Monday, March 19, 2012

Surgical Excitement

Thankfully, our surgery day wasn’t jammed full of cases.  As David went to start to give some anesthesia to our first case, he turned on the machine and we all heard a hissing sound – something was leaking.  David, Jim, the scrub nurses, the nursing students and myself all walked toward the anesthesia machine trying to determine where the hissing sound was coming from.  You could see us bending down listening to all the hoses that came and went from the machine – but they were all quiet, but still the hissing came.  We turned off the oxygen and the hissing stopped, so we identified what was leaking, but where was still the problem.  Finally, someone got on the floor and heard the hissing getting louder and identified the leak, but now we had to get to it, which required taking off the back of the anesthesia machine.  I went to Jim’s house for some tools while someone else called maintenance. 

We got the back of the machine off and found the part that was leaking.  We reconnected it and tried it – still a hissing sound.  Now what?  Thankfully, we had another machine in our minor procedure room, so David set out to disconnect everything from the machine so it could be worked on, and then reconnect everything to the machine from the MPR.  It was a good 1-1.5 hrs of delay, but the 2nd machine worked just fine and we were able to start our cases.  Jordan, one of our maintenance guys, was able to fix the problem and we now have 2 functioning machines once again. 
As a doctor on the mission field, knowing medicine isn’t all that is required or helpful.  Knowing something about power, how to run a generator, and how to take apart anesthesia machines are also quite helpful. I guess, in general, knowing how to fix things is quite helpful, unfortunately, this is not a gift I have.  Thankfully, there is a team of us here.