Grit. Four letters, a crisp and terse pronunciation, grit might be my favorite responder value to appraise. It can bring up a lot of imagery; sleeves rolled up, dirt on your hands, sweat on your face, fatigue in your eyes, a load on your shoulders. However, grit is not saved only for cowboys, wild land firefighters, oil platform workers or special operation teams. Grit, as a value, in its simplest form, is found where shit gets done. Teachers, delivery persons, volunteer project managers, hospital maintenance staff, stay at home parents, the crews on the trash trucks in our neighborhoods and yes, especially you, the first responders - can all be examples of grit.
There is a lot already happening on scene by the time we set down and step off of a medevac helicopter. All the major rescue services are already in place: police, fire rescue, EMS; all deep into their work. As a medical flight crew, we are often the last to arrive, as the call for the highest level of patient care available takes place after the seriousness of the scene has been determined.
Tonight, the seriousness was staggeringly obvious as soon as we walked up.
An SUV had struck a stopped tractor trailer from behind at a traffic light on a local highway. The SUV was halfway under the rear of the trailer, pinned in an almost unbelievable wedge of sheared metal and glass. The roof of the vehicle had already been removed, chains and stabilization braces in place. Emergency lights everywhere, strobing the entire scene in red and blue. A dozen responders were surrounding the SUV, working to free the still entrapped driver. Then I see the sheet draped stretcher, just to the right side of the vehicle.
This is already a fatal scene.