Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The last time I tried to save a life.

It was a dark night in Texas, I can’t remember what day it was but I do remember it well.

The time was shortly after 11pm and I was out driving my unit commander around as we were heading over to one of the ammo points the ammo platoon had set up for training when a emergency call came over the radio say an accident had happen.

We rushed to the scene and we were the first to arrive, being that I was an EMT I left the commander to radio back to Fort Hood to get a Medivac out to the scene. There I saw a mentor, friend, and brand new father laying behind the SPLL half under it. His leg tied up in the track and mark up his chest where the 26 ton vehicle ran up onto his body.

His name was Sgt. Sanchez.

There were no medic and I started to work on him, I check for responsiveness, he was half coherent still, I examined his body, he was looking blood internally and his rib cage was crushed. I called for permission to start for an IV from the Unit PA (Physician’s Assistant). I tried talking to him some more when the Medics arrived. They panicked and froze up. They had never seen a real life trauma situation. I took charge and had them open up their medical packs and told them what I needed and what they could do and started to get others to check on his caught leg.

I stabilized his upper body the best I could but with the way he was hurt I only managed to get a neck brace on by the time the PA arrived. That was difficult to do as his jaw was severely fractured from hitting the back of the SPLL. We tried to start IVs on him and I was the only one that could get one going, but it was no use as I was on his most severe side and all I could get was blood back tracking into the IV line. The PA eventually was able to get on into his other arm. Just then he fully lost consciousness and began to have blood coming out of his mouth. The PA started to use the portable suction on him to keep his airway clear. We decided to try and tube him but there was too much blood and not enough light available to do it.

After that it was reported that the only way to free his leg was to disassemble the track of the SPLL. Everyone chipped in to do it as quickly as possible while the PA and I kept him stable. There was still no Medivac on scene yet. As they worked I looked at him and realized my hands were shaking badly. All I could think of was that I’ve never shaken this bad during a medical call and that I needed to get a grip and keep him alive. I still continued to monitor him. We were not keeping track of vitals as he was being moved around too much due to the work being done to free his leg. It was impossible because the way a SPLL track comes apart you have to watch the tension on it and it takes about 4 people to do it.

Once it was apart and we freed his leg I assessed the damage to it. Luckily the tibia was not fractured and only the calf muscle was damage. I cleaned and bandaged the wound quickly and splinted his leg so it would be stable for the Medivac. At this time the Medivac was here and the brought over a back board to put him on. He was rushed to the chopper and I ran back to my HMMV and race to the on post hospital with my unit commander. We got there only a few minutes after the Medivac and my commander went inside. I staid outside shaking and smoking what I think was a whole pack of cigs.

He did not survive. Sgt. Sanchez passed away at 1:30am. He did not survive the tip to the hospital.

That was not the worse of it though. The worse was when at the end of the funeral when the unit First Sergeant does roll call of the unit. When his name was called and there was no answer I just about lost it. It was the most difficult day to get through in my life because after that I met his wife. She was still pregnant and close to giving birth. I just felt horrible and guilty that I could not save him.

This is something I haven’t thought about in 7 years but as of late it’s something that I can’t stop thinking of. As a few of you know I have been diagnosed with PTSD and this is one of the symptoms, to relive flash backs over and over again.

The reason I’m sharing is that if I write or type things like this out it helps to clear it out of my mind for a while. Not many people know this side of me as it’s very personal but I just felt the need to open up a bit and share.

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