On Being Vunerable: Part I- Carnage

last night i posted about the relationship i had with a local sicilian girl. and like i said, she was amazing. all she knew about me work wise was i worked in a hospital on a surgical ward; which was true. but i didn’t tell her my other primary job.

i was one of the primary ER tech’s that specialized in trauma management.

my first command had me working a year and half in EMS. i had logged close to 200 calls by the time i left charleston and at least 50 of those that involved SEVERE trauma: car accidents, gun shot wounds, suicide attempts- hell i had one call where a 200 pound Marine beat his 92 pound wife with a coffee table.

per security, she wouldn’t stop screaming, he snapped, picked up the table and hit her twice. then he called security on himself.

i did this for over a year. we worked 24 on 48 off. yes, you read that right.

so when i got to sicily i had no choice but to be one of the trauma techs. i was the ONLY non ER corpsman who was a primary EMT. i was a national certified instructor in PHTLS, BLS, and EMT-B. basically, i knew my shit.


i was due to get off monday morning at 0630. the ward was dead and at around 5am i got a call from the ER that the ambulance needed to head out: motorcycle vs. motor vehicle. that’s NEVER good and i KNEW we were in for some shit. i told the ER to dispatch security to the scene.

we got there and i saw a man lying under a HUGE indentation in a guard rail. apparently he attempted to pass the car, the driver was looking down at something and clipped his rear tire. he was ejected from the bike at an estimated 40 mph head first into the guard rail.

me and amanda IMMEDIATELY went to work. c-spine precautions went out the window. i knew his neck was crushed and i had about 30 minutes to get him to the ER, IF THAT. I got the helmet off as best as i could and me and amanda started the the IV’s. once in place we loaded him into the rig. i had a security guy drive us back since we BOTH needed to work on him.

first impression: visible indentation to the upper frontal aspect skull, both pupils blown irregularly, i could barely feel a carotid pulse, breathing was almost non existent. i gave hime 15 minutes. we placed the oral and nasal airway and i had amanda bag him. each compression had one aspect of the chest rise higher than the other (flail chest- VERY serious sign).

i straddled the patients chest and began CPR, each compression had blood pouring from his mouth, nose and ears. all we could do was breathe for him, and keep his heart beating, but i knew he wouldn’t make it. it took us 10 minutes too get him to the ER. we pulled into ambulance bay, the doors flew open and they pulled me and the patient out. i continued compressions until they got him to his room and i was picked up and placed off to the side.

i stood in a complete daze.

i walked back to the rig and there was amanda, sitting inside the rig at the back doors. i sat next to her. i don’t know how long we were there but i finally said blankly, “i guess we should clean it up.” we grabbed the GPC (general purpose cleaner) and some towels and began wiping up the blood.

the rig looked like a scene from texas chainsaw. amanda had SOME blood on her, but i was covered in it. arms, face, my coveralls were drenched. i probably looked like a miniature michael myers. we never said a word; we just wiped up the blood. finally the ER director screamed at us, “WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU TWO STILL DOING IN THERE, GET IN MY OFFICE….NOOOOOW!!!!!!”

we slowly climbed out the rig and he put his hands on our shoulders and walked us into the ER; it was fucking chaos. it was so bad they had security blocking access to the ER entrance- too many people were getting in the way.

he walked us into his office and there the the director for mental health; he escorted us upstairs.

what you have to understand, is when you’re in that moment; when you see the blood, you understand the gravity- training kicks in. i’d become a machine. i was meticulous with putting systemic puzzles together to determine what was affected and how it could affect other systems. you are SOOOO FUCKING JACKED on adrenalin that i could never describe it to you.

i weigh 135 pounds and i’ve torn open car doors to get to a patient when i knew fire/rescue were too far away. i’ve drug patients that outweighed me by almost 100 pounds in midst of trauma. the human body truly is an amazing machine.

but when it’s over, you are so completely drained that you can’t even move, much less hold a coherent thought. you’re a fucking zombie. every damn trauma baptized in blood HM i know knows the feeling. these guys are fucking angels at your side that will pull you from the very jaws of Death to keep and you alive.

but when it’s over- leave us the fuck alone. we need to decompress. don’t talk to us, don’t console us, don’t empathize. unless you’re one of us, you’ll never understand. the mental health director was there to do a CISD (critical incident stress debrief), and he knew all our sorry asses WELL.

but he could see we were bot a bit more “off” after this call. he asked me how i felt and i shrugged my shoulders. told him i just wanted to go home, take a shower and go to sleep. he recommended i shower and change at work and i told him i just wanted to get the fuck off the base and back home. amanda said she wanted to do the same thing.

amanda’s husband dropped me off then took his wife home, he was given the day off to look after wifey. that command was REALLY good about looking after their trauma junkies.

i got home, peeled off my blood stained jumper, took a shower, walked into my bedroom, and literally fell onto the bed. i didn’t wake up until the next morning. i slept just under 24 hours.

sonia had class that monday, and she had errands to run tuesday but told me she was coming over later that afternoon. sonia had no clue about this aspect of my job, and when i saw her that afternoon i couldn’t hide the fact that something was wrong. by his time i had been dating her 4-5 months.

and we were about to have our first VERY serious talk. the talk where i first “let a woman in” and make myself vulnerable.

to be continued….

stay up.

One Comment on “On Being Vunerable: Part I- Carnage”

  1. commenting101 says:

    Damn brother. That’s intense.

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