It’s with great pleasure that we thank you, the readers, for hanging out with us for five years.
We’ve taken some really amazing trips to American Civil War battlefields, endured fog and pouring rain on both American and international golf courses, been trapped in elevators, survived bomb scares, witnessed bloody crime scenes, and lived to tell the tales.
Some intriguing people have agreed to do interviews about their jobs and in the process, have opened the eyes of our readers far and wide about the rigors of law enforcement in its many forms.
Police Academies, Fire Fighter Academies, Emergency Medical Training Schools, Firearms Training sites, Criminal Investigation Facilities – have all generously allowed us to take photos and chat with the instructors at length. Fascinating stuff.
We’ve met with Visiting Detectives – an assortment that included a psychic detective, a vegetarian detective, and a time-traveling detective from the 1800s. Sheila chimed in while they worked on puzzling cases with me. The Vegetarian Detective brought brownies. Yum.
Kerrian’s Notebook, Volume 1, which included stories from 2011 and 2012 no longer available on the website, was published in response to the readership that wanted the (over 50) stories from the first year collected into one ebook. Don’t have your copy yet? Click on the link and find it at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HI6YBDG
You’ve made the journey fun. And then some. 🙂
During the years, we kept track of which posts were the most popular, which ones you kept visiting over and over again. For research? For another laugh? To prove a point? For some of you, all three. Here is the result.
Click on the links and take a look at your Top 10 Favorite Kerrian’s Notebook posts in reverse order thru 2016:
And the most popular post?
Thank you, one and all! 🙂
Next time you’re in town, give us a call. We’re always happy to chat about the latest trip or the trickiest case. If you’re lucky, you might even meet one of the Visiting Detectives. There’s always a pot of coffee on and a piece of pie just begging to be eaten.
*Fingerprint photo taken by Patti Phillips at SIRCHIE, in Youngsville, North Carolina.
We’ve been seeing quite a few ambulances in the neighborhood lately. It’s human nature to wonder who is sick or hurt and to see more than one a week at certain houses is more than a little worrying. We are lucky enough to live within four miles of the hospital, so response time is pretty quick – 7-8 minutes from the time the call is made to get help. But, we have two Senior citizens living close by and sadly, the sirens have been blaring every few days. A couple of times, the crisis was managed at the house and other times, our old friends made the trips to the hospital.
What does a paramedic actually do? Suppose the patient is not at home, surrounded by friends and family?
The paramedics are responsible for pre-hospital care. They do all they can to keep the patient alive until the person can be seen by a doctor. They cannot act on their own, however. After hearing the patient’s Vital Sign numbers, the Emergency Room doctor at a health care facility (usually the closest hospital) gives orders to the paramedic via phone or other device about the procedure to follow. This is no easy task, because the EMTs/paramedics must communicate not just the numbers, but also the state of the patient’s appearance and what may have caused the problem to begin with. A medical history isn’t always available (as at an accident scene), and the reason for a sudden loss of breath sounds or heart beating may not be apparent.
A paramedic’s first job is to keep the patient alive, and that may mean getting the heart started again, getting breathing going again, and/or stopping blood loss.
There are protocols to follow.
One person is in charge of the case at the time. He/she delegates the jobs for the rest of the team to carry out.
It is a two person job to clear the airways, monitor the patient’s vitals and administer whatever drugs are necessary to get breathing started.
If the heart has stopped, there is a mathematical procedure to follow: 32 chest compressions followed by two breaths, with the team switching positions every five minutes. Ever try to do this? It’s not easy to keep the compressions going for five full minutes. They must continue the process until the heart beats on its own or until the ambulance reaches the hospital. They keep “working on the code.” If they can get started on the chest compressions within three minutes, then there is a greater likelihood that oxygen will get restored to the brain.
But, that’s not all that is happening on the ride to the hospital. Blood sugar and other levels are checked while in transport. These days, an ambulance is a mobile intensive care unit. It’s the paramedics’ lab. Tablets are proving to be invaluable, because they can deliver more information to the doctor – including cardiac readings – and then the doctor can make more informed decisions about the transit care.
Ever take a ride in an ambulance when you weren’t a patient? I got to do that once and I was surprised to find out that the siren wasn’t nearly as loud when we were sitting inside. I also discovered how much bouncing goes on in the back of the ambulance. Roads are not as smooth as you might think and some neighborhoods have speed bumps installed that slow down the ride considerably. But, one of the guys revealed that they train while the ambulance is moving – including inserting lines for fluids! They anticipate the normal bumps and rocking that occurs and develop a rhythm for doing their jobs. A bit like getting used to working at sea.
Because there may be a shortage of doctors available to give medical orders (they may be busy with another patient from an accident, or another heart attack victim) some regions of the country now have paramedics that are so highly trained that they can work under a doctor’s license without contacting a hospital. This requires special certification – not every paramedic is allowed to do this.
The average pay for paramedics is a little over $40,000 a year. What kind of training is needed? The first step is Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) training – about 150 hours (9 weeks). After passing certification tests and working in the field for at least six months, then the candidates become eligible to attend Paramedics school – an additional 1200-1800 hours of training (perhaps two years). Then, you can work in a fire station, in a hospital, or anywhere that employs a paramedic – even at a resort. Of course, you have to be able to lift sick and injured people, have a stomach for working with broken bones, nauseous patients, and bloody accident scenes. Think you can do that? It’s a rewarding career if you can.
A related article shows what an EMT might do at the scene of an explosion, before the patient ever gets into the ambulance. The event was a simulation, but the pictures may be too intense for some people. Click here to read “How many bodies at the scene?”
*Photos by Patti Phillips
(WARNING: Some photos may be upsetting to some people.)
Last month, Sheila and I had a chance to attend a simulation with law enforcement, firefighters, EMS professionals, and students in action at a multi-casualty accident scene. We saw how their skills are tested when a drunk driver runs a traffic light and smashes into a yard sale, killing and maiming several people.
How do the EMS, firefighters, and police learn to work together to handle the horrific scene? They practice, in demonstrations just like this one.
Typically, an onlooker at an accident calls 911, gives whatever details are available – location of the accident, number of people injured, whether or not there is more than one car involved. Rarely are the callers calm and collected, but the dispatcher has to keep his/her cool, no matter how bad it sounds. The information is passed on to the agencies that can help and usually, the closest one to the accident site responds.
The First Responder assesses the accident, notifies Dispatch as to what other help may be needed, and establishes a perimeter. In this scenario, the First Responder was a deputy from the Sheriff’s Department.
He took a look at the scene, called for backup, made some decisions, checked to see who was still alive, and helped those he could while he waited.
Fire and Rescue arrived at the scene next.
The driver of the car did not appear to be injured, was not pinned inside, and no gasoline was leaking from anywhere, but the Firefighters were needed to lift the car off two victims who were trapped underneath it. One was ‘dead,’ but one was still alive.
The Firefighters used a Hurst Spreader (commonly known as the ‘jaws of life’) in addition to assorted chocks and lumber in order to stabilize the car before pulling the victims free.
Standard procedure indicates that after the initial assessment and after additional help has arrived, law enforcement takes care of the driver issues and rescue takes care of the victims. Law enforcement continues to help where needed.
A Breathalyzer test was administered to the driver, since the road was not wet, and there was no other apparent reason for him to plow into a front yard full of people. Witness statements were taken from those involved at the scene. Onlookers were kept at a safe distance throughout the simulation.
The ambulances arrived and EMS workers evaluated the injured people.
While cries of “Please help us,” and “She needs help,” were heard continuously in the background, one of the EMS workers assigned black, red and yellow tags to the victims.
Yellow tag: broken bones, but alert
Red tag: will die if not treated immediately, still breathing on own
Black tag: not breathing
After the car was elevated, the person underneath was pulled out, strapped onto a stretcher, then transported to the hospital.
EMS workers enlisted the aid of lightly injured victims and urged them to talk to the more seriously hurt. Keeping the injured awake and alert was an important part of assessment. If the victims lost consciousness, or had slurred speech, then they went to the head of the line for treatment and transport.
One of the EMS gals told us later that it’s not unusual to have to talk people into leaving others behind in order to get help for themselves at the hospital. Some victims appear to be fine, but wander around the area in confusion and shock, unaware of cuts and more serious injuries of their own.
One of the victims who kept crying out for help for others, eventually collapsed, was put on backboard and then lifted to a gurney for transport.
The last victim was treated and transported, the driver was arrested and taken to jail and all that remained was the cleanup. The firefighters took off their jackets, gathered their gear and re-stowed it in the rescue truck.
What was the difference between this simulation and the explosion simulation we witnessed last year? That one included unknown perpetrators and a continuing threat that widened from the campus to the airport and public transportation. Both law enforcement and EMS personnel gathered evidence at the scene (which in some cases was embedded in the victims).
At the Yard Sale simulation, the evidence collected was in the form of photos of the scene, the Breathalyzer test, as well as witness statements from onlookers and victims. The threat was specific to the scene and dealt with.
Both were crime scenes, but played out quite differently.
As we saw last year at the explosion simulation, the three groups at the ‘Yard Sale’ were professional and took the simulation seriously. Their interaction appeared seamless and we were impressed by the way they worked near each other in order to complete their assigned tasks and then jumped in to help each other when needed. Well done!
*Photos by Patti Phillips, except one.
All taken at Guilford County Community College, in North Carolina.
*Photo taken and shared by Terry Odell, writer. Thanks! Follow her blog and find out about her books at www.terryodell.com