Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Ferry Ride

I’ve lived the majority of my life in New England. I was born and brought up not too far west of Boston and my family moved to New Hampshire at the end of my first year of high school. Kind of a strange time in one’s life to be uprooted, but there it is. And I adjusted pretty well, I think. I still occasionally visit the area I grew up in as I have family and friends that are still there.

When I was very young – I was either 4 or 5, not sure which - my parents used to take us camping down on Cape Cod. One camping trip was memorable because we went with my aunt and uncle and their family – they had a trailer and we had tents. The first night we were down there it rained. Hard. And it wouldn’t stop. The rain was so bad that it caused us to be flooded out of the campsite.

In hindsight is was really pretty funny, but I’m sure it wasn’t funny when it happened. Us kids ended up in my uncle’s trailer to stay dry. I don’t know what happened with the adults.

The reason I mention this is on Thursday we transported a patient to the hospital on Martha’s Vineyard. A pediatric patient – born a couple of days prior to this trip to a mother who was having trouble with the birth. Patient was transferred to Children’s because there was a question of whether or not there was infection present as the mother had been found to be positive for Group B strep. So when the child was cleared he was transported back.

But the interesting part of this trip wasn’t the patient – it was a routine transport with no complications – it was the circumstances. And the trip itself. First, the circumstances: we had no idea why a double Paramedic truck was tied up and a nurse sent with the patient. Turns out that it is hospital policy if distance or travel over water is part of the transport.

Over water, you ask? We had to take the ferry from Woods’ Hole in Falmouth to Vineyard Haven. An approximately 30 minute ride from point to point. To get there, though, we had to make the trip from Boston in less than two hours, and we did it in about 90 minutes. I have no idea how past my partner drove, and I don’t want to know. It’s probably just as well. And we had to wait for the return; we didn’t leave the island until about two hours after we dropped off the patient. It made for about a 10-hour trip when we were done.

Also, the hospital down there is classified as a Cottage Hospital as there are a total of 15 beds. Not even a community hospital as it isn’t close to big enough.

Second was the trip. While I have been to the Cape numerous times in my life (the Marine unit I was in as a reservist used to drill down there, and as far as I know, still does, plus I have had various relatives own property down there) I had never been to either of the islands. What little of Martha’s Vineyard I got to see is really pretty, though; I get the impression it is a different world down there. And I imagine it isn’t much different out on Nantucket Island. From what I have been told and what I could see, there is affluence down there. Considering some of the people who own property there who are well-known, I’m not surprised.

We were down there for only about 4 hours; certainly there was no time for touring. But the little peek I got was worth the trip. I would really like to go back at some point as a tourist. But probably not during the summer; perhaps Martha and I can make a trip down there during the fall at some point when everyone is up in my neck of the woods peeping at leaves...


Susie Hemingway said...

I love to read more about these places, never seen but read about many times previously in books or seen on televison programs - Martha's Vineyard conjures-up a pretty scene and Nantucket Island sounds expensive and elite.Although you were carrying a precious cargo, it must be really interesting to make these journeys sometimes.
Best Regards

Anonymous said...

Hey bro! This trip sounds like a far more positive experience than some of your other more recent calls. Just the tone of your post is far more up beat. The islands are so beautiful. And a trip in the fall could be part of your commitment to a less stressful work schedule. Go for it!

TOTWTYTR said...

I used to be part of a group that did ACLS classes down there at MV Hospital. We'd go in May, but early, before tourist season. They hired a lot of summer help, so they wanted to make sure that they and the regular staff were current on ACLS. As you note, very small hospital, I think they had 15 beds back then. Plus the attached nursing home.

They admit almost nobody, especially if it's more than just something routine. Lot's of off Island transports, either by ground, MedFlight, or if it's a real emergency USCG fixed wing. When I was teaching one time we did a scenario which required pacing. They could do external pacing, but could not place a wire, so anyone that got paced got flown to the mainland with the external pacer on.

The permanent population is about 20,000, but it gets up to about 100,000 during the summer.

If you are going to go, go in May or late September. Most things are open, but prices are not at tourist rate yet for most things. If you go in May, you can find bargains on clearance items from the previous season. Which will be important if you take Martha with you. Which you will.

Teaching down there was a good gig because even though the pay was only OK, they put us up, fed us, and let us stay the weekend after the class was done if we wanted to.

Sadly, someone else got the contract, so I don't get to go there anymore.

Walt Trachim said...

We have had to meet the Coast Guard a couple of times out at Signature Air. Once they flew a patient up in the fixed wing, and another time they brought someone up in one of the Pave Hawk helos - patient was really sick and the rotary was the only thing available. Both times out of MVH, and both times a Paramedic from Oak Bluffs EMS accompanied the patient.

I was impressed with the medics from Oak Bluffs; they knew what they were doing. And considering how sick these patients were (the one in the Pave Hawk was a head bleed and the one in the jet was a multi-system trauma) the Coasties did some strong work; both times they were dealing with weather as well as the patient.