Wednesday, January 17, 2007


One of the sixteen pages of things I am required to be able to do is remove the clumsy and unfortunate from the depths or heights of their point of impact.

In my profile I mentioned; EMT and a few other helpful things. When I was a Boy Scout I found an enjoyment of knots. I guess you can say I am a knotty person. The highest compliment I have received (work related) was when a coworker said, out loud and in public, " I'll go anywhere if he rigs it, but I ain't tying the knots!"

The definition of a confined space in our place is; some place that can admit a person, has one way in or out, not meant for continuous habitation, and lacks adequate ventilation. All that sounds good, but the definition fits the top of a telephone pole as well as the inside of a tank.

We have an area we call primary containment, or the drywell, which is a pressure vessel designed to hold seventy pounds per square inch, and all the pipes, pumps, and valves that you can imagine. Its never well lit, always hot, always Hi Rad and severely contaminated. The overall impression is "Dungeon, where are the chains and bones?" It is a very large place and very full. You have to climb over stuff and up and down ladders. All in all, the best you can say is it's very cramped.

I got a call one day saying "Joe Blow the engineer has fallen from fifty two ft elevation to thirty eight elevation, down the ladder."

Oh damn!

I know him. He weighs about three hundred pounds. Please call the world, or at least the fire brigade. After a rapid scurry to the entrance, and a world record dress out for contamination, I scampered through the air lock, around the inside of the 'well, and twenty feet up a ladder to find Joe in a fetal ball with his back to a steam line. Joe being an EMT also, and quick on the uptake is refusing to move. So I ask him, "What up?" He gave me a laundry list so bad I almost cried. Starting with crushed vertebrae topping the list, with bleeding and broken bones in there somewhere.

Now for the "BAD NEWS", we don't have any hi angle rescue equipment. What we have is some slings and shackles I signed out on long term, some braided line I stole from the refuel floor and some pulleys one of the guys bought out of pocket. We could hang him or drag him, but not very well. I was the only one with any rescue training. Well Now!

The next man up the ladder was a provisional paramedic.

Thank You God!
Hey Dude, He's yours, here's what you got, I'll start the rigging for the lowering, see ya! The five man fire brigade showed up and said "What?".
Have you ever tried to train five people, in a high noise area that just happens to be a high radiation area? I thought not. Let me 'splain to you Lucy, their are no explanations, just a lot of bellowing and pointing.

We were in the hole for a while, by now the Uh-Oh squad is on scene. Those are the people who show up to look at the poor hurt guy, so they can later strike a pose and tell an audience how screwed up the unfortunate victim is. They were in the way, so one of our more independent thinkers, not too lovingly known as 'Capn Snappy, strolled up and told the mob, "If you ain't helpin' get out!" They grumbled, but they went. Now days, we point Security at them and say 'sic 'em! Think pit bulls with guns and no sense of humor.

Our secondary containment is equipped with a railroad car airlock (large building) and the idea was talked around about bringing the ambulance in the reactor building. That would have made the national news. Fortunately we got Joe out of the 'well before that point.

Meanwhile back in the 'well we had secured Joe to a back board, stood him up, and pushed him into space. I had rigged a line to the top of his board and to an overhead pipe. Keep in mind the first fall, if he was ever going to have heart failure, it should have been then. I would have peed my pants, but not a peep from Joe.

Did I mention the board wasn't meant for lifting? Joe being the extra fluffy sort started to sag in the bindings, what I mean is I thought we were going to pull his head off. Still, not a squeak from Joe, now I'm really worried. If you hurt please scream at me, that lets me know that you are alert and have an open airway. When we got him to the next elevation down, head still attached, every one who had a clue breathed a sigh of relief. Joe included.

Remember the three hundred pounds, the pipes and stuff? We carried him, or if needed slid him on the deck under equipment, to the air lock. Not as easy or quick as that sentence makes it sound. There are four steps up to a landing and inner door that is only wide enough for one to pass. I had the heavy end, and half way through had to set him down or drop him. At that time I weighed in at about two fifteen and ran six miles a day, so you can estimate how much fun that was! After a stretcher ride and a hand off to EMS, we went back to work.

The next day Joe was back at work, broken scapula,compression fractures of the spine and all. I have no idea where the broken limbs and blood went. It could have been blood sweat or tears.

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