Saturday, August 16, 2008

On Top of the World

One of the more exciting parts of my job involves going to the helipad to receive patients transfered in by helicopter. Normally it's pretty cool - me and a security guard at the top of the hospital, wandering around the roof looking down at the city waiting for the chopper to arrive. It's best at night; pushing a stretcher up the ramp in darkness and steering it beside the helicopter while its blades are still spinning, unloading some injured patient, and rushing back down to the trauma room. Feels like a scene out of ER or M*A*S*H*.

I was working a hallway team last night when I heard the overhead page for an incoming helipad patient. On my way up to the roof, I learned that the patient was being transfered to our pediatric ICU. I'd never had a pediatric patient flown in before - usually we receive transfers to our cath lab or trauma room, but this time it was a very sick looking intubated seven year old. Lifting him onto our stretcher, I saw for the first time a passenger exit the helicopter as well. The boy's father looked distraught as he accompanied us down the elevator and past equally sick-looking children surrounded by machines in the PICU. He stood by helplessly as we transferred his son onto the PICU bed and teams of doctors and nurses descended to stabilize the boy. Bringing the helicopter crew back up to the roof, I realized that as much as I enjoy going up there, I hope I never have to receive another sick kid.

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