An ambulance arrives and two brilliantly experienced paramedics jog down the steps towards me. I’m feeling better already and shoving a giant IV into that elbow when Mark barks out horrible, deep coughs that seem to come from somewhere behind his navel.
Still gasping for breath, he chokes and hacks until without warning his mask suddenly fills with bright red bloody foam.
People talk about colours that “don’t exist in nature” and had I not seen it come from a man’s body, I’d say it was OTT, but the blood that sprays from his mouth is so vibrant and vivid that it can only be highly oxygenated stuff directly from his lungs.
Your lungs aren’t meant to bleed, they’re delicate structures and easily ripped, but
don’t respond well to blood loss.
There’s the physical damage of course and the reduction of their function as organs that comes as a result. But also the air filled spaces in and around your chest cavity can clog with free blood.
If the area around them gets too tightly filled, your lungs will crush under the pressure of accumulated trapped blood and air. And then your heart, already starved of oxygen, will begin to be crushed as well.
It’s a toss up in my head as to which problem may kill Mark first.
Will his lungs give out and stop his heart?
Or will he have a cardiac arrest under the strain of his injuries?
There is so little we can do here. He needs an anaesthetist and a surgeon right about now.
“What’s the plan for extrication, Kal?”
“Fireys are en route and so’s The Van. Might flatten him before we lift him out?”.
But then one of the miners interrupts.
“We’ve got a cage we could lower down…we use it for inspections and stuff. Would that help?”
Subscribing to the concept that you should always accept an offer for help at first, it being easier to cancel it than go back later having changed your mind, I thank him and he starts blurting orders into his own radio.