July 23, 2010
This summer, the Boy Scouts of America celebrate their 100th anniversary, and the U.S. Postal Service has unveiled a spiffy new stamp to honor the organization.
One of my favorite Scouting quotes comes from Janice Hudson’s Trauma Junkie: Memoirs of an Emergency Flight Nurse. Hudson worked for many years as part of the air ambulance service in the San Francisco Bay Area. She writes:
“One of the more frightening community events for CALSTAR [California Shock/Trauma Air Rescue] was the Boy Scout Jamboree. Every year the dreaded memo arrived, followed by frantic phone calls by the scheduled flight crew, who begged for somebody, anybody, to take the loathsome shift….
“Why did everyone dread this particular event? Imagine, if you will, five hundred prepubescent boys, wired on Twinkies, rushing the helicopter. Their first target, invariably, was the antennas. We had a total of five external antennas mounted on the underside of the tailboom and belly, all of which were unbelievably expensive, fragile, and absolutely indispensable to the safe operation of the helicopter. One good grab and the antenna would snap off, leaving us out of service until it could be repaired. After they finished with the antennas, the Boy Scouts wanted in—in the helicopter, that is….
“As we circled overhead, we were filled with a sense of foreboding. The ground below was teeming with kids, who looked like small ants swarming over the large field. They were everywhere….
“When we began the landing, there was a brief bulge in the lines as the kids tried to surge forward. The Scout leaders, battling bravely, held them back…. The lines held, right up to the moment the rotors stopped turning. Despite the troop leaders’ gallant efforts, the kids broke free…. Two hours later, we realized we were lost. Kids continued to swarm over the helicopter like a plague of locusts.”
Hudson fakes an emergency call, and “we lifted off in a cloud of dust, leaving our tormentors behind.”
CALSTAR still makes an annual appearance at the Boy Scout Jamboree.
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