Saturday, November 04, 2006



In February 2004 when I was flying the MU-2, the pager went off late one night. This night's duties involved taking a young woman Form 1 patient, a nurse and a cop escort from a small town to a psych center in a larger city. Form 1 is involuntary committal. According to our medic, she was psychotic, homicidal and suicidal, practically the full buffet of mental horrors. She had a psychotic break, and was currently crazy.

We landed and the ambulance pulled up, along with an RCMP cruiser.

Our patient was in her early twenties and very, very beautiful, which I was not expecting. We didn't get a whole lot of beautiful people on board; the various illnesses and accidents our patients suffered from usually meant they didn't look their best. She was different. Her eyes were swollen and red from crying, but she was stunningly gorgeous and had cheekbones to die for. No, I certainly wasn't perving on her, but it was impossible to ignore.

The police escort introduced himself and said the patient had been combative previously, and to not take any chances with safety. I agreed with him, then I told the cop to leave his pepper spray behind, and take his bullets out of his Glock and give them to me to carry for the flight. Just following the Air Ambulance act. The powers that be had decided it would be bad publicity if a firearm discharged during an ambulance flight, especially if it actually hit someone or an engine or fuel tank. He grumbled, then complied and I took his bullets. A clip of bullets is a lot heavier than I thought it would be. I guess they had a lot of action in the small town we were at, as he had 3 clips on him. I don't like guns. Even the bullets alone felt dangerous in my pocket, like a bag full of uncapped syringes or a box of snakes.

As we attempted to get the patient to walk from the ambulance to the airplane, she latched onto the side of the ambulance door and wouldn't let go. The cop and nurse talked slowly and gently to her, reassuring her she would be okay, even as they were prying her hands open. Once she was detached, she then had to be physically carried to the airplane as she refused to walk on her own. She didn't scream, but she was sobbing nonstop and the tears were rolling down her face like a river. The front of her sweatshirt was actually soaked. We placed her on a stretcher, then loaded her onto the airplane. As soon as she was loaded on board, she got a hand free and started working on the emergency exit window, right in front of us. That didn't last long, and soon she was strapped down tightly, with her hands both tied to the stretcher rails, and an extra dose of ativan in her bloodstream.

She moaned once, then was silent for the rest of the flight. "I just want to have my baby!"

I asked the medic and he whispered through his headset "She is convinced she's having Jesus Christ's child, though the pregnancy test is negative. She didn't take it very well when the nurse at the nursing station told her she wasn't pregnant"

The rest of the flight was uneventful, our patient didn't struggle or cause a fuss, I'm guessing mostly thanks to the Ativan the medic had immediately injected into her. After we landed, she again had to be carried from the aircraft and into the ambulance and the tears were still streaming down her face. I felt sorry for her; no one deserves to be that sad about anything, even if it was a chemical imbalance or whatever.

We waited for the cop and nurse to return, then flew them back to their town. Then we flew home, silent.

One of the nice things about flying medevac is that sometimes I genuinely felt like I was helping other people. I felt good taking people to the doctor when I knew they were going to get fixed up and be ready for more punishment soon. Broken legs were nice like that, even angioplasty, where they unclog a person's heart valves. Pregnant mothers were awesome for the warm fuzzies.

And then some people I know were beyond help, like the occasional person we took home to die, or the patient we had that night. According to our medic's charts, she had a long history of extreme mental illness and drug abuse and I understand that she won't ever be okay. It's a funny world; some people are doomed to be lost and alone even more than the rest of us.

When I got home after that flight I called Lisa at 3am and told her how much I loved her. She was half-asleep but she wasn't angry I had called and she said she loved me back, and that made me feel okay. Then I went to bed and slept a deep, dreamless sleep.

1 comment:

Flyer said...

Over the years I flew only a handful of medivacs (I worked mostly skeds and charter work when I was in Northern Ont/QB) but the last one I did was a new born who was very ill, we were told "fast as you can " I did, we did, our best but about half way they said there was no longer a rush. That day I called the woman I loved/love I didn't tell her why I called I just needed to hear her voice. Still that flight bothered me for many years,....someone to call when required is worth a great deal in this world. I'm glad you had someone that night.