I reported into work and was immediately reassigned. Citywide can be a lot of things, but they do know their people and they know how to keep them healthy, happy and on the job. Dispatch was not the way to do it for me.
Fortunately, the Star had worked something out with them. They're heading up into the mountains for a week long training course in search and rescue- and they need a medic.
I'm pretty sure Casey had something to do getting me the job. He knows all too well what this is doing to me.
Now instead of dwelling on things, I have something to focus on. I have today and tomorrow morning to get all my gear together and report in. I'll be traveling with them to their base camp, where I'll stay.
If anything happens to them- they come to me. Sounds like its more of a sick call and first aid station than true paramedic work, but this way at least- I don't have to answer the phone and I don't have to spend my time worrying about the people I've dispatched.
I stopped by to see the physical therapist and he gave me a few exercises and some goals. He told me not to push to hard, but to push. Then he took me through a grueling routine.
"If you don't feel like that by the end of the session, you're doing something wrong," he told me.
I nodded, too tired to say anything.
"I'll see you in a week," he added.
I know I'm going to hate the routine, but I know I'll hate not riding even more. Case spent the day driving me around.
"Don't you have something more important to do?" I finally asked.
He smiled at me and shook his head. "Nothing more important than making sure our medic's good to go."
I looked at him for a minute and smiled. He had arranged this. "Our medic?"
He nodded, his smile broadening. "Yeah. We needed a medic for the exercises and I knew this great medic that was going bonkers in dispatch."
He knows me too well.
I stopped by the hospital and talked to Ray a little bit, looks like when he gets out he's going to be the one at dispatch. He and Gwen had a long talk-- she wants him to do something 'safer'.
I don't think he's in any condition to argue about it right now, but somehow I think when it comes time, they're going to be having another talk.
I could be wrong, but I just can't see Ray giving up being a medic-- even for Gwen. And even if he does, he's not going to be happy about it.
We talked a while- about life, about what happened- about the fact that life has a tendency to happen in a major way around us. 'Just the way things are I guess (At least it is for me, but then again- I could be wrong)
Case picked me up from the hospital around eleven. He took me to the condo where I loaded up my gear- then we went to his place. I was a bit surprised when he had several bags packed and waiting by the door.
I think it really hadn't hit that he was going too until I saw his bags and mine together.
"What?" he asked. "You think I'm going to let you have all the fun?"
I think I was grinning like an idiot, but it was great. We're going to the mountains together for a week. Just Case, Me -- and 200 of his closest Star buddies.
Now this is 'roughing' it in style. The Star guys might not be having fun, but I sure am.
I've got first class accommodations and a trid; a thoroughly stocked station with everything I could possibly need to treat the kind of injuries we're expecting and 7 beds just in case.
Of course this just screams 'something is going to go wrong.' But after everything I've been through- I think I can handle it.
I almost feel sorry for Case, I'd feel more sorry for him if he was actually staying in his assigned tent with his assigned roommate. The man, Sgt McGruder, snores so loudly that everybody in the camp has complained.
They were kindly told that this is "supposed to be a realistic reproduction of what they'd be going through in a real search operation- so deal with it."
Case just opted to visit me. I mean with 6 open beds, a fridge and a trid, I had a lot more to offer than a cot next to the loudest snorer in camp.
I spent most of the day stowing my gear and checking out the facilities. The Star spent theirs setting up camp and getting familiar with the area.
Today was mostly orientation, which they didn't expect me to attend. I did anyway- I wanted to see exactly what they were planning for the week.
Looks like I can expect to see lots of muscle pulls and twisted ankles. I'm beginning to think some of these guys have never been anywhere that hadn't been paved. Should prove interesting.
Things were rather boring in the morning. I went through my stock and supplies, making sure I had everything I could need. By the time I finished everybody was at the main briefing/lecture.
I headed over to the big open grassy area to listen in. Then I saw Case. I felt like a kid in grade school-- He'd saved a spot for me.
They were discussing search procedures and as I watched I tried to figure out what was wrong. It took me a while, but then I realized why: the techniques they were teaching were based on searching for a fugitive-- someone who doesn't wan to be found.
I shook my head when they finished and one of the instructors glared at me. "Do you have a problem?"
I stood and took a deep breath. "Well sir... everything you've covered is designed to ... flush someone from cover... that's fine for doing a felon search... but search and rescue is different... Usually the people you're looking for want to be found... They're either trying to contact you... or they're in no shape to contact you... Either way, the search pattern is different.
They thought about what I said for a moment and then nodded. "How do the searches differ?"
I took a deep breath. "In one you're looking for hiding places. Trying to identify where the subject would go by the cover. The other... you're trying to find where they were going or trying to go...Tracking what could have happened along the way... "
The instructor nodded. "Still the procedures are the same..."
I shook my head and shrugged. "Different mind set I guess."
After I sat back down, I realized I'd based on my search for the boys on the assumption that they wanted to be found. I'd forgotten all about the fact that they were hiding.
The more I thought about it the more I realized that the whole thing with Raz had been an attempt to flush them out.
Since I opened up my big mouth, I got to teach the afternoon's classes on wilderness first aid. I took them through the basic procedures then added some key tricks in mprovising equipment. Then at the end I gave them an overview of 'survival medicine.'
There were a lot of people who were surprised that you could find medicines in nature-- I'd forgotten- just about everybody there got their meds from a bottle. It was an interesting day.
Case and I talked about it some over coffee in the station after lights out. We had a good chuckle over my assumption. It was a little bit late-- but at least I figured it out.
Today's classes ended up breaking down into smaller teams. Each team was taken out and allowed to practice what they'd learned. That's where I started having people to work on.
One case of poison ivy, two sprained ankles and one broken arm from an officer climbing a tree.
When they brought him in he was enraged. There should have been a warning if the tree wasn't able to support him. He'd picked a rotten branch, it broke while he was trying to hoist himself up.
I'm beginning to think they should teach 'remedial outdoorsmanship.'
"This is not the city... unlike the city... there's a lot of nature around. Nature is chaotic..."
The day started out nice enough but by two it was raining like a mad-dog. There were a lot of people complaining about the weather.
(See the above lecture.)
The afternoon brought more rain, and more injuries... another pair of sprained ankles and some scratches where someone had been trying to climb some of the steeper areas in the rain.
I know that they want realistic conditions, but they're going to take out half their people if this keeps up... and then they're going to learn how quickly the rescuers can become those in need of rescue.
Case spend the evening at the station, but two of the beds were taken and the trid was occupied. We talked until it was too late for him to go anywhere, so he finally opted to stay.
More rain, more minor injuries.
I sat in on the rescue techniques section. I could see the instructors sag slightly when I showed up. Seems medics also make lousy students in basic rescue classes- at least that's what they thought.
After they finished and people were getting to break up into teams to practice the instructor looked at me. "Miller- got anything you want to add?"
I shook my head. "Not really- the key is to keep yourself as safe/secure as possible... if you don't, then you're buddies are going to have to rescue you as well."
He seemed relieved when that was all I said. I was about to leave when he came over to talk to me. We watched as the students prepared for the exercises.
"So, what do you think about the camp so far?"
I smiled. "Its nice- got a lot to cover in one week..."
He nodded. "Unfortunately, that's about all the time the various departments can spare."
I nodded. "I hear ya on that one," I answered. That is a common problem, not only do you have to deal with the training budget, you have to deal with scheduling issues. I know with us a week is a long time to have a medic out training. "Ever think of cross training?"
I don't know why it hadn't crossed my mind before, or why it chose now to show up, but it was an idea. Folks at the Star tend to need medics on a regular basis... and rescue is part of our business.
He looked at me for a minute, then grinned. "Nah... never get it to fly- makes too much sense."
I nodded. Citywide and the Star are uneasy allies- it would take a merger for them to work together, and even then...
It was a good idea though.
After that it was sprains and pulls for the rest of the afternoon. I was almost out of ice by the time they called it an evening.
I wonder what chaos mother nature will throw our way tomorrow...
Ya know.. Sometimes I really wish I could keep my mouth shut!
The morning started out simply enough, bright clear day. If I'd been paying attention I'd have noticed how the birds weren't there-- how the search dogs seemed on edge. But no- I was busy going through the standard protocols. Sick call for the folks searching and then an inventory. I was packing things into kits for the expected types of injuries- and making sure what I'd need for anything else was stowed in my kit.
Good thing I did too, last opportunity I had to do it before all hell broke lose.
This outing may have started out mountain search and rescue, but it very quickly became "white water rescue."
I really wanted to talk to the person who put the base camp in the middle of a flood plane in the middle of Cascade Crow Territory in the middle of November. Of course, I probably should have seen it coming.
It had been warm- Indian summer. A combination of rain and melting snow up on the mountains spelled disaster for those of us below.
On the bright side, most of the people in camp were on higher ground practicing some of the techniques they were learning. I on the other hand was in the first aid station. I heard the water as a roar coming towards me with all the subtlety of a herd of rampaging elephants.
I didn't have time to do more than grab my kit and pray.
The water was fast and numbingly cold. Luckily the station was on higher ground than the rest of the camp, but that didn't give us much to work with.
By the end of the day, between my own escape and rescue work, we ended up with seven seriously injured and the rest of us were pretty much soaked. They medivac-ed out the worst cases but the rest of us were stuck there, at least for the night. The roads below were washed out and it was getting too dark to safely pick us up.
By evening our search and rescue training had become survival. I wish I could say that I was a help there, but by the time we realized it, I was exhausted and freezing. Case had taken over as medic, at least as far I was concerned.
I know they were talking about putting me with the women officers, and I can remember Case telling them that I wouldn't deal well with waking up with a bunch of strangers, even if they were all women.
I woke up around ten that night, Case was curled around me protectively trying to keep me warm. It felt nice.