Post Traumatic Stress affects First Responder’s, Patient’s and our Families .. Equally
PTSD is not a disorder, rather the stress is a natural emotional response to any life threatening event due to an over whelming amount of energy trapped in our nervous system.
I strongly suggest we begin to look at what’s right about this stress, understand the emotional impact and have the tools to manage it.
To change from our original plan ( 2nd leg 260 metres) lake expedition to preparing for a 7 – 10 day off grid expedition and setting up a new base camp just below the tree line ( 2000 metres ) in the upper alpine deep into the backcountry mountains with no reception, over 20 kms away from any human contact or emergency support takes 2 very experienced wilderness survivalist’s to adapt quickly, safely and head out within a moments notice.
Great work Jill, your ability to hunker down, dig in deep and conquer so quickly amazing me more and more each day we tackle all of the obstacles that have come on our path these past few weeks already , today, your efforts are even more impressive than ever.
You have a very special gift to share with the world , lets get er done !
There is really nothing in this world that makes me feel more free, alive, grounded and reconnected to this earth and myself than to be packing up and headed out high up into the backcountry mountains.
There is really nothing in this world that makes me feel more enslaved, inhuman and disconnected from myself than having to open a computer, swipe my master and log into emails, social media etc. knowing that the next time I look up, the entire day will be gone and by the time I finish meditation that evening, I will not remember one single click, thought or conversation i’ve had that day let alone anything i’ve done on it over the past few years other than perhaps “entertain the people”, through a dimension to which only holds billions of “thoughts” .
That could be a really good thing, trouble is , our thinking rarely results in any sort of real human actions.
Real is what I see, taste, feel, not what I click, swipe and delete.
These past 5 days it has sucked my soul and my time on this earth just to write a blog. The amount of work that it takes to digitize these writings from paper ( mainly cause I can barely read my own scribbly writing ) to the keyboard, and then to a website I feel its not a valuable use of my knowledge, lived experience, wisdom that must be shared, tools that need to be learned , human to human contact that we must not let slip away from us.
My only rational explanation is that maybe 100’s of centuries from now, these writings may give the future species a mere glimpse into the mind of a human at this stage in our evolution.
Although I feel ( quite often ) that our real world work today is 100 years to late, when in reality we are right on time.
Social and physical distancing ? We’re fucked !
The mathematical equation to this situation in the long term equals – demise and complete collapse of our human civilization. Which if I may add respectfully without all of my reasons, this is very much ok with me.
Not only is it the way it’s meant to be, but from my experience with many humans , institutions, streets, departments, etc. the only one thing that will save humanity is a good flush of the toilet and a fresh bowl of water to rise for us to fill full of shit again over time, just as we have done for 1000’s of years.
Finally after days of trying to live in 2 totally separate worlds, Jill and I are off on our real world expedition to a place here where nothing , not one single thing has changed since the beginning of time.
This is the greatest feeling in my life to just walk away from the grasp of the devils claws and just put both feet on the ground allowing my eyes to take in all of natures beauti, smell the fresh mountain air,
the cool crispness on my skin from the snow that surrounds us, the precious purples and blues from the wildflowers, while these trees see, feel and whisper to us .. our thoughts are free.
We arrived and set up our 2nd Base Camp, each breath, each step, each shovel full of snow and ice will be remembered for ever.
We found a really great spot to set up Camp, deep in the snow surrounded by perfect alpine trees as straight as they grow.
The look small, so soft to the touch while yet they are the toughest and the last to touch the sky above.
To the human eye they look maybe 10 years of age, but being this high up they are probably 100’s of years old.
Magnificent to have survived the coldest and harshest of elements, side by side together they rise.
We dig in deep while Jill found us some soft branches for us to sit on, making sure only to take 1 maybe 2 from each while thanking with every cut.
I had wondered off with my axe in hand returning with a nice 20 foot tree over my shoulder soon to realize just how much sticky pitch had covered my hands, I chuckled to myself and just started de-limbing branches for an evening fire – dam it’s cold up here.
I could hear Jill’s hatchet hard at work while we continued to enjoy being in our own 2 worlds doing what we love, staying present in the moment, all thoughts calmed to a snails pace while the sun set the sky colours you could taste .. “ Ah FUCK”, came from the forest just behind me.
I had paused for a moment, Jills axe had stopped , perhaps she just slipped or .. I dunno ?
With out any panic in her voice, she calmly says, “I cut my finger’, with a good hard “ FuCK behind it.
Come on out, let’s take a look.
“Its bad”, she replied
I hacked my axe into the tree I was cutting and immediately walked towards her, “Like cut your finger off bad, or needs stitches bad”? I asked.
I could barely see her through the thick brush, “ it’s bleeding really bad”.
Ok, grab a handful of snow, put pressure around it now, and get that hand above your head and come on out let’s take a look at it.
By the sense of of calm and tone in Jills voice I concluded that it was more than likely just a deep cut and we’d have her patched up and boiling water for dinner within the hour.
I asked her to sit down and look away while I removed the massive clump of bloody snow she’d been holding for maybe only 3 minutes .. just breathe everything is going to be ok.
As I gently removed the snow, most of it just crumbled away from being soaked with so much warm blood and to my surprise the her finger flowed like hot lava out from a erupting volcano.
I could barely see how deep to what I originally thought was just a cut, now looked at though there was no possible way the finger tip was even attached still.
As she held her hand above her head I walked around into her vision, made direct eye contact and said, “do not look”, its going to be ok, and leaped about 10 feet, kicked off the sun exposed snow that was slightly sprinkled with every green needles, scooped up 2 massive fresh hand full of snow.
As gently as I could placed the somewhat icy , fluffy snow on either side of the injury and had to give it good enough squeeze and crush the snow around it to keep it cold, in place, stable and absorb the bleed until I could get to the tent to grab my first aid VSSL.
Ahhh FUCK, she yelped as I gave it a “snug -as – a- bug – in – a – rug -tug, I said i’m sorry but your going to have to keep hold of the snow above your head as I looked her in the eyes and pretty much spelled it out with a very stern order with a smile, DO – NOT- MOVE – THAT – FUCKING – HAND, do you understand ?
She nodded with concern as I said it again all while my mind was thinking and hoping that the first aid kit had what I needed and at the same time thinking “ blood – bears – food is in bags, transport to ambulance – 45 mins – amputate – stop bleed – not a surgeon – lillooett – 2 hrs drive – level of pain – vitals – loss of finger – – stop bleed – truck is 15 minutes walk through deep ice and snow – pack up now – get moving – now.
All with in 2 blinks of an eye I immediately got up and walked with some skip in my step to the tent and at the same time thinking “ blood – bears – food is in bags, transport to ambulance – 45 mins – amputate – stop bleed – not a surgeon – Lillooett – 2 hrs drive – level of pain – vitals – loss of finger – – stop bleed – truck is 15 minutes walk through deep snow and ice – pack up now – get moving .
It’s always important to walk calm in any emergency, I found myself running through the the entire scenario from now until we get to a higher level of care and that could still be another 3-4 hours so I admit I broke the rule and have come to terms with the fact that I picked up my pace and leaped about 10 massive steps to the tent to get the first aid kit as soon as possible.
This was my only chance to make up time as efficiently as possible, we still have to stabilize, package, manage this bleed and endure the long and bumpy ride down 17 – 20 switch backs from over 4200 ft down a forest service road at a grouelling pace of 8-15 kms per hour.
There is no room for error with 1000 foot cliff drops on either side of us, sun is fading and no humans for many miles.
VSSL in hand I asked Jill if she knew approximately what time of day it was, it has been many years since I responded to a call , but I do remember that this question would answer many things about my patients LOC’s and ABC’s. ( Level of Consciousness / Airway / Breathing / Circulation )
At this point, Jill is not my Friend, she’s now my patient.
As my patient sat slumped I walked up and introduced myself jokingly, “Hey my name is Terrance, i’m with the Blackcomb Ski Patrol , I’m here to help you.
As I twisted to compass off the top of my trusty First Aid VSSL Kit, I had hoped to find a tensor, some gauze pads and some medical tape.
Jill says, there is no way a band aid is going to help, It’s really bad.
Everything is going to be ok, it’s not that bad.
“An artery is bad, this isn’t that bad”, I said.
I know my VSSL Kit definitely has a few butterflies I could slap on the finger to hold it together, wrap it with gauze and go.
To my disappointment and bad judgement call, the package I opened first was not a butterfly stitches, rather it was the thermometer – dumbass.
I scanned the kit quickly and it soon dawned on me when I did open the package of butterfly stitches that, wait a sec, in order to even apply them, I needed to stop this bleed, clean it , package it and then go.
Sorry but there is no way we have that kind of time to sit around waiting for this bleed to stop .. or not ?
The best and most realistic option at this point was to just keep the cold snowball wrapped around it, keep it cold, alleviate the hand and I quickly grabbed a long wool sock and used it as a tensor around the snowball.
I asked Jill, take a deep breath as I applied the sock and would have to give it a gentle but snug enough squeeze to try and lock the snow around the finger firmly.
Alright listen, I need to start walking slowly to the jeep, keep your hand up above your head, i’ll grab what we need and we’re going to get to the ambulance station in Seton ok ?
She quietly rose to her feet and asked for her gloves and a jacket.
You don’t need your gloves — we need to get moving.
Umm, the hand holding the snow is getting very cold she said .
Duhhh . right . on it – one sec.
If it were anybody other than Jill I would have walked with her, but she’s certainly the type of girl that if she were alone, i’m pretty sure she would have just chewed off the hanging nub, spit it into her pocket, make herself a coffee before driving down the mountain on her own.
My eyes scanned the camp site as quick as a eagle searching for a mouse.
No fire, socks and gloves hanging in the tree, food – grab food and now with one pack over my shoulder I quickly stuffed the bear bag into a dry bag, grabbed a warm sweater and scanned through my clothing bag for something clean to wrap this injury in.
1 super dirty wife beater – nope
1 Kal Tire long sleeve thats 3 times as dirty – nope
1 rain jacket – nope
1 outter shell – nope
3 more pairs of dirty socks – nope .. underwear .. uhh No.
Voila , ah ha . perfect my Surrey Firefighters IAFF 1271 shirt was the only clean shirt I had , well.. cleaner than everything else.
Tents zipped, camp secure – Go ( 1:53 seconds )
There’s only one speed to go now through the nearly knee deep snow drifts with this much weight on my back and that’s EFFIN GO TIME BUDDY.
With each step in the soft snow seemed like I was sinking deeper and deeper into quick sand, set your pace, breathe
Lucky for we train everyday for the full 5 rounds, cause this like being right slap down in the middle of the cage round 2 , breathe, step sink – breathe – step – sink – for what felt like 10 km later I had arrived and Jill was already there leaning on the jeep, arm held high and the only thing I wondered was where she parked the magic carpet or where she hid the cape, regardless she made it safe.
I swiped the Leather man open and began with 2 quick cuts into the shirt, ok look away and let’s stabilize that thing for the ride out.
Like a 7-11 slurpee on a hot day the snow she was holding crumbled away. I folded the shredded shirt around just enough to absorb a deadly bleed for the long ride out. No, this was not a deadly bleed, but I packaged it up that way.
One think wrap around the injury to absorb the blood and then a nice double wrap around the good finger using it as a somewhat stable splint, take a deep breath and tied er off tight – very.
A thought crossed my mind from past experience as a EMR, “life over limb” is how tight I locked that thing in place.
The most gruelling part of this ride out was the road were on. An extremely dangerous, narrow single lane access road for BC Hydro, the countless switch backs and wash boards all the way out was tough to crawl at a 10 – 15 kms per hour pace when our friend is in pain topped with 1000 foot cliffs and 5 more mountain ranges to go.
As we inched out way down to the top of Mission Mountain — yes if that makes sense .. down to the top of would give you a better idea how high up and very off grid we were with the sun fading fast.
We had a very important decision to make when we reached the top of Mission – do we take a left and drive 1 hour back to Seton Portage, try and page the on call paramedics ?
Or do we just give er 2- 3 hours drive all the way to Lilloeet ?
Bite the bullet, take a right and hope that this tourniquet will hold up and just get to the highest level of care at the hospital ?
Well, one way or the other, even if we did go left to seton, all the paramedics would be able to do is possibly freeze it, stabilize it and she’d have to go for the drive to hospital anyhow so . we made a right and drove all the way to the hospital.
This wasn’t a deadly bleed but my concern was with each bump we hit would bounce and jepardize the finger from ever being used again, I couldn’t remember if there was a rule of “thumb”, for when a limb is 3/4 way off what to do exactly – so I had to just hope for the best and get my Friend, my patient to the highest level of care and do it now.
When we pulled into the hospital , Jill had courageously sucked up al the pain, the pot holes, wash boards and still had her hand elevated above her head and then my heart sank.
Not but only one single car in the parking lot with a Washington plate. Surely they are closed and who knows whats really going on here especially seeings how last we heard the world was locked down due to some sorta COVID virus of some sort.
I jumped outta my truck while trying to avoid all the tumble weed rolling by, all the lights seemed to be off but I buzzed the buzzer anyhow as my mind scrambled to think of what city to go to next ?
Quick answer — Kamloops , and that’s another 3 hours away from here.
With a long deep exhale, I fogged up the glass with both my hands on the window looking in, consciously begging my mind for someone to please answer .
I buzzed again and then , an Angels voice “how can we help you”?
I whispered into the voice box so Jill couldn’t hear me and said “my chick cut her finger off”.
Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz, the doors opened immediately.
I will say this , Thank the good lord above for our Emergency Services, doctors and all medical staff who are always standing by the front and back lines.
There really is no better feeling in the world than to be in an emergency situation, desperately being in need of help and within in 3 seconds of pushing a button, there is a warm smile and a team of professionals who are there to greet you , welcome you , and take care of you immediately.
The sense of relief that and gratitude that comes over the entire human spirit especially at a time like this, is above and beyond words.
Thank you Lilloeet Medical team for answering the call.
Thank you for taking care of my Friend, my wingman and our Team Mate .
Be sure, when this expedition is over, we will be back to see you , you have “our word”.
I was explaining to Jill on the way to the hospital, the effects this accident has on her nervous system, my nervous system right down to the nurses and doctors who all play a big role in this scenario.
After a 1 hour mouth full, to which Jill has already heard at least 3 times a day for almost a year now explaining in biological terms of the human body, our brain and entire nervous system I find it most difficult to try and explain in words.
Well, briefly that is.
If humans were able to set aside what we’ve been told, read, or watch after many centuries of having an un necessary amount of smoke blown into our anal cavities the answers are all as plan as day and so much more easily understood than anyone is teaching us.
I mean, come on now, I barley have a Gr8 education and take 3 hours a day going back and forth to google just to spell check 3/4 of my words. If I can understand it , then we all can most certainly understand it, question is “what are we going to do about it”?
Simply put .. 1 + 1 + 1 – 2 = 1 . Its really that simple, not to worry we will get through this together.
Hope ya smiled cause life’s way to short to be too serious.
Believe in the process my friends .. it’s a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll.
Your Friend, Our Voice
Terrance J. Kosikar