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I’m flying, I’m flying!

Posted Nov 06 2008 11:41pm

I had my first helicopter ride-along yesterday. Leading up to yesterday, it looked likely that I would have to be tied to the helicopter in order for me to go, à la “What about Bob?” Luckily for me, I was just settling in when we got our first call around 7:10. This way, I had little time for second thoughts, as before I knew it, I had grabbed my camera, clamored into my seat, adjusted my headset, and became airborne. “Wow!” and “Ahh!” were the words overriding conscious thought. The view was amazing! I figured I might as well enjoy the ride, as I was kind of committed at that point. No one is more surprised than I am that I enjoyed it immensely. Especially as I classify a simple elevator ride as the moment I was most scared in my life.

Before 9:30 we had run two calls. The first was an ejection from a vehicle. The patient was basically okay and extremely lucky.
The second one was a motorcyclist v. deer. This patient had an obvious facial fracture (I may even go as far as calling it a Le Fort II, unconfirmed, of course), but his vitals were stable and he was maintaining his own airway. We were only about 4 minutes from the trauma center anyway, so we decided to just monitor him. Shortly after we arrived at the hospital, they decided to RSI him (rapid sequence intubation, where you knock the person out with drugs, then intubate them). Sounds vicious, but its really not. Unless, as in this case, the tube was missed the first time, further attempts were made, a crash cart was called, a cric kit was opened, and the patient was deprived of oxygen so long that his heart rate was in the 30s and he was throwing bigeminal PVCs. (Don’t worry if you only understood half of that sentence.) They ended up getting the tube in the right place and all was right with the world.

The rest of the day was pretty quiet. I picked up lunch, watched a movie, did homework, and fell asleep for a while; far more mundane than the first half of my day. Around 5:30 we got another call, but we were cancelled halfway there. I was dead excited just to fly at night.
It’s funny, for as much as I thought I would hate it, I couldn’t wait to go on another call.

A few things I learned:
-take-off is interesting
-turning is not always subtle
-150 mph is fast
-talking on headsets is fun!
-car seatbelts are useful when applied
-1000 feet up isn’t so bad
-autumn is the greatest season
-helicopters are extremely photogenic
-landing is interesting
-there is no graceful way to get in and out

Bottom line: helicopters are hot.

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