Friday, November 24, 2006


I was reminded by something I read about an incident I dealt with in summer, at the Heritage Days festival here in Edmonton.

Three ladies of somewhat advanced years came over to the first aid post. One was looking a bit peaky, and she only spoke in Hebrew. The other two were from St. Albert, and all three were Jewish. Their friend was over from Israel - "The area that is currently being bombed", she said, via translation - and had left her medication at her friends house in St. Albert. She had chest pains, and it took quite a long time for the two of us to get the full story.

She ended up feeling fine, as we monitored her and gave her some oxygen. She just needed a little sit in the cool with some water - it was a very hot day. I ended up taking all three of them to the Arabic pavillion on a golf cart, so they could have a look around before they went home. They were all super friendly, and enjoyed the attention. We even had our photos taken with them, lots of fun. They were very impressed with our treatment of them, and with Edmonton in general.

But the point of this was to outline how hard it was to get history and symptoms from someone who doesn't speak your own language. I would ask the translator whilst looking at the patient, and watch as she responded, trying to get an idea of her level of discomfort based on her body language. It was quite the challenge, especially when there is a heart problem and you are trying to determine the severity of it.

It also highlights the two very different areas for us: alert people versus unconcious people. With people who can respond, you can try to find out some information, but it is often misleading, or they focus on the 'wrong' thing. With unconcious people, you treat what you find, which can often be simpler, but also way more scary and complicated.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Happy Ending

Last night I was at the Three Days Grace concert. First up were Idle Sons, then Mobile, followed by Theory of a Deadman. I was stage left with two other first aiders, watching the mosh pit curl back on itself and disgorge tiny wee crowd surfers like chunks of vomit (or "protein spills" as vomit is refered to on radio channels, heh).

We had a few things to deal with - bloody noses, crushed people, hurt feet. Most people got up and walked away. Like many of the mosh pits I've been to, bloody noses and black eyes are badges of honour. A few people who got a little bit squished came and sat on our stair chair for a bit. One or two had a little "protein spill" and felt better. A normal mosh pit. Suspected spinal injuries on one, but she was fine and soon disappeared into the crowd.

Later on, Three Days Grace were playing. A young lass was pulled from the front of the mosh pit by a security guard. I saw that she was in obvious distress, so I went over to help the security guard escort her over. She had trouble breathing, and I got her into the chair and tried to find out what was wrong. The concert noise, and her gasps, made it hard to work out what was happening.

Eventually, using my notepad, I was able to find out that she had been waiting six years to meet her favourite band, and had her autographed CD snatched from her hands whilst in the crowd. She was inconsolable, crying and wailing. I tried to get her to calm down, and I was seriously considering strapping her to the chair and transporting her to the first aid room to get her away from the noise and onto some oxygen.

A guy behind the side stage area tapped me on the shoulder and asked me which band. I asked her by way of notepad, and he saw her write "Idle Sons". He told me to hang on a minute. I crouched down and reassured her some more, trying to get her to slow her breathing rate. After a short while, the guy returned and we had a little shouted conversation. He had arranged for the band to meet with her - I thought he might do something like this. He asked if she was okay to walk, and I told him I'd take her until she was steady on her feet.

I knelt before her and told her that we were going for a walk. I held her hand and lead her behind the stage and over to where some of Idle Sons were waiting. She staggered, and then went from a hunched position to standing fully upright and saying "OH MY GOD!" really loudly. Seriously, it was better than giving her oxygen. She couldn't beleive it, and hugged two of the guys straight away. We walked under the seats to where their dressing rooms were, and the rest of the band were there. Members of the other bands were coming and going, and asked if this was the girl, and if she was okay now. She was delighted - looking from face to face, unable to believe her eyes.

I told 'em to take care of her, I told her to keep breathing, and I left them to it. They were just piling in the elevator to go up to their merchandising desk on the main floor.

I went back to our area and found the concert over. We waited until it all cleared, and then went back to the first aid room. A little later, when things were clear, I wandered over to the table where the bands were. I thanked Idle Sons for taking care of her, and learnt that a lot of people on the tour are called Sean. Heh.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Water Main

Yesterday afternoon there was a water main break on Jasper Avenue. This kind of thing happens when the temperature goes up and down like a yoyo. As a result of the pipe burst, an email went around to everyone in the building I work in which basically said "Don't pee!".

Everyone crossed their legs and carried on with their day.

A little while later another email arrived which basically said "OMG NO SPRINKLERS GET OUT NOW!". I can imagine the discussion downstairs:
Building Person 1: Better tell them not to pee, they can't flush
Building Person 2: Hmm that might get smelly after a while
BP1: True, maybe we should evacuate them before it gets too bad, hehehe
BP2: Hahaha, yes. Oh wait, what else uses water?
BP1: The sprinklers?
Both: ARGH! Get everyone out now before the insurance company gets us!

Of course, as we evacuated (so nice to be able to use the elevators rather than the stairs; no fire!) one wag was sure to mention how, if a fire did break out, we could probably put it out by peeing on it. A number of people with fixed grins enthusiastically agreed. It was a great relief to finally get home.