I am doing this.

Hello all,

Found out about this forum from the Medical School HQ podcast. Great show, if you haven’t checked them out.

I am 29 year’s old with a Bachelor’s in Industrial Design. I have been working in military aviation design/logistics for seven years and never felt content with what I was doing. I joined a specialized rescue squad call the Huntsville Cave Rescue Unit (hcru.org) and the HEMSI High Angle Rough Terrain Team (no longer in operation).

My first rescue was at a cave called Iron Hoop.

[dir=rtl:3ecdurkt]National Geographic image of Iron Hoop[/dir:3ecdurkt]

A caver had fallen and could not self rescue, so we were asked to go in after him. I learned a lot on the rescue including;

  • I overheat easily (now I just wear a t-shirt and an under-layer)

  • I should not go in without knee pads (ouch).

  • Crackers are terrible to bring in because by the end it just turns to powder in your bag.

After a mile of crawling on river rocks (remember, no knee pads) We found the patient. I will call him Jim. Jim had a massive hematoma around his posterior lumbar region, vitals were stable, and he was alert and oriented. We packaged him and hauled him back towards the entrance. Due to the fact that there was a mile of wet crawling, the patient was transferred using a technique called lap passing which looks a lot like one of those belt driven walkways you see in airports but using people's laps instead.

six hours later and he was out and on his way to the nearest hospital. Find out later he had fractured a vertebrae, but he would go caving another day.

Through all the hell of hauling this patient out of the cave; as soon as I reached him and until I transferred care, all I was focused on was his comfort and how he was holding up. I couldn't feel my aching knees. I didn't notice the time or wonder when I was going to eat, I just focused on him. I was completely happy. For the first time since college, I was happy doing something.

So, I pushed further.

Spring of 2014 I obtained EMT-Basic certification and started working part-time for a local ambulance company. It is a drug. I would rather be attending to people than doing anything else. My best friend says I show more pride and talk about my EMT work than I ever have about designing stuff for military helicopters.

At this point many of you might be thinking, "Well that is great but there is a big difference between being a rescuer/EMT and being a physician." You would be correct. Consider my previous experience like pre-shadowing. I now have experience in transferring patient care, doing Basic Life Support, and even giving reports to the accepting physician. I have started taking my pre-reqs for medschool, and the more puzzle pieces I put together of physiology, anatomy, chemistry, biology; the more excited and interested I become in learning more.

I am excited/worried about the journey but I am looking forward to being apart of this forum as I know I can take a lot from people in the same boat or who have already made it through and are around to provide help to the newBs.

I apologize for any grammar mistakes. I free flowed my post which is usually allowed in forums.

Welcome! Fascinating background! Loved your story, how you told it, and the photos [wonder if the rescuee is alright with his photo being used on a forum?] Looking for ways to pay forward all the kind assistance I received on the journey to med school acceptance, so happy to help in any possible way! I am 54, starting in August. Had a delightfully positive premed and med school application experience. I can wholeheartedly encourage you to go for it! :slight_smile:

Just to clarify. The photo is from a training session not from the rescue. I just wanted to visualize a lap pass. Yeah, I would think that could be a major HIPA violation. :slight_smile:

good to know :wink:

Hey sgaffin. I just joined here from MedicalSchool HQ as well. I’m prior Navy (Avionic Technician-Helicopters) and currently a firefighter in Louisiana. I would love to get certified in high angle rescue!! I know a few who are and absolutely love it. Right now Louisiana only has 1 team for the entire state and they are based out of Baton Rouge. I kinda want to be a doctor more, though. Gotta pick and choose what’s right for the schedule; can’t do it all, lol.

Hey, msaunders

Awesome to meet a fellow EMS provider! I do know of a four day cave rescue class certification that you can take. http://www.hcru.org/rescueclass. It is proboard accredited, so you can most likely get your dept to pay for it. I will most likely be helping with that class. We go over hauls and lowers and rope work on a bluff as well as a cave.