This originally appeared as two e-mails sent to the Shadowriders' Roadhouse mailing list by one of its members, Smitty.

On the Scene

As some of you know, I serve with a volunteer EMS agency in New York State.

Last night, I was on duty with the New Rochelle Fire Department as part of a rotation I was doing to get experience in a more active system than the boonies where my ambulance corps is. At around 2100 hrs, we got a call of a motorcyclist down on [omitted for patient privacy]. County Police had already called the chopper, which was odd because it's generally EMS that makes those decisions. While enroute, the police reported that the rider was unconscious and having difficulty breathing, also there was head trauma reported. I said a prayer as the driver took off.

We got onscene at the same time as the chopper, and 3 medics, myself, the flight nurse, and a host of firemen started working this guy. He'd gone down by an exit ramp, and we found him lying about 10 feet away from his bike. I'd say he was in his early 40's. No leathers, and he wasn't wearing a helmet, but I spotted one of those $20 brain buckets lying beside the bike...what a piece of cheap shit plastic it was, too. No marks on it, either he wasn't wearing it or it flew off before it could see action.

2 IV's were started, I did a lot of running around getting gear in place for the medics and helping out with the airway (mouth, nose, throat, lungs, ect.). We had a lot of trouble getting a clear airway. He must have just eaten, because he vomited a continuous stream our suction couldn't keep up with and we had one hell of a time with that. Finally we got a tube down into the lungs, but much precious time was lost. His heart stopped, and we started CPR.

Another few minuted were spent pushing drugs and shocking and desperately trying to restart the heart, but I've seen how things go from there. Forget Rescue-911, to hell with ER, and fuck Tori Spelling's father and his series about EMS and the miracle saves they get, whatever the hell it's called. I hate that guy's productions anyway.

As the chopper lifted off, it was pretty much a given that this guy would never throw a leg over a bike again unless he was buried that way. He never regained consciousness. A vehicle was parked on the shoulder of the road nearby, in it was a very upset motorist, on its rear passenger side panel was a set of fresh scrape marks about handlebar high. The troopers begain their investigation.

I can't put into black and white what it's like, to be here in the trenches, to fight for your patient, to watch a man die in front of you despite thousands of combined hours of training and millions of dollars of equipment. And a good helmet costs... what?

Other than a horrible blow to the back of his head, which slowly pooled blood under him as we poured out our best efforts, he was absolutely uninjured. I rember bitching about wearing a helmet in the heat once. I don't care what anyone says about what a pain in the ass helmets are, not anymore.

This wasn't my first call like this lately, this happens every goddam weekend. It's starting to get to me. I can't get the site of his bike lying there, and that stupid little skullcap next to it, out of my head.


I was thinking on it some more last night. It was surreal...The helo is idling about 40 yards away, people are running around and shouting over the rotor noise for gear while firecrackers, M80's and shell-bursts are going off sporadically overhead. Later it occurred to me that all we needed was someone yelling "INCOMING" to give it that battle scene feel. I'm feeling better today, I think I'll visit the chaplain this week to get it off my chest.