Wednesday, February 7

Oxygen Machine Hijinks

The aviation world limits the kind of devices you can take on board an aircraft.  Makes sense.

However, there are many folks under the impression that, if they use oxygen on a regular basis, they can simply use the oxygen on the airplane during their flight.

Wrong.

To fly with O2 you must use an approved concentrator.  Makes sense.

Trouble is that most folks who rent these devices don't crack open the instructions taped over the controls, which clearly state to charge the batteries BEFORE traveling.

THE EMERGENCY
A woman is short of breath

THE ACTION
On our way!

We get an update just pulling out of the station that the caller states the woman now only needs her oxygen machine charged or a bottle of oxygen.
Yeah, because we just keep those in reserve and hand them out for free.

About 2 minutes out from the scene, after slowing everyone down to code 2, I receive the following message from dispatch, "Units responding to the oxygen call, you can cancel, caller states patient is now smoking a cigarette."
I had a decision to make.  A decision that faces all 911 providers when faced with a call like this:

Laugh first, then reply, or reply then laugh.  I did the former.

Arriving on the scene, since simply canceling doesn't actually solve the problem, I am met with a woman in a wheelchair who rented an oxygen machine yesterday and is baffled as to why it isn't working.  The instructions are still sealed in the bag taped over the start button.  Add to that she has checked the charger in instead of keeping it in her carry on bag.

I run inside and catch an airline employee who quickly runs down to the ramp level and retrieves her bag.
Plugged into an outlet and charging the first of 2 batteries she is still baffled as to why they don't rent out charged batteries.

She is not alone.  It is fair to say that more than a few times a week we are called to "change out" an oxygen bottle, only to be met with someone who has a little concentrator and no fresh batteries.

Problem solved, mischief managed, back in service.

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