I really, REALLY Hate Xanax…

*Clicks fingers over keyboard keys…*
*Lights cigarette…*
Thinking, thinking, thinking…
*Lights another cigarette…*

I’ve been on 5 full arrest’s since I started my volunteer EMS gig (almost) three years ago.  It doesn’t seem like a lot in that time, and it’s not.  But you have to remember I’m only at the firehouse on Sunday nights with a 24 hour shift thrown in every two weeks.  In that time, not a single one of those arrest’s have been successful.

{Now, before anyone gets confused real-life EMS is not, I REPEAT: NOT like an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, House,  or E.R.}

Out of the 5 arrest’s I’ve been a part of, myself along with my crew, were never able to successfully resuscitate any of the patients.  Never a pulse, never a heartbeat… nothing.  Monday morning, an hour before the end of my shift, the tones rang out for a ‘Person Not Breathing’, along with basic notes of age, sex, and the details of an unknown downtime.

She was in her early thirties.  Her boyfriend thinks she overdosed on some pills (entire bottle was empty) after receiving news that she may have cancer.  When I got to her, I found CPR in progress by my Assistant Chief.  Her lips and fingers were blue, and she was on the floor.  My Asst. Chief was doing compression’s as I pulled the BVM from the oxygen bag and started bagging.  After a minute, I noticed I wasn’t getting air into her, so I asked for an Oral-pharyngeal.  After I fought with her lock-jaw, I got it in place and resumed bagging.  The OPA did the trick, and I was getting a rise-and-fall of the chest.  We did what we could till we decided it was time to get moving and get to the hospital.

My crew was in the back as I hauled ass in the MICU to the hospital, while breaking a new transport-time record.  Five minutes from the hospital, I heard them yell that they got a pulse!  They managed to finally attain a blood pressure and maintain the pulse until I got us into the ambulance bay.  They told me to get an extra pair of hands, and as I ran back from inside the ER to help, I saw the entire team follow behind me.  We got the patient from the MICU and to the ER room and let the nurses and doctors take over.

I was tired, sad, and happy all at the same time.  I had one hour till the end of shift, and was woken up by the tones (I never sleep on 12 hour shifts).  I was sad about the circumstances of the call, and happy because for the first time, I was a part of a call were we had some type of actual resuscitation.  Like I said, EMS is not what you see on TV.  One of the hardest things to do is make a person’s heart start beating again.  This time, I thought my patient had a chance…  no matter how small it may have been.

15 hours later, that was all turned around.  Her unknown downtime was long enough to cause the loss of all brain activity.  Her family made the decision to take her off of life-support.

It’s sad that a 30-something year old, who was quite pretty, had made the decision to end her life over a health issue, that hadn’t even been clarified.  I’m sure there could have been other issues that played into her reasons…  But I hoped for the chance… just the chance… that she could have come back to her boyfriend and family.  The thing that made me smile?  Her family has made the decision to donate her viable organs.  So in the long run, at least we may have helped save more than one person in that situation.  Its small things like that, that turn a sad call into a less-sad call.

As for myself,  I was disappointed that my first patient to have any type of resuscitation didn’t make it.  I know its hard, but you never know which of those patients are going to be the one that defies the odd’s and survives.  I will always give the patient the benefit of the doubt, because the human body is an amazing device.  Its full of potential and surprises.  Until the doctor calls Time of Death, or its blatant… I won’t… can’t consider the patient lost.  THAT is not a part of my job.

Now it’s onto the next shift… the next call… the next patient… the next loss.  Either way, I’ll be there.  Doing my best… and hoping for the best.

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