Hyphema: Bleeding in the eye caused by trauma…
Matt Garratti, a paramedic from New York, moves his wife and son to North Carolina to work at his dream job as a flight medic. Pakistani born Sudah, his wife, receives frosty stares and insensitive comments from their new neighbors.
Before long, Matt wonders if he is pursuing his dream or bringing his family into a nightmare from which they may never wake.
Growing up I always knew that I wanted to be “That Guy”, the one people could depend on to be there when they needed someone.
After 9/11 everyone was all about the everyday heroes and all of the first responders… it was the big push to volunteer and to serve your communities. I admit, I was strongly influenced by all of that and I joined a local vollie EMS squad. I was too young for the senior corps so I started out in the youth squad. I really recommend that for teenagers, that’s such an uncertain time but being a vital part of your community is the best way to know you belong.
After I joined the senior corps I got my emergency medical technician certification. In New York State where I grew up EMT’s are really trained to d a lot to save a life; they’re basic life support providers and an ambulance is really a portable emergency room. After I did that for a while I became a paramedic; paramedics can do everything an EMT does plus they can do IV therapy, intubate, administer other drugs and some other procedures. A paramedic is the highest trained emergency medical professional outside of the normal medical institution.
I rode with a paramedic partner for a few years, her name is Julie. When you’re riding a bus you really get close with your crew – you depend on each other and are there to support, help and share. What goes on in the back of the bus gets intense.
A little more than a year ago, Julie married Jake and I married Sudah, and some other things happened to make some changes in our lives. That was when I decided to pursue something I’ve always wanted to do, become a flight medic. I took training and was on a waiting list for an EMS chopper service, but the economy had other plans and the place I hoped to work at had to close. Well, I had a wife and a baby so I went looking for another position and I found an opening in North Carolina.
We moved here, it’s a great area to raise a family. Sudah is studying to be a naturalized citizen, she was born in Pakistan, and there is a college nearby to help her with her studies. The crews at the agency are pretty terrific, great people to work with. Sometimes I still work ground transportation but most of the time I’m in the air.
I love my job.
Matt was looking down over the dark water as they were being buffeted by the winds.
“It’s always choppy over here,” shouted Tony, the pilot. “You get used to it after a while.”
They had just finished their pre-flight check when they got banged out on an emergency transport job. The patient, a diabetic male in his forties, was in distress after being pinned under a car in a freakish accident. The bulk of the damage was centered on his back after the car fell off of its jack. His urine was filled with blood and he needed immediate transport to a level one trauma center.
North Carolina’s Outer Banks had a reputation for beauty and serenity. Several old fishing villages dotted the barrier islands along with spacious homes and bed and breakfasts. Matt was thinking of taking Sudah and Aden there for a weekend jaunt soon.
Luckily the area was served by a state of the art hospital center so any injured or sick could be treated there without the hour-and-a-half commute a car would need. With a serious trauma, patients could at least be stabilized, and air transportation used to one of the trauma centers inland.
“Have you ever been out here before Matt?” Frank was a thirty three year old critical care flight nurse who had grown up in the area.
“Nope. First time.” Matt had not ventured far from New York where he grew up until he decided to move his family to North Carolina after a job offer from NC Air EMS.
The LZ was lit up on the grounds of the hospital and Tony was preparing to put the chopper down. Matt and Frank remained quiet. All three were communicating through the headsets in their helmets; the sound of the rotor above them would have made it too noisy to talk otherwise.
It was still his first week in the new job and only his second living in the area. It amazed him that Sudah was so supportive even though he practically yanked her and the baby from New York. She stood by him, never questioning his decision and saying goodbye to their friends without even a tear. He was going to do everything he could to make sure this worked.
Matt felt the EC 145 bank hard to the right as Tony brought the bird around. His harness held him securely in the seat. He smiled as he watched the landscape grow bigger and realized that he was finally in his dream job.