Tuesday, August 18, 2009

After going through HURRICANE BOB, a little bee almost claimed a victim

By M.L.Baron, KA1WBH West Island Weather Station

CableVision of Fairhaven/Acushnet Ma
had miles of cable lines downed by Hurricane Bob, that impacted the Southcoast of Massachusetts. Cable services to homes and businesses were torn off by high winds, debris and fallen trees. Cable TV crews, Utility workers and contractors flowed into the area to render assistance. The cable company was short on communications gear so I provided some of my portable radios from my weather station. As program director for Fairhaven/Acushnet public access Cable 2 , not much could be done immediately after the storm. The station was without power, however the studio van's generator provided some electricity to the building with badly needed lighting and power to some of the electronics.

I monitored cable radio traffic when all of a sudden, a frantic call for help came over one of my loaned radios. A crew working way out near the Acushnet/Freetown line was in serious trouble. Yellow jacket bees were a nuisance all over the place from fallen trees disturbing their nests and where very aggressive and agitated. Numerous workers were stung. Shortly after one crew member was stung, he had a violent reaction and fell to the ground. There was only one worker with him far out at the Freetown/Acushnet line. He made a frantic call on the 2-way radio and barely made a readable signal. He stated his partner had stopped breathing and was turning blue after being stung. The manager at the cable office was startled and said, "I don't know what to tell you!".

I took control of the frequency, and immediately called the Acushnet Police Department for an ambulance.I spoke with dispatcher Mrs Richard, and told her to get in touch with the ambulance via radio NOW and relay to me first aid to get the victim breathing immediately "or I was going to lose him". The ambulance gave instructions over their frequency and I copied the radio traffic and carefully relayed the instructions step by step to the victim's co-worker on his radio. I had to move fast because I didn't know how much power their portable radio had left. I remember the EMT's saying to get the victims head face up and neck straight so that his wind pipe would be unobstructed, and then they guided us with mouth to mouth resuscitation procedures.

The seconds it took to go through this felt like an eternity, I can only imagine what the co-worker was going through trying to save his friends life. In the meantime the ambulance was going as fast as safely possible dodging debris and fallen trees to get to the scene a dozen miles away. There was a brief moment of silence on frequency and the Acushnet EMT asked for an update, I radioed the co-worker and he appeared to be crying, and stated that his friend had started breathing again! It's amazing how a little yellow jacket could have brought down a burly 285lb man. I'll never forget the cable man giving me a hefty hand shake days afterward,he thanked me for saving his life. I advised him it was a team effort and that his co-worker who kept a cool head is the real hero.

Just to recap, it is important to note that up to 50% of hurricane casualties can occur long after the storm has passed from the hazards that are left behind.

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