Trauma Junkie: Memoirs of an Emergency Flight Nurseby Janice Hudson
"Trauma Junkie gives us a view over the flight nurse's shoulder from liftoff until the patient is delivered to the hospital and the agonizing minutes in between. These fascinating true stories are impossible to put down." -- James M. Betts, MD, Chief of Department of Surgery and Director of Trauma Services, Children's Hospital, Oakland/i>/b>/p>
"Trauma Junkie gives us a view over the flight nurse's shoulder from liftoff until the patient is delivered to the hospital and the agonizing minutes in between. These fascinating true stories are impossible to put down." -- James M. Betts, MD, Chief of Department of Surgery and Director of Trauma Services, Children's Hospital, Oakland
"An exciting portrayal of emergency nursing." -- Library Journal
"Fast-paced nonfiction that reads like an adventure story." -- School Library Journal
In Trauma Junkie, readers accompany veteran flight nurse Janice Hudson as she races in response to emergency calls in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her workplace is a cramped California Shock Trauma Air Rescue (CALSTAR) helicopter in which medical personnel try to fix the human carnage wrought by shootings, accidents and natural disasters.
In this new and expanded edition, Hudson updates readers on how she and her colleagues have fared since moving on to different medical roles -- including her own battle with multiple sclerosis, which ultimately forced her to give up the job she loved.
The new Trauma Junkie also contains several previously unpublished stories, including a new addition to the lineup of "stupid human tricks" Hudson witnessed and an all-new chapter describing a call involving the most heartbreaking of patients: a child who didn't make it.
Hudson is a natural storyteller who conveys the excitement of her days with calstar -- heroic rescues, tragic deaths and the hilarious incidents that made the tension bearable -- and the deep commitment of her team to keep patients alive in the most perilous situations.
For information on California Shock Trauma Air Rescue Ambulances Services please visit www.calstar.org
Oakland Tribune, March 30, 2001
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.
- Firefly Books, Limited
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- Age Range:
- 18 Years
Read an Excerpt
Excerpt taken from Chapter 10: High Drama and Low ComedyAnother 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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Definetly worth the time, especially if you are in the business!
Loved this wish it would have been longer I could have kept reading more stories
As a Bay Area native loved the local flavor of these exciting stories
I'm a Nursing Student and LOVED this book!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!!
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!