the Galley. The Galley was set up into a communications. Housing, Galley and Human Resources became the info center. Poor Jason, it was his day off, he came into the Galley at 2:30 for some food. Right into the middle of things, and he couldn’t leave. Troy and I are stretcher bearers and were both working today. I thought I would be returning to hours of catch-up but I once again got to see community working together. While part of the Galley staff was out responding to the drill others came in to take our place. Cooks washed pots, the admin. chipped in and when I finally got back on the clock at quarter after 5 there were no pots to be washed. Everything was back to normal. Except for Jen’s blackened face – she was the black tagged victim, the driver, surrounded by fire in a fuel truck. Sky has his marking from his role playing as well, he got his brow scunned up from all his struggling.
I had the best seat in the house, the dish room window. I got to talk to everyone as they finished eating and hear their stories, how they heard the call, what their role was. It was fantastic. There’s so much I want to know now. I also wish I could have been in the midst of it more. I’m told that a recorder is the place to be. You take notes on vitals and and info the doctor gives you. Some record events and log times. So much to do. I think Security had the most fun, they just had to wrestle Sky.
Well, that was fun. Hope we never have a real one but I’d sure have a story to tell. Now I need to get to bed. I was hoping to finally vacuum up all the glitter in my room from last week but I guess it’ll have to wait a few more days. Bummer. All right, I will talk to you later. It’s the 2 day weekend this week. That means Mamosas and Sinco De Miyo ( how do you spell that?). Anyways, I should really go but I am so wound up still, I love talking you guys.
Hey Bethany, I know I just wrote you but I was thinking about you when I blew the cloud of cocoa over the bakery. Your trees song is on my latest Kitchen music CD. I play a lot of songs to remind me of my friends and family, I’ve got White Stripes for Ben, Monkees, for Charity, Modest Mouse and Beatles for Mom, the Open Road Song by Eve 6 makes me think of all my various road trips, I can’t think of the others right now but I think about you all so often. This place is so crazy. Speaking of crazy, Waylan was saying that he wants to do a photo shoot in front of the McMurdo sign with the straight jacket. How fun would that be? I’m sure Medical would allow it if they supervised. Hopefully, I’d definately put that on my blog. I’ve got so many more pictures of the party from last week. I haven’t decided if I will put them up or not. They’re mostly of me. You know my costume though. They need to be black and white. I’ll see about editing a bit.
All right, for real, I’m heading out. I think I will be writing my usual Sat. e-mail. It won’t be nearly as exciting but I have had an eventful week, I gave a massage to Simone last night, one more DA to go, went to the Coffee House, had a Peppermint Schnapps cocoa, mmmm. Oneday I’ll get my room all decorated and send you a picture of that too. Good night.
PS. so I was just finishing this up and friends started trickling into the computer room. One is Melissa, a firefighter, and I finally got to ask about the fire trucks. How do they keep the water from freezing in the fire trucks? She says that when they are outside they continuously circulate the resevior water through the pump and when they have a hose hooked up it is always trickling water to keep it flowing. Now you know.