I had a great time at folkfest this year. By ‘folkfest’, I mean my first fest love, of course; the Philadelphia Folk Festival. I have been going to the Philly Folkfest since 1994; volunteering since 1997.
I’ve missed two years of folkfest since 1994. The first occurrence was during my early Lakeville Internet days while I was feverishly setting up the network between the time the T1 was installed and when we could start charging customers for dialup access.
The second occurrence was in 2007; demands of a new job and an unlikely attendence to the Burning Man festival conspired to steal the time allotted for the Philly Fest.
This year was I was back to fest again after the first year of the twelve that I’d skipped since I’d been volunteering at fest. Before skipping last year, I’d been a member of the senior staff of the camping committee. This group has total control of the campground and the thousands of people who choose to camp on the fest grounds for the four day duration of the festival.
I had been promoted to a shift field supervisor position (field sup ) as of the 1999 fest and to a shift supervisor of overall campground operations (op sup ) in 2002. This year I was considered an op sup but operating in the field in conjunction with the op sup at camping headquarters. The field op sup was a new position designed to react to campground disturbances. As a field sup I was working independently along with two other similarly-ranked campground security people and a few additional volunteers. The three field op sups were expected to be in the field and available by radio from 11 pm until 5 am from Thursday until Sunday and by cell phone at other times to react to unusual situations and provide on-scene leadership.
As a headquarters operations supervisor, I had overall control of the campground security but had lessened opportunity to deal with campers except as a result of case escalation. I missed the direct interaction with campers in the campground. My new position put me right in the campground but with a direct effect on situational outcomes. I was very excited to assume the position I was offered.
It was nice being back in the feld and directly addressing the issues in the field instead of advising over the radio from headquarters. I ended up working a fair amount of time but still had time to myself to hang out with my friends and visit with fest buddies.
By Sunday evening, Camp Smegma (our space within the larger fest campground) had largely cleared out, most people having left to return to the world. Peregrin8, Mr. Darkness, Filthy Hippie, and I stayed behind to break down the camp, an event which customarily occurs on Monday morning with certain traditions to be upheld.
I did not work at all Sunday evening. I turned off my radio and cell phone early on and enjoyed the last evening as a camper. It was swell except for the part where Filthy Hippie snatched off my hood just as my fest supervisor (who immediately recognized me) rode by on a golfcart to deal with some problem.
Breakdown went well on Monday. We packed up all of the gear under the big top and then took the tent down. It was very hot and sunny and we worked up a sweat as we packed the truck. Finally the packing was done and we huddled behind the truck in the minimal shade to share the traditional last beer of fest.
As many people had left the campground, we could now see some grass for a good distance all around where we had been camped. We noticed three people on the ground a few hundred feet away. One was seated, one was prone, the other supine, all in the shade of a small card table. We laughed and discussed what a good idea that group had.
After a few minutes, a pickup truck came bouncing across the campground followed by an ambulance. The two vehicles pulled up at the card table.
I thought I’d wander over and see what was going on. I got up and started to walk over as a single EMT, an older woman, jumped out of her ambulance and walked over to the group. She immediately turned to the driver of the pickup and said something to him. He drove off.
As I walked up, I could see that the supine person wasn’t looking so good. He was grey and sweaty. The prone individual was holding the patient’s head. The two people were telling the EMT that he had fallen some time ago, had been falling a lot lately. The patient was not speaking.
The EMT looked nervous. I asked her if she needed a hand, that I was an EMT. She agreed and said that she had sent the pickup up to the top of the campground for an ALS truck, that her truck was a BLS transfer truck. She wanted to put the patient on O2 and take vitals. She also wanted to board and collar the patient. I got gloves, a board, collar, and blocks from the back of her truck and put them by the patent. He wasn’t ready to be moved yet; one of the people with him originally was putting him on O2 and taking a blood pressure reading. While he was getting the O2 ready, I found an SPO2 meter in the bag and put it on the patient; heartrate 133, SPO2 81% on ‘room air’. Not good.
As we were getting the patient onto the backboard and packaged, another ambulance pulled up. The crew got out and watched what we were doing but did not intervene; we were doing what needed to be done and more hands would not have helped. The EMT gave a report to the paramedic; I provided some other information to him from my assessment and care. The paramedic said that they were going to fly the patient from the parking lot of a local fire department.
Someone got the stretcher from the first ambulance and brought it over. I picked up the foot end of the board and helped transfer the packaged patient to the cot. I helped strap down the patient to the cot and took the foot end of the cot to move it to the ambulance. The front end of the cot was secured beyond the latch in the ambulance for loading; I picked up my end of the cot so that the wheels were off the ground in order to collapse the undercarriage.
The first EMT started to tell me that there was a red handle to pull to release the wheels. The paramedic stopped her.
“It’s okay, he works on an ambulance.”
Nine years ago, I had a very different experience.
I had driven only about a half mile down the road when the jeep immediately in front of me made an abrupt right-hand turn into a telephone pole. Of course I stopped. The passenger, a twentysomething male, jumped out, shrieking. As I approached, he was screaming about his girlfriend and pacing about. I went around to the driver’s side and observed a woman slumped over the wheel and not moving. As I moved back around the car, the man started screaming that he had glass in his eyes.
That accident was one of the four events that compelled me to get some first aid training.
When the paramedic made his statement, I realized that I had come back to where I had started. I had responded to a medical emergency at fest and known what to do, not just at a first-responder level, but in such a way that my skills were apparent to a paramedic observer as that of ambulance-level care.
It is hard to articulate my feelings about this event. I hope the patient is okay.