Coincidence

1610 hours. Thinking of going home, not much happening in work, tired from on call the nght before. And then I get accosted by the transport manager on the way out the door. Accosted is a bad term, politely requested to do a transfer to Auckland is a better way to put it.

My first question is can we take the helicopter. Helis fly much slower than fixed wing air craft do, but the advantage of helis is that you can land anywhere and therefore avoid all the tedious transfers to and from airports. They have a tendency to just land on the roof which is as close between two points that you can really get.

But no, the helicopter has just gone out on a job. So at 1630 I’m in a taxi-van on the way to the airport. The van with enough equipment to set up and run a mini ICU in the sky. The idea is to bring everything and use none of it. The chances of needing to do an emergency cric at 10000 ft is spectacularly unlikely. Though you’d feel awful stupid if you needed to and you didn’t have one.

With me is C. One of the ICU nurses who also does the flight team work. In jump suit and sunnies with pockets stuffed with enough bits and bobs to keep him going for weeks. The nurse with me performed a flight check of the doors and all the seat belts before we took off. Though I’m pretty sure that that’s the pilots job, not his.

So the transfer itself then. Some 14 year old kid is jumping off a wharf with his mates. The kid jumps two meters to the left of the normal spot and goes head first into a sand bar, putting his neck in all sorts of nasty positions that you normally only see in a rugby scrum.

So he breaks his neck, fracturing one of his cervical vertebrae into three pieces, spectacularly avoiding cutting through his spinal cord. So he’s OK. As long as he doesn’t sneeze. Which isn’t exactly a long term solution so I get to fly him to the kiddies hospital in Auckland where some orthopod will stcik bits of metal in his neck to fix him.

Unfortunately the kid is in Gisborne about an hours flight north up the coast. It’s a small district hospital and we do a lot of their transfers.

When I get there I meet a guy who knows people I know from back home. I travel 15000 miles and go to a hospital out on the east coast and of all the people I meet, I meet a guy who knows a doc I know from a small town in the tail end of Ireland (Portadown really is more of the tail end, lets be honest. I still love it.)

Coincidence amazes me.

So strapped up in a collar and bean bag (a moulded plastic mattress that stops him moving) we head for Auckland. On a glorious day, over the hills (and far away) and Rotorua with Ruapehu in the background, the sun setting as we cross Tauraunga. It amazes me that they pay me for this type of thing.

Arriving in Auckland childrens hospital we’re met with ignorance and contempt for daring to bring a patient to a hospital. I was originally planning to leave him at the top of road and give the trolley a push, but i have this darn conscience and sense of duty thing.

By this stage it’s 10 at night and I’m a tad peckish. The ambulance taking us back to the airport is kind enough to stop at Mcdonalds on the way back. The flight nurse is on some kind of cleansing diet that I don’t enquire into. Two big macs, some fries and a coke later we’re still not at the airport and ask if we can stop at the airport Mcdonalds to fill up again. Oh well, better than nothing.

I try to read a biography of Jonathan Edwards on the plane but I fall asleep before we’re over Hamilton, and wake to the sound of rain on the windows and the lights of Napier at around half midnight.

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January 2007
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