I'm now a Sergeant at my volunteer Firehouse and, this particular duty night, I'm in charge.
1900, Assign housework, apparatus checks and get dinner ordered. We eat, run some training and then get ready for a long night.
You see, the moon is full and the night is one of the warmer ones as spring starts to seep its way into our area. I'm ready for stabbings, shootings, fights, drunken silliness and more.
First call: car vs. car at an intersection. I have the most cooperative and mellow patient in the world. She's in the driver's seat and got t-boned (side impact) she's got no complaints other than a painful hand and head. The arriving crew before us has already put a collar on her and we arrive in time to extricate her.
Both cars are sitting where they stopped and I have to crawl over the hood of one car to get into the passenger door of the one my patient is in. The plan is to pull her out, feet first, from the driver's side door onto a long backboard. My job is to guide her head and shoulders down into the passenger seat and to keep her head in line with the rest of her spine. It's not as elegant as it would seem. Cars these days are built in a way that they seem to wrap around a person and make it difficult to just turn them 90 degrees and lay them down. I have to negotiate the parking brake, gearshift, armrest/console and the bucket seats. All the while we're bouncing this girl around a bit. She's not complaining, wincing, or crying at all.
This is not normal.
We get her onto the backboard, into the ambulance and YoungJim and I work her up. Rapid trauma assessment reveals no obvious injuries or pain other than her left hand. Ok. I ask her if she hurts anywhere other than her hand (NO) and if she feels different or funny.
"I can't feel anything." She says calmly.
UH OH! I'm thinking she can't FEEL anything!!! Quickly, I check that she has motor, sensory and a pulse in each of her legs and hands. I pinch the top of each foot, "Wiggle the toes of this foot."
"Ow! Ok." she says.
Same with the other foot and both hands. Good. Apparently she meant that she didn't feel ANYTHING as in she wasn't hurting anywhere. YoungJim and I take the tension down a few notches and calm down.
Grandma's going to ride with us.
"Do you mind if I take your grandma for a drive?" I ask the patient.
"Please do." She replies. "She needs to get out more." I install Grandma in the front passenger seat and drive easy and smooth to the hospital.