Monday, May 08, 2006

Camel spiders, dust storms and acts of god

The camel spiders and scorpions are coming out, every night you can hear cheering coming from one of the maintaince shops as they put their latest contender into battle. You can preach the dangers of playing with poisonous insects but boys will be boys. The scene of Jarhead where they’re fighting scorpions? It’s been relived every night in multiple units out here and probably has back into prehistoric times.

My mom was always a bug squashier and her lessons backfired on me, turning me into a lover of small things creepy, crawly and slithery. I don’t take parts in the fights because I feel guilt for putting these critters in the ring, I catch them and then let them go far away from work. Yeah, I’m a big softie. Growing up in Arizona, I’ve never grown a healthy amount of fear of bugs or snakes. They were just a part of life and I let them go on their way unless they were taking up residence in my house then I would catch them and let them go outside.

We had a sand storm come in this afternoon, it hung over the valley and you could see it creeping across the landscape, swallowing everything. I made a video of it then ran into the exchange for cover. The sky darkened and the dust in the air added a fog like quality which unlike fog, made you cough and seeped sand particles into everything. I was going to the exchange to see this 8mm camcorder they had the day before but it was sold out (ended up not being the model I was looking for anyway, no USB or Firewire plug). So I made my way over to the covered bus stop, taking what shelter that I could from the wind and dust. Without goggles, you’re blind in weather like this.

I had sat down in the shelter from the wind when I noticed that the bus stop across the way had blown over and there was a group of people milling about someone on the ground. Being the corpsman, I rushed out back into the elements to provide assistance. The covered wooden bus stop had blown over and landed on a contractor.

I asked, “Has the ambulance been called?"

“It’s on its way”

An Army 1st Lt had taken charge and was doing an excellent job, I just provided support. We gave the patient C-spine precautions and held that position till the rig arrived a minute or so later, there's no reason in this kind of situation to move the patient any more then you have too. We turned the patient over to the good hands of the paramedics and walked away into the swirling dust.

I went over to my bus stop (after making sure it was anchored) and got on the next bus. The sand was still blowing and lightning started to flash through the clouds of dust and halfway to the squadron, rain started pouring down like god had thrown open the switch. At my stop, I made a mad dash to my building and said whew! Half an hour later, the rain had stopped, the sun was shining and all of the dust had been knocked to the ground. Crazy weather out here, you never know what you’re going to run into when you wake up.

A word of advice, don’t take shelter in anything that isn’t anchored down during a dust or wind storm, on my first trip, one of my warrant officers was in a port-a-john during a dust storm a gust of wind blew the entire row over on their doors into the street. Brown out conditions, you couldn’t see anything ten feet away, he was lucky that a passing humvee saw them lying all over the road and stopped before hitting the pile of them. And even more lucky that noticed that one of the John's was rocking back and forth making panicking sounds. He got out of it with some minor abrasions, a bath in that green stuff and I'm sure a mild case of post traumatic stress having to do with port-a-johns, yuck! Ever since, all of the other port-a-johns at this base have been anchored down.

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