Paramedic 189's Final Report

Paramedic 189's Final Report

by Mr Rodney L Mortensen


Publisher CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Published in Biographies & Memoirs/Memoirs, Biographies & Memoirs, Nonfiction

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Book Description

Have you ever seen a Fire Engine racing down the street, lights blazing, siren wailing and air horn blasting? Have you ever wondered where they were going, and what emergency could be so serious that it requires this kind of response? I was lucky enough to spend 30 years racing down the streets in a Fire Engine, responding emergencies of all kinds. These stories are some of my unique memories about where the Fire Engines are going in such a hurry.

Sample Chapter

First Code Arrest

I had been a firefighter for around 6 months or so. By this time I had been through our fire academy, and EMT training. I had been on a number of interesting calls, and several fires. I was starting to feel like I was learning to be a firefighter. I had friends and things were getting better. I was still on probation, so there was still plenty of hazing, but my skin was getting thicker. During this same time, Tempe Fire Department (TFD) had sent its first group of students to Paramedic training. I really wanted to go, but of course I was too new, still on probation, and needed much more experience first. My time would come.

The decision for Tempe Fire Department to finally enter the Advanced Medical Treatment field did not come easily. There was resistance from all sides. The Fire Chief, the City council, (except for one) and most of the senior firefighters had no interest in expanding the role of the Fire Department. It was mostly fear of how much it would cost, that affected the Chief and City council. The older very experienced and capable firefighters, I think were in some ways threatened by this new role. They loved fighting fire, but reluctantly responded on medical calls. It was the newer guys, like me, and mostly the public that demanded change. A very popular TV show had been on for a few years, about paramedics in California. “Emergency”, a show portraying two paramedics from Los Angles County Fire Department ran from 1972-1979 Naturally people everywhere assumed all firemen were paramedics, and the pressure was on.

The first group of 6 students from Tempe Fire was sent for training after much debate at the City Council, and a brave few stepped forward to go. The paramedic system in Arizona was very new, the training intense, and so far less than a hundred certified paramedics existed in the state. Three of our original group had just passed their “Oral Boards” and were now certified as Paramedics. For the first time, an ALS (Advanced Life Support) rescue was in Tempe.

At this time I was working at Station 2, Engine 2.

It was sometime mid morning, when the power to the station blacked out. The emergency generators kicked in, and almost immediately the tones sounded, dispatching us to a call. “Possible Electrocution”. The call address was only about 100 yards up the street from the station. It was a very fast response, E2, and L2 responded. (The power going out was directly related to the call we were responding to.)

When we arrived on scene, we found an electric company truck with a “scissor lift”. Its platform was about 20 ft in the air. One of the company workers told us, that the man on the platform had grabbed a “hot” wire, and he was unconscious. My captain told them to get the lift down, but they explained to us, that it had been jammed in place when their friend fell back. They couldn’t move it.

Gary our engineer, a very good EMT and I climbed up the sides of the lift. When we got to the top, we were confronted by a badly burned man, and my first “code”. (Code is a term that means the patient is not breathing and does not have a pulse) I checked for breathing, no breathing. Gary checked for a pulse, no pulse. Gary ordered me to start CPR, so I started mouth to mouth, while he started chest compressions. The man was burned, had charred hair, a charred mustache, and burns on his face. The electricity had blown out all of his zippers, and the end of one of his boots. His large toe had a gaping hole as if it had exploded. (This was the first time I had given mouth to mouth to a real person, and to this day I remember the charred smell and taste.)

The Paramedics finally arrived. I didn’t know it at the time, but this was their first code in the field too. We were still 20 ft in the air, the platform was small, and became very crowded as they climbed up. Several boxes of medical equipment were handed up and for the first time in Tempe, Advanced Life Support was performed.

The medics intubated (inserted a tube into the lungs) the patient to help breathing, and I moved to give chest compressions. One of the medics was starting an IV. He hit the vein, and then dropped the needle on the floor of the platform. IV needles come in two pieces, a sharp needle, and a plastic catheter, once the catheter is inserted the needle is removed. Somehow that needle ended up in my knee. I was doing compressions, and calmly asked if someone could pull the needle out of my knee. (Back then the fears of disease did not exist, but if history books were kept on such things, I had the first “ needle stick” injury on Tempe Fire Department.)

After what seemed like a very long time, the ladder truck stretched a ladder up to us, and with great effort we finally were able to move this 200 lb. man to the ground, and transport him by ambulance to the hospital. Unfortunately his injuries were too severe, and he was pronounced dead soon after arrival.

The Fire Chief, who was also on the scene, ordered my Captain to take me to the hospital to have the “needle stick” in my knee treated. Like I said, no one was worried about contagious diseases at this time, so I only went because I was ordered to. (It wasn’t for another 10 years that paramedics even though about wearing protective gloves, and even longer until other forms of protective clothing were introduced

Later that night, we were watching the news on TV. The coverage was about how the man had touched a 10,000 volt line, his name and all of the terrible details of his death. As the story was being reported, the film on TV, showed a close up of me doing chest compressions. My first time, on the news!

My captain, commented on how I had represented the department well, my CPR compressions were perfect, (my words) the look on my face was that of someone very concerned but compassionate.

We had all done a good job! It was complicated working high up on that platform, for the first time ever, supporting our new Paramedics, moving a very heavy person down the ladder and still providing care. Everyone had done well, and no matter how often you see someone injured like this, it never gets routine.

Of course, this is the Fire Department, and traditions at the time existed no matter how bad the calls were. My Captain informed me, “You get on the news, you buy ice cream”. We loaded up once again on the Engine, and found the nearest market. I can say for sure, this was not the last time I bought ice cream.


Excerpted from "Paramedic 189's Final Report" by Mr Rodney L Mortensen. Copyright © 2016 by Mr Rodney L Mortensen. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Author Profile

Mr Rodney L Mortensen

Mr Rodney L Mortensen

After his service in the U.S. Navy aboard the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk in Viet Nam, Rodney Mortensen, spent 3 years coaching a swim team and attending classes at Arizona State University. After a series of fateful events, Rod's course changed and he spent 30 and 1/2 years working the best job any man could hope for. During these years, he was a Certified Paramedic 28 years and a Fire Captain for 20. After retirement in 2006, Rod traveled and has had many exciting SCUBA diving experiences. He stays active and has completed 4 Triathlons. Also since retirement Rod has found a new passion in writing. He has many stories to tell.

View full Profile of Mr Rodney L Mortensen

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