The day started off as any regular day. I got up, washed a load of laundry, got the grand kids up, got them out the door for school, hung the laundry on the clothesline, ate some strawberries straight off the plants, and left to go to work. I have to work out of town for a couple of days.
It's a much smaller crew I'm working with, only two of the people I supervise and myself. We went back to the project we worked on a couple of weeks ago where we happened to dig up four sets of human remains. This time we weren't distracted by the university students who were their with their professor and his wife (who were having some sort of tiff) and the locals who were interested in what we were doing. It made for a much nicer day. This morning we met with an earthquake expert and he said he was giving a lecture not too far from where we were working, just in case we wanted to come listen. Sure, I said. Give me a call when you are about to speak and we'll stop working and go on over. So we did.
His talk was great. We learned a lot about earthquakes and how the scientists are starting to be able to predict them. It's an interesting science because their predictions are plus or minus 20 years or so. Just when everyone thinks they are a bunch of quacks an earthquake happens in the location they said it would. He explained how the earthquake in Coalinga took pressure off the San Andreas Fault and made it less likely an earthquake would happen in Parkfield within their expected time frame. Then the earthquake in Paso Robles negated the Coalinga earthquake and put the pressure back on. Within a year Parkfield had their expected earthquake. And, they were able to predict it. I asked if California was going to have an early warning system for earthquakes like other states have for tornadoes. I know that in Japan they sound the alarm between 30 seconds and a minute before an earthquake strikes. The ground shakes way below the surface for that period of time prior to it being felt. They are able to sound alarms to let people know to take cover or move out of areas. One minute is actually a lot of time to get yourself into a safe location. I was told yes, the state is about to set up a warning system. It won't be on a loud siren for cities. This first trial, being paid for by the private sector as a grant to the government, is going to put the alarms on utilities: gas, water, electric, etc. If an earthquake is imminent then the system will automatically shut the utility off which will then prevent fires from breaking out due to gas line eruptions or electrical lines being downed. It's an exciting concept and I'm looking forward to it being put into place. It's not going to have a major announcement, it's just going to happen.
After the talk I went back to work on the project and my two colleagues went to lunch at the restaurant next door to where I was working. About 5 minutes later one of my colleagues came over to tell me I was needed at the restaurant. One of the people there for the lecture passed out and was laying on the ground. What? With the 50 people who were there for the lecture nobody was a doctor? You want me? Well, there were a couple of nurses but they left. Great. So I walk over and talk to my other employee. She was giving me the information she knew. I bent over to talk to the lady. One of her friends insisted she have her blood pressure taken. Whatever. Got to make them happy. So I went back to my truck and got my emergency gear. I had my employee put the bp cuff on. She started pumping it up. It wasn't blowing up. I tried it. Oops. It's broken. We got her pulse, kept her talking, gave her water, and asked her a bunch of questions. I also made the comment about when you hear that California is broke just remember that they don't even give me medical equipment that works. Such a comfort.
My employee was asking this lady questions. Do you take any medications? How much have you had to drink? Two glasses of wine? How about any water? Nothing at all but two glasses of wine and it's 85 out, you are sitting in the sun. Let's see. You are probably dehydrated. Drink some water. We'll sit with you until the ambulance comes. That will be in about an hour. Now if was a real emergency we would have called for a helicopter. It wasn't an emergency.
The "real" fire department showed up (they came in an engine). All we could do is pass along our little bit of information and apologize for not having all her vitals. Broken equipment. The engineer was talking to the lady and she told him about the medications she was taking. Wait a darn minute. You told us you weren't taking any! Don't you realize that could have been the difference between life and death? Our decisions may have been different if we knew what you were taking? In this case we would have known exactly what was wrong rather than guessing. But she didn't want to tell us what she was taking (incontinence medication) because her friends may have overheard her. So her vanity could have killed her. Not really in this instance, but you get the point I hope.
We didn't get as much work done today as we hoped. Tomorrow we will finish up and then I get to have fun by cleaning it all up with the backhoe. I get to go to one part of the property and dig up some soil then bring it to another part of the property and fill up a huge hole. It will be fun as well as getting to use my front end loader skills. Since it's not muddy anymore I'm going to practice with the backhoe too. Then back home for a nice weekend.