CSI, Barstow, and Medicine

Okay, I am a CSI junkie. Fueling my addiction? TiVo, which means CSI minus the commercials. Life is good.

Today, one episode really made me nostalgic. For those of you who don’t know, I spent time in the Army as a flight medic, stationed at Fort Irwin, California. This base is 35 miles north of Barstow, in the middle of the desert and, for the most part, boarders I-10 from Barstow to Las Vegas.

Although we couldn’t ‘compete’ for calls from the local MEDEVAC company or the CHP flight crew, we would occasionally be called in during periods of bad weather, (we were IFR capable) or for assistance in mass causality situations (we could carry up to 7 patients). One mission was a bus that had flipped.

The interesting thing about this episode, besides the bus roll over, was their use of ‘live’ victims. Although you can never replace the chaos of a real mass cal., I was impressed with the little details that made it across. Katherine, after finding a victim still alive in the mangled wreckage, stood and stared at her bloody hands as the man was carted away by paramedics. Gil Grissom had an encounter with another live victim the day after at the crash site who couldn’t tell him why she was there, her entire face screaming disbelief. Both brought instant feelings of familiarity to me.

Two minor pieces of dialog also surprised me. The first was a discussion over the driver’s body in the ME’s office regarding Type II diabetes and the possible symptoms. I was especially interested in the comment made by the ME about the prevalence of obesity in this country. Strange place for a stance on obesity? I thought so. The second, which probably only matters to me, was the comment about the McDonald’s in Barstow. Nick clarified it’s identification by saying something like, “You know, the one with the train.” I was thinking it right before he said it. All the tourists at that place used to drive me nuts.

The other interaction that really surprised me surrounded the victim that Katherine found. Katherine was having a difficult time understanding why he would sign a DNR prior to emergency, potentially life saving surgery. The victim happened to be a resident physician at UCLA.

I will never forget my favorite resident, Dr. V, standing outside an ICU room explaining what DNR meant to the family of a very, very ill 80 something woman. He stood there, in all of his 27 years, and told the family that he would never, ever want CPR done on himself. I later inquired to his sincerity because of his serious, but honest demeanor and the fact that he had echoing my thoughts, as well as the thoughts of many people who live and breathe medicine.

Do not do that to me.

The victim’s girlfriend gave that exact explanation to Katherine and Nick from her own hospital bed. I never would have expected this glimpse of health care provider reality to show up on one of the most watched shows on television.

My last comment has to do with this article I found while cruising my MSM sources. How many times have we, as health care providers, sat watching a TV show, or been in a movie theater and let out a cry of disbelief when they screwed something up? Okay, so it has completely annoyed everyone around us to the point that we shut up, but damn if it didn’t just get ya where it counts, huh? I found it very amusing that the real life CSI people were catching the same backlash. Welcome to our world, boys!