Friday, November 23, 2007

A Doctor in the House: Touchdown at Boeing Field

Michelle found the landing uneventful, if nerve wracking. Her patient didn't crash on her, and the family seemed to be holding up, but she fretted over the fact that she couldn't get an EKG or an accurate blood pressure, and didn't have any of the usual drugs for treatment. There was also the question of whether there would be any more disappearances. Also, she didn't know what to expect on the ground. Would there be transport available? How busy were they likely to be?
To her dismay, she found out almost as soon as they got off the plane. This was  a real chore since Boeing Field wasn't equipped to handle disembarking passengers. Fortunately, the ground crews did have loading platforms for freight that could be co-opted to get the passengers off the plane. They worked although for a sick man, they did not work well. Once they were on the tarmac, she was greeted by one of the on-duty paramedics.
"Um, Dr. Ravenswing? I'm  paramedic Matt Brogan. I understand that you had a medical emergency in flight." He looked exhausted.
Michelle took in the bags under his eyes  and the exaggerated care with which  he moved, then answered, "Yes, we did. And if you'll pardon my saying so, you look like you've been dealing with some  emergencies of your own."
Brogan nodded. "Yeah, that happens when random people disappear, especially if they're operating heavy machinery at the the time." He waved at one of the cargo planes on the apron. Looking carefully, Michelle observed that  a loading platform like the one they used to get the passengers off  her flight had apparently crashed into the landing gear and still had rescue personnel clustered around it. "That's not the only accident, but it's the easiest to point at." He turned his attention to the family  clumped around her. "So, what have you got? Please, let it be simple."
Michelle nodded. "This is John Stasievitch. He's 54 years old with a history of angina...," and she went through the report starting with  the history of his current illness and ending with what she'd done. She added, "If I can borrow some of your equipment, I'd like to get a more detailed exam and maybe start him on some meds."
Brogan told her, "You can't have my primary cuff; I'm using it, but the multi-cuff should do, and the heart monitor is available. As far as drugs go, unless you need lidocaine, I'm out of IV fluids. You can put in a hep lock and run small dose stuff in though, and we can spare one O2 cylinder and mask."
"It'll have to do."  Michelle busied herself with re-examining her patient with assistance from  the paramedic.
In the meantime, Mrs. Stasievitch and and their daughter, Tiffany, plied  a rather bewildered cargo handler with questions about what was going on. Tiffany seemed especially frantic about finding out if anyone had any theories about the disappearances. The cargo handler had no idea, but she did confirm that anyone she'd heard from who had kids was having hysterics. If there was a pattern to the disappearances of  anyone over the age of about 12, nobody she knew had figured it out. She ended up explaining that she was putting in extra work today because nobody she cared for had vanished.
"Heck, only disappearance I care about is an annoying male chauvinist oink of a supervisor. I'm getting a lot more work done without him waving a Bible in my face all the  time. Speaking of work, I really should be getting this luggage to the terminal. Your stuff's tagged properly?" On getting this confirmed, she informed them that airport would hold their luggage for them until they had a chance to come back for it. "You worry about people, not things, 'kay?"
Michelle and Brogan finished up with the patient and turned to the problem of transport. "Unless Mr. Stasievitch looks like he's about to code, you're gonna have to take a civilian chopper to the hospital," Brogan told her. "Medevac's only being used for category one patients, and ground transport just isn't going anywhere."
"No ground transport? Why not?"
"Multi-car pile ups on all the major highways and most of the primary and secondary streets, plus if they can get through, they're being used for local emergencies, like those multi-car pile ups. You have no idea what a mess it is out there."
Michelle sighed. Well, at least a helicopter had the advantage of speed. They loaded everyone onto one of those golf cart like vehicles found at airports everywhere, and Brogan drove them over to the flight school where one of the training helicopters was standing by. Then Michelle and the family all got on board. Just before the helicopter took off, Brogan told her that he'd retrieve the borrowed equipment from the hospital later.

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