Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Waiting at the FBO

I'm at an FBO in a northern boom town, waiting for my aircraft to be fuelled. I'm overnighting here, but the last two times I've ordered fuel here, morning preflight has revealed that no fuel has been delivered to the aircraft, resulting in departure delays. So this time I'm going to stand right here and wait until I can verify the presence of fuel in my airplane, before I get a cab. The fueller is off servicing an airliner down at the terminal, so I have to wait until he is done.

Inside the FBO there are two clean cut white guys in pilot uniforms, and a curvy woman in a jumpsuit flaked out asleep on couches. The woman's jumpsuit bears an aeromedical patch: they're a medevac crew obeying the aircrew maxim: never forego an opportunity to eat, sleep, pee or do laundry.

A fancy car pulls up outside the plate glass window and a pregnant woman walks up to the FBO counter, swinging the car key on her little finger. She asks the attendant about an incoming Gulfstream. It's expected, but hasn't radioed in yet. I don't hear the whole conversation. I can't tell if she's delivering a rental car or meeting someone off the plane. She went back out to the car or perhaps to the washroom.

The guys on the couches wake up. Their paramedic continues sleeping, masses of curly hair hiding her face. In my experience the paramedics usually have better duty days amd rest rules than the pilots, but perhaps she is unlucky.

"Waiting for an ambulance?" I ask the pilots.

They are. I've been there, done that, but this crew has never even heard of the community where I was based to do so. A bizarre thing about medevacs is that they need a plane right now to get a patient to another centre as soon as possible, but the ambulance and patient are never ever ready when you arrive. You can wait three hours for them to turn up. In many cases if they started driving as soon as they called for a medevac, they could have driven the patient to the distant hospital first.

When the ambulance arrives, the pilots gently wake up their paramedic. As she walks groggily out to their aircraft with them I notice a sticker behind her ear. It must be but one of those airsickness medication patches. Her job can't be fun if she gets airsick. No wonder she's exhausted.

The fueller returns and fills my wings with avgas. I pay and then wait forever for a cab, so I can go to a hotel and sleep, too.


Rob said...

So good to have you back aviatrix! Missed your regular updates and stories.

Jess @ OS Flying Courses said...

Such a shame that you have to physically stand there and wait to make sure a job gets done!

grant said...

"then wait forever for a cab,"

The longest wait in the world... usually the wait grows in correlation with length of duty day just finished... and lateness of the hour... and inclemency of the weater...

majroj said...

I did one medevac as the EMT along. One doesn't want to wait on the ramp with a patient requiring fast transport in an ambulance, it's tempting Murphy to make the patient get sicker and have to drive back to the hospital rather than just get i and fly away...and then the plane has no one coming for a day or so, if the patient lives.