Mass Casualty Incident, and why I shouldn’t open my big mouth

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It is an accepted fact in the world of EMS (emergency medical services) that you never mention something bad for fear of it coming true in short order. For example, the fastest way to have all hell come down upon your head is to walk into any random emergency room and state, “Man, it sure is quiet in here!”

After a very in-depth conversation with my preceptor about the management of, and our roll in, a mass casualty incident (MCI) I made the off handed comment that we needed to not discuss these things until AFTER the fact. Too many weird coincidences had already materialized.

Imagine my complete terror when I answered the phone this morning in a half-conscious state and heard my mom say, “Emily, a bus full of kids rolled over a few minutes ago.”

 

Car and school bus collide

Yes, in a small town, news travels DAMN fast. (It also had something to do with my dad being on scene.) I felt nothing but extreme impotence as I realized that the bus was probably full (due to the time) and my old school district is in the middle of no- fucking-where. The nearest trauma center is a 40+ minute drive and almost every surrounding school was on a 2 hour fog delay. Yes, we are one of the few local flight organizations that can fly under IFR, but response to this scene was beyond even us (if we were called).

My father, who used to work volunteer ambulance went to the scene with his friend who is a volunteer firefighter. The big teddy bear of a man was almost in tears talking to my mother. He was comforting a little girl who was crying uncontrollably from a minor cut on her finger. Knowing my dad, he was almost crying with relief because that was all that was wrong with her.

As the story states, everyone involved was lucky. No major injuries were reported. Believe me when I say I am so relieved that my services, offered to my local hospital on a volunteer basis after I heard what happened, were not needed. It was all I could think to do to help.

I used to be somewhat critical of the local community for fighting a full-time, paid paramedic staff. Now, every time I land on scene, I am more and more grateful that we have so many local folks willing to volunteer their time to make each of us a bit safer. Without them arriving at the bus roll over, those children would have had to wait well past the golden hour for any treatment whatsoever.

As the dust settles, and something else replaces this as the big town story, I will find a particular flight nurse plodding her way down to the local tattoo parlor to have “shut the hell up!” inked in the middle of her forehead.

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