Sunday, April 17, 2011


Greetings from Cottonwood, Arizona!

I'm here at my day job -- which actually lasts two days and two nights at a time (Sunday morning - Tuesday morning, in this case) --  working as the flight paramedic aboard Angel 3, the Guardian Air / Verde Valley Medical Center EMS helicopter.

When we're not out saving lives (or at least moving 'em from point A to point B very quickly) in our red-white-and-blue Bell 407 helicopter, we (the pilot, the flight nurse, and me) hang out in our crew quarters, which include a living room, kitchen, bathrooms, supply room, laundry room, and a bedroom for each of us.

Our quarters are located in a little steel frame building that used to be a fire station, between the big Baptist church next door, the Emergency Department (ED) entrance a hundred yards or so behind us, ... and the hospital loading docks, right outside our bedroom windows.  Despite the whole "hospital - quiet zone" thing, the loading dock folks occasionally like to unload semi-trucks (sometimes with their backup alarms left on), rearrange dumpsters, and similar quiet-zone-friendly activities, at all hours of the day and night ... so we tend to sleep with fans turned on high or other forms of white noise.

We each carry a cell phone which links us to our dispatch at the airport in Flagstaff; when it goes off, we know our services are required.  The specifics of our mission, as far as dispatch can piece them together, are texted to us.  We climb into our flight suits, grab helmets, drug bag, laptop (for charting), handheld two-way radio, and night-vision goggles, and walk out the back door to our waiting aircraft, which sits on a concrete helipad right outside the ED entrance.

Besides working our shifts and keeping our professional licenses / certificates current, we med crew types are required to maintain a whole range of "alphabet soup" certifications:  Basic Life Support (BLS), Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS), Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP), Transport Nurse Advanced Trauma Course (TNATC).  We also spend a certain number of hours per year working clinical shifts in the ED, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), and the Pediatric ICU (PICU), and intubating patients in the operating room (OR).

Last but not least, we attend run reviews -- combination employee meetings, training / testing sessions, and actual reviews of selected flights -- every month, either in person at Guardian Air's main base at the Flagstaff airport, or by video conference at one of our Northern Arizona satellite bases (Kingman, Cottonwood, Winslow, and Show Low).

At this month's run review -- which starts at 9AM Tuesday, an hour after we get off-shift -- we'll be tested on our maternal and neonatal practice guidelines and skills (transporting pregnant women, delivering babies, taking care of newborns, that kinda thing) ...

... which means that in between flights this shift, I'm going to be reviewing baby-n-birthin' stuff instead of working on the book.  I'll get back to VANISHED sometime late Tuesday or Wednesday.

VANISHED-related updates for today:
  • It's been suggested to me that I may not want to post the entire book on this blog, even one rough-draft chunk at a time, so as to maximize the number of people who'll actually buy the book once it's finished; what do the rest of you think?  Makes a lot of sense to me, but at the same time I hate to keep folks who've already waited most of a decade to read the thing in suspense for another year or two.  Some of you, I know, have been waiting almost fifty-five years to hear the complete story of this crash.
  • In reading over the outline I posted yesterday, I realized that Chapters 9-12 should actually appear in the following order:  10, 12, 9, 11.  I'll post a revised outline sometime soon.
  • In fact, maybe that'd be the ideal compromise solution for posting parts of the book on here:  Just post summaries of each chapter in more or less the detail I included for Chapter 1 yesterday, answer specific questions about the crash (maybe by posting the relevant passages from the VANISHED draft manuscript), and make the entire draft manuscript available for proof-reading to a selected few of you.  How does that sound to everybody?  Anyone like to volunteer to be a proof-reader?
Well, that's about all I've got for tonight -- except for a really cool coat of arms, which I discovered by Googling the name of the home town of my latest follower on Twitter (thanks, Cristin!):

"The arms of Coudekerque-Branche are blazoned :
Sable, a hedgehog argent crowned Or."

Good night, everybody!

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