October 20, 2006

A'skeert Me

So... I'm on the job today. I was working on the bottom hoistway door, and my helper was working on the cartop. He had come downstairs to pull some wires down into the COP, and went back up. I was talking to the electrician's for a few moments, and then I heard a tremendous crash. It took about a half a second for my brain to formulate that someone had fallen off of something, and I immediately thought it was my helper.

Let me tell you that I was at a Dead Run up those stairs, before any of the electrician's even pulled their jaw's up. I turned the corner upstairs, only to see "Bobby" heading my way yelling "John! Guy's! Come help!". When I saw him, there was the briefest moment of relief that flitted through my head, (He's an 18 year-old kid who I really like, and I would have a lot of trouble living with myself if anything befell him while he was on one of my jobs.) then I saw the "Finish Rocker" who had been "Mudding" drywall joints laying on his back on the cold concrete.

Most of what follows is more a "sense memory" than anything else: I bent over him, and shook him slightly, and asked if he was okay... no response. I looked at his eyes, and saw that they were slightly open, but nobody was home. I saw jhim blow a bubble with his saliva, so I figured he was breathing. The "Lead Man" of the electrician's had arrived upstairs, and he said something to the effect of "Cover him up... you know. Shock." Not a bad idea, so I did a quick 360 and saw nothing suitable, so I took off my jacket and coverred him up as best I could. I grabbed for my phone to call 911, and the electrician beat me to it, so I went back to my "patient". I was kneeling down in front of him, and took his head into my hand. I checked to see if he was still breathing, and that his ariway was clear. I almost started CPR, but he began to heavily inhale. I started to get really concerned when he exhaled. It didn't come out as a puff of air, but as the most disguieting "HRNNNNNNNnnnnnnnnn" sound. I just held his head for a few moments while he continued this labored breathing. Something in my mind told me that he was trying to say "Huuuuuurt" when he exhaled, so I asked him where it hurt. Still unresponsive, and his eyes were still dead. I remember saying "Oh Jesus" when I saw the blood come out of his right ear and splash down onto my hand. "He's gonna Fuckin' Die on me" went through my head. Then he started to move his head around. I tried to tell him to lie still, and that help was on the way, but I might as well have told the wall. He started to roll over, and I just had to let him. He got up on his hands and knees, and blood started rolling out of his nose. He crawled over to a ledge, and then pulled himself to his feet. He stood there leaning on the ledge, and we all were trying to tell him to lie back down and take it easy. Then the EMT's showed up, and I backed off.

I guess it was around five minutes total from when I arrived until help got there. Great response time but the town I'm working in only has around 2000 people or so, so they didn't have to come very far. I can almost throw a rock and hit the local community hospital. The Medics were doing there thing, and I was extremely relieved to hear him responding to their questions. Unfortunately, he didn't know how old he was. He told them that he was in his "Thirties" when they asked him, then responded "1958" when he was asked how old he was. He sounded kinda "muddy" when he spoke. They got him into a neck brace, and were halfway through getting him strapped onto a gurney when I heard him say (In a clear voice) "What the Hell happenned?". Damn was I happy to hear that.

This incident occurred at around 11:45 AM, and I'm still trying to come down from the adrenaline high. As far as I know, I was the only person on the job who is certified in First Aid/CPR, and this was the first time that I've had to use it. I'm pleased that I was actually able to do Something, but I can't help but feel that there was more I could/should have done to assist this man. (Some people just "lock up" under pressure, but I proved to myself today that I'm capable of reacting in these situations... That's good to know.) The Eight-Hour training session that I took to get my certification actually did some good, but I think I'm going to start re-reading the material's that I was given during the course, I don't know... at least once a month. I need to train myself better for the off-chance that this type of thing happens again. Next time, it may be an hour or two before the Paramedic's show up.

That whole "He's gonna die on me" feeling, Fucked with me... HARD. (I'm still getting a lump in my throat when I think about it.) If there's ever a next time, I'm resolved to be better prepared. What if it's "Bobby"?... Or any of my Family?... Or my Friends?... Or another Complete Stranger? I need to feel like I did all that I "Should Have Done" when the Pro's arrive, instead of all that I "Could Have Done".

I'm here to tell ya folks. That Shit Scared Me.

Posted by Johnny - Oh at October 20, 2006 06:35 PM | TrackBack

Ack! I'm so glad I work in an office environment where I only have to worry about whether the men folk bothered to get their hearts checked like they were supposed to.

I think if I saw blood pour out of someone's ear, I'd wig out.

Posted by: Bou at October 20, 2006 08:04 PM

I seem to remember that you were gonna get brushed up on your CPR due to the proclivity of heart attacks around you. Do it girl! (If you haven't already.)

I think I understand (Now) how you felt when Mr. Magoo fell out. It's a scary thing to feel helpless when someone around you is hurting.

Luckily, I've drunk enough to get over the adrenaline, but the "Lump" is still there. I hope it never goes away... This type of stuff is too important.

At any rate... Thanks for the comment. Feedback helps.

Posted by: Johnny - Oh at October 20, 2006 08:54 PM

... whoa... you did good, man.... but wow... scary situation....

Posted by: Eric at October 21, 2006 08:40 AM

Wow. I hope he's okay. That's scary. You did very good though. I hope I would react in the same way...but you never know.

Posted by: drc at October 21, 2006 10:13 AM

You did fine, Johnny-Oh. You didn't freeze, and you didn't freak out...and you didn't start giving him CPR (because he was breathing).

You train and train for emergencies, but you never know how one will affect you. And you may or may not save someone - but that person is almost always better off because you were there.

Hope the dude's OK...

Posted by: Elisson at October 21, 2006 12:55 PM

I am getting brushed up on it this year. I can't lose one of those guys in my office. It would haunt me. I've been certified so many times in the last 34 years... but I just let this one lapse.

You did handle it really well. as I said, I would probably wig...

Posted by: Bou at October 21, 2006 02:29 PM

Way to go, son, I'm proud of you.

Posted by: Dad at October 23, 2006 12:34 PM

Hang in there. It is so good that you didn't freeze and now you have a sense of what may come to pass. Prepared is good.

Posted by: Richmond at November 1, 2006 09:35 PM

Proud of you, relieved for him.

Looks like elevatorin' is a more dangerous job than I thought.

Posted by: Harvey at November 9, 2006 02:55 PM

As someone who has "lost" someone, I can assure you that you don't "lose" them. They get "taken". It is great to be prepared. And it will be even better if you extend someone's life with your actions.

But don't for one *SECOND* think you can do something to save someone who's time has come.

Doing so would represent an unreasonable burden you don't need to carry.

Posted by: _Jon at November 10, 2006 04:52 PM

... post, slacker.... or I'm de-linking your sorry ass....

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