Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Tucker's Story

So here is the heart attack story, Readers Digest version.

We were recording a site called Ballroom Cave roughly 1 mile up canyon from the parking lot with a bunch of volunteers when we hearsomeone throwing up and then the guy who had organized all the volunteers asking if anyone had a cell phone. He told us that this man was having a heart attack (his 3rd). One of the volunteers had a phone, but since we were in the bottom of a canyon, and in the middle of nowhere, cell phone service was scare. Luckily we had just surveyed the canyon the day before, and had found multiple routes to the top where I thought we might be able to get cell service. So I grabbed the cell phone and ran out of the canyon through this natural ramp in the slick rock, and across the dunes on top until I had a line of sight to the Abajo Mountains where the nearest cell tower is. I called 911 and informed them that it was going to be very difficult to get this man out of there, being in a narrow canyon a mile from the nearest road. The dispatcher I don't think believed me. But none the less he sent the EMT's and I hightailed it out to the highway to meet them. Mean while Ben and Hugh (the 2 guys I work with) had headed for the truck to get a shade tarp to use as a stretcher if need be, so I saw them in quick passing as I ran out and they ran back in. About 15 mins after the call was made, a State Trooper showed up and he radioed the ambulance exact directions. The ambulance was only about a minute behind him, and then it took another 10mins for them to get ready to head out. Meanwhile the driver was arguing with me about there being a road that lead into the canyon (its a box canyon with 100ft walls) and how she used to ride her 4-wheeler out in this area pot hunting. So finally we were off with their gear and a back board. I hiked fast, they hiked slow... so it took them about 20+ minutes to reach the site. They stabilized the man inside of a prehistoric kiva where he was in the shade while the State Trooper organized a Heli evac, and for a Search and Rescue team to come down from Monticello with what is called a Stokes Stretcher which is a gurney with 1 large wheel in the center to wheel people out of a back country situation. More on that later. So as they are stabilizing the man, no one is listening to us as far as the most efficient way of getting him out of there. The canyon was too tight for the helicopter to land in the canyon, and the walls too steep to haul him out of the canyon that way. Though they tried to argue that way. So 30 mins later we get him strapped to a backboard, and begin the arduous process of first getting him down the steep, tall sediment terrace to the drainage bottom which is flatter and where the trail is. So through a process of running, jumping and controlled sliding we finally got him down (meanwhile the 2 rather large State Troopers stayed in the back to make sure their uniforms didn't get dirty). From there we started hiking down canyon, with the promise that the Search and Rescue team was coming up canyon to meet us with the wheeled gurney. Sure enough about a quarter of a mile down canyon we meet them, and strap the patient onto the gurney. Now in a bit of a different situation, the gurney may have been very nice, but not when you are having to lift it over logs, and through steep gullies. It just added 150+lbs to a already heavy load. So we all took turns manning the 4-6 positions on the gurney as we push him outta there. (State troopers still being unhelpful). I have no clue how long we took getting him from site to helicopter, but we finally broke free of the canyon and hit the highway to the sight of a chopper landed in the middle of Hwy 95 which had been closed, and we loaded him up, and off he went to Durango. He lived, and Winston (my boss) talked to him later that night. It turned out that he had a completely clogged stint. So after 3 hr ordeal from first symptoms to extraction all of us were completely exhausted. So after some water, a few minute sit in the shade of the truck, we hiked back up canyon to the site to finish out our 10 hr work day, when all of us would have rather gone and had a cold beer. Who says archeology is boring... I just hope its never that kind of adrenalin rush again. 

Thanks Tucker for that engaging story. I included a photo with that story from our trip to see Tucker in Utah this past April.

School is going well and we are doing all those things that have to happen in September. Lots of fire drills and trying to learn 400 student's names! Today I had a Kindergarten class in the gym and  they were playing a new game. This class has several non-English-speaking children. When we stopped playing the new game to review the rules, 2 boys sat next to each other and started to talk to each other. The funny thing about their conversation was that one child was speaking his native African language and the other was speaking Chinese! They seemed quite interested in what the other had to say!

Tomorrow I leave for Women's Weekend so there will not be a post for a few days so don't lose interest. Check back on Sunday. I won't give too many details about the weekend because what happens on Women's Weekend, stays on Women's Weekend! But I might be able to find a few highlights to share.

GrandDad (my Dad) celebrates his 80th birthday on Saturday in Michigan with Bob and Joanie and many Michigan Friends! Happy Birthday, Dad!

P.S. Corey, you can have the silverware if I don't give it away before I die!

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