Trauma Junkie: Memoirs of an Emergency Flight Nurse

Trauma Junkie: Memoirs of an Emergency Flight Nurse

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by Janice Hudson
     
 

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In Trauma Junkie Readers Accompany veteran flight nurse Janice Hudson as she responds to emergency calls in the San Francisco area. Her workplace-a cramped CALSTAR helicopter zipping over the rugged Bay Area-is where medical personnel try to fix the human carnage wrought by shootings, accidents and natural disasters. For "trauma junkies" like Hudson, there is no

Overview

In Trauma Junkie Readers Accompany veteran flight nurse Janice Hudson as she responds to emergency calls in the San Francisco area. Her workplace-a cramped CALSTAR helicopter zipping over the rugged Bay Area-is where medical personnel try to fix the human carnage wrought by shootings, accidents and natural disasters. For "trauma junkies" like Hudson, there is no better place to be.

Trauma Junkie takes readers along on Hudson's memorable flights, from the heroic rescues to the tragic deaths, as well as the hilarious incidents that made the tension bearable. Hudson is a natural storyteller who conveys the excitement of her days with CALSTAR as well as the deep commitment of her team to keeping patients alive in the most perilous situations.

Since Trauma Junkie was first published to universal praise, both Hudson and CALSTAR have seen major changes. In this new edition, Hudson updates readers on how she and her colleagues have fared since moving on to different roles-including her own battle with multiple sclerosis, which ultimately forced her to give up the job she loved. Also new are several previously unpublished stories, including an addition to the lineup of "stupid human tricks" that Hudson witnessed, and an all-new chapter describing a call involving the most heartbreaking of patients: a child who didn't make it.

Editorial Reviews

Journal of the Emergency Medicine Society
The sights, smells and sounds of responding to an emergency by helicopter come rushing back as Hudson sets the scene.
— Eileen Frazer
Journal of the Emergency Medicine Society - Eileen Frazer
The sights, smells and sounds of responding to an emergency by helicopter come rushing back as Hudson sets the scene in Trauma Junkie. Her descriptive, fast-paced narrative puts the reader at the emergency scene where the most critically injured are treated by highly trained professionals and transported to definitive care in the fastest way possible... Throughout the book, Hudson shares not only her memories, but also her thoughts about life, death and the ability of a "trauma junkie" to deal with the past, present and future.
The sights, smells and sounds of responding to an emergency by helicopter come rushing back as Hudson sets the scene in Trauma Junkie. Her descriptive, fast-paced narrative puts the reader at the emergency scene where the most critically injured are treated by highly trained professionals and transported to definitive care in the fastest way possible... Throughout the book, Hudson shares not only her memories, but also her thoughts about life, death and the ability of a "trauma junkie" to deal with the past, present and future.
Jerold Leblanc
It is this simple, basic human emotion [compassion] which is also Trauma Junkie's greatest strength.
Margaret Allen
Her stories of actual helicopter rescue missions and emergency room work are engrossing ... an exciting portrayal of emergency nursing.
Chatelaine
It's like an episode of ER set high in the sky ... pulse-quickening reality reading.
Gwen Gentry
A fascinating look behind the curtain as it explores the stress-filled business of saving lives.
—Oakland Tribune, March 30, 2001
Sherri Forgash
Not for the weak-hearted! ... the author is a wonderful storyteller.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Devotees of medical adventures will enjoy this exciting and well-written account of the 10 years the author spent as a flight nurse for CALSTAR (California Shock/Trauma Air Rescue), a helicopter ambulance service based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Drawing on a journal she kept to help herself cope with the stress of dealing with so many critically wounded victims, Hudson describes the dramatic rescues she participated in daily. She worked 24-hour shifts with a second nurse and a pilot; crew members worked, ate and slept together and developed strong bonds based on the quick decisions they had to make to save lives and the heartbreak they sometimes shared. Many of the calls were to the sites of automobile accidents where severely injured people had to be stabilized and airlifted to the nearest trauma center. Hudson relates the story of "amazing Jim," who survived against the odds after she and her colleague worked with firefighters for hours to remove him from the wreckage of a tanker trailer. In other cases, death was unavoidable. Hudson and her crew were called to remove a five-year-old girl from a car crash caused by a parent who was driving drunk. After their patient died, the two nurses also struggled unsuccessfully to save the life of the girl's infant brother, who had been thrown from the wreckage. Despite such sad moments, Hudson, who now works as a nurse anesthetist, has fond memories of her former life on the edge, and she shares them vividly with readers. Color photos. (Apr.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
KLIATT
This book should come with a warning label: not for the weak-hearted! The author writes her true story of the exciting, challenging life-and-death situations of her job as a team member on CALSTAR (California Shock/Trauma Air Rescue). She doesn't spare any details when describing the worst, most unimaginable accidents. One particular rescue task involved extricating a man from a truck that was on top of him. Her job races from adventure to adventure—everything from saving small children to being involved in the middle of gang fights. For 10 years Janice reveled in this job, until she decided to return to graduate school to earn a master's degree in nursing. This will appeal to anyone considering the medical profession and to those who choose to experience an adrenaline rush from a book and not the actual harrowing events. As well as being a highly trained professional nurse, the author is a wonderful storyteller. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2001, Firefly, 250p. illus. 23cm., $15.95. Ages 16 to adult. Reviewer: Sherri Forgash Ginsberg; Chapel Hill, NC , July 2001 (Vol. 35, No. 4)
VOYA
CALSTAR is the acronym for California Shock/Trauma Air Rescue, a helicopter ambulance service in the San Francisco Bay area. In 1987, the author, an emergency room nurse, took a position with CALSTAR. At that time, air ambulance service was a new field, and Hudson was eager to participate in its development. After three years on the job, she began to keep a journal of her experiences to cope with the enormous stress inherent in carrying out her duties. This book is Hudson's harrowing diary made public. Chopper nurses are usually the first medical personnel to arrive at the scene of horrific car crashes, gruesome shootings, and calamitous natural disasters such as fires and earthquakes. During Hudson's decade-long tenure as a flight nurse, she saw more than enough blood and mangled bodies to last a lifetime. Particularly affecting in her account were the emergencies involving children. Her words do not hold back in accounting these often-heartbreaking situations, and in fact, a hallmark of the book is her remarkable candor. Patients sadly do not always pull through, but against all odds, many do. Their stories are frankly inspirational. On occasion, incidents actually evoke chuckles from the reader because of their ludicrous circumstances. Overall, this book is a fascinating chronicle of one courageous woman's challenging career in an extremely demanding profession. Its narrative recalls the drama of ER squared. Glossary. Photos. Maps. VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P S A/YA (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult and Young Adult). 2001, Firefly Books, 264p, $24.95, $15.95 Trade pb. Ages 16 to Adult. Reviewer: RandyBrough SOURCE: VOYA, August 2001 (Vol. 24, No. 3)
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Fast-paced nonfiction that reads like an adventure story, with language, print, and content suitable for reluctant readers. Hudson worked for 10 years as a member of the California Shock/Trauma Air Rescue (CALSTAR), a nonprofit emergency rescue service, using helicopters for quick transport of seriously injured patients. The job required strength, bravery, strong medical skills, quick thinking, and the ability to function on little sleep when necessary. The rewards, as she describes them, are incredible. The book consists of a series of vignettes that describe some of her more memorable experiences, from having to share quarters as a new hire with a male nurse to the death of children due to their drunken father's driving. In a balanced and gripping style, Hudson presents readers with an exciting career option and turns them into vicarious trauma junkies.-Carol DeAngelo, Kings Park Library, Burke, VA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Booklist - William Beatty
Hudson ... was advised to keep a journal to alleviate the stress of her work. These lively and personal memoirs are the fortunate fruit of that advice.
Oakland Tribune - Gwen Gentry
A fascinating look behind the curtain as it explores the stress-filled business of saving lives.
Edmonton Sun - Jerold Leblanc
Throughout the numerous examples of pain, suffering and death, Hudson is able to convey the most important single aspect those working in her field must possess — human compassion. It is this simple, basic human emotion which is also Trauma Junkie's greatest strength.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781554076147
Publisher:
Firefly Books, Limited
Publication date:
02/19/2010
Edition description:
Updated and Expanded Edition
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
201,241
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

Read an Excerpt

Excerpt taken from Chapter 10: High Drama and Low Comedy

Another particularly unusual call came on a hot summer day on Mount Diablo, where a man was climbing a formation known as Castle Rock. Our patient had apparently been climbing freehand, with no safety ropes. About halfway up the rock he lost his grip, and tumbled a hundred feet down the face, fracturing his back and both ankles. Because of the remote and inaccessible location, we were first on scene, landing at the top of the rock. We could see him sprawled on the rocks below, surrounded by his climbing companions. Hoisting the trauma bag and packaging gear, we gingerly climbed and slid down to his location. Actually, I bounced down the final ten feet, still clutching the bag and ripping out the seat of my flight suit.

Our patient was awake and writhing in pain. We knew there was no way to haul him back up the way we came without rappelling gear. So we began to cast about for other ways of getting this man off the cliff face as we stabilized and packaged him. The hot sun was radiating off the rocks, and I began to worry about heat stroke — both in the patient and ourselves.

At that point, a winded and red-faced ranger appeared from below as we were placing our patient on the backboard and strapping him in. "You guys aren't going to get him down the way I came," he panted as he reached us. "It's a sheer drop down." We considered our predicament for a few minutes, and then the ranger came up with a plan. "I guess we need to call the Coast Guard helicopter. They have hoisting capabilities."

As it turned out, the Coast Guard was nearby conducting training exercises, and arrived overhead within ten minutes. It was their massive Sikorsky, and we could hear it approaching from miles away. As this enormous beast hovered overhead, the downwash from its five huge rotor blades was staggering, pushing us to our knees as we covered the patient's face as best we could. The hoist swung out, and the rescue medic was lowered down with a wire Stokes basket, his Neoprene wet suit looking a bit out of place in the hundred-degree heat. As he came down, we helped him unstrap the Stokes, which we would used to transport the patient.

"Unhook that line!" he bellowed, pointing to the extra safety line attached to the hoist. I scrambled over, buffeted by the rotor wash, and unhooked the line. "What happened?" he yelled in my ear.

"He fell about a hundred feet off the rock face, landing on his feet, then his back," I screamed back. "His blood pressure is OK, but he's got bad skin signs and he's in a lot of pain."

"OK, let's get him into the Stokes and secured." Together we lifted the backboard and strapped him into the basket. Securing the hoist line and double-checking it, the medic gave an OK sign to the man peering out of the helicopter above us. Slowly our patient began his ascent, sometimes swinging around in a circle. I could only imagine what he must be thinking.

The medic turned to my partner and me. "Which one of you is the primary nurse?"

"I am," I said. "Why?"

The medic looked up and made another motion to the man in helicopter. A device that looked like a horse collar appeared at the door and was lowered down to us. "OK," he yelled. "Just put your arms through here and cross them. Remember to keep your arms crossed on the way up, or you'll fall out."

I was stunned. Did this guy think I was actually going to allow myself get hoisted a hundred feet into thin air, hanging onto that flimsy contraption? Was he nuts? But it was too late. He was already pulling the collar over my head, and the next thing I knew my feet were dangling off the ground. I was pulled up at what seemed like a very rapid rate, leaving me dangling over the sharp rocks below. "Don't look down, don't look down," I whispered to myself, shutting my eyes tightly and gripping the collar for dear life.

The hoist stopped abruptly, and as I opened my eyes, I was just below the hovering helicopter. The winds were whipping me from side to side. "Oh my God, the hoist is stuck," I thought. "And if my arms come uncrossed I will die." A moment of panic ensued, and I took several deep breaths to pull myself together. Then the hoist started moving again slowly, and soon my head was level with the open helicopter door. Two men grabbed my shoulders and hauled me in, explaining that the short stop was to change gears to slow the hoisting mechanism. I felt like a fish being hauled onto a pier, but was deeply grateful to be on a firm surface. They placed a headset on me, and the pilot asked me where we were going.

I was still pretty rattled, but managed to key up the mike. "Uh, to John Muir. It's that hospital over to your right about ten miles." I was secured in my seat next to the patient as the helicopter veered away from the mountain and headed off. Because of the speed of the Coast Guard aircraft, our flight time was only about three minutes, which gave me just enough time to start an IV and grab a blood pressure, no easy feat because my hands were still shaking badly. Our dispatch had called ahead to let John Muir know we were coming, but they knew that we were bringing a rock climber who had fallen. As we brought him into the trauma room and I gave report, I sank down in a chair and muttered to myself, "Never, never again."

Meet the Author

Janice Hudson was an emergency flight nurse from 1987 to 1997. She lives in San Mateo, California, with her husband, Mark, who is also a registered nurse.

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Trauma Junkie: Memoirs of an Emergency Flight Nurse 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Definetly worth the time, especially if you are in the business!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this wish it would have been longer I could have kept reading more stories
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a Bay Area native loved the local flavor of these exciting stories
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm a Nursing Student and LOVED this book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Trauma Junkie was an over all fantastic novel. Its an encouraging story that pwople can relate too. Janice is a real person with honest recations to the fast paced high drama world around her. She is honest and real and her writing style is compelling.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was a very easy read, expect 1 to 2 days for the read through. Anybody can enjoy this book, however for those of us fortunate to Circle the Carnage above and give wings to hope, you will snicker at some of the subtle inside jokes. I still pick it up to bring me a laugh to the job we do. Thanks for having the courage to place words on paper.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was absolutley excellent. As an aspiring flight nurse, I was extremely surprised to see this book on the shelf. I didn't even know it existed, and I was surprised to see that this flight nurse's stories are from her years of working on a helicopter based out of my hometown! Aside from the obvious connection I felt with the author, this book was beyond my wildest expectations. I laughed out loud at some points, and was holding back tears at others. I think that this is a very realistic portrayal of the highs and lows of flight nursing, starting with the author's 'screw ups' on her first flight, and covering everything from tragic outcomes to hilarious happenings. I HIGHLY recommend it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
A fairly good read. Although written by a nurse, it exceeds the limited expectations of a nurse's abilities and does paint a heart-racing image of her daily duties. Although she explains most of the medical terms in the book, it would require some basic understanding of some medical equipment, everyday injuries, and other such things. I recommend this book for a good, fast read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
when I received this amazing book for christmas one year, I had read it from cover to cover in the span of 4 hours. the way that Janice Hudson writes is extrememly exciting, and keeps you turning the pages. way to go!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was incredible from start to finish. I haven't read a book so fast since...well, I don't know when. If you like trauma and emergency nursing, like I do, you'll love this book. Great gift for nurse 'junkie' in your life!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have access to the advance proof, and what a great read! Moves fast, funny and touching at the same time. I couldn't put it down. get this book!