When I am on duty and the tones echo over the speakers in our station, I begin to mentally prepare for what the emergency has in store for me. Are all calls life or death? No. In fact, a small percentage of them are, but regardless, what a patient sees as an emergency in their eyes is treated as such by me. We are not all trained medical professionals, I say.
I sat in the station working on some homework for my anatomy class during some much-needed downtime when the tones dropped for our unit. The call…cardiac arrest of a woman. Immediately I know time is not on our side. How long was she down for? Did someone witness her going into cardiac arrest? And more importantly, did the bystanders perform CPR? With precious moments ticking away, my partner and I jumped into our unit, and sped toward the scene.
First responders arrived on scene just before us and had initiated CPR. I do not know where we would be without their help. Sometimes I feel they are very unappreciated. I on the other hand whole heartedly appreciate them. These are men and women in the community that drop what they are doing, leave their paying jobs or families to come and assist us. And yes, they volunteer, so this means they do it for free. That shows so much dedication in my opinion and a true love for helping those in need.
Despite all of our efforts, we are unable to resuscitate the woman. Her heart had suffered too much damage. As the family speaks to law enforcement to make arrangements for their loved one to be taken to a funeral home, we were assembling all of our gear, making sure we were response ready for the next emergency. Once our equipment was safely stowed away in our unit, my partner and I left the scene. Here is the part that I do not think most people give a second thought to. As we are driving down the road and heading back to our station, there are loved ones that are shocked, hurt, and having to deal with the loss of their family member. As responders, I think we sometimes forget that part. Someone’s family member had just passed away. They are hurting. While we are surrounded by sick, injured, and even people who die, and I hate to say this, but I think we sometimes become numb to those emotions. I believe that it may be a safety mechanism for us to have the capability of handling the things we see day in and day out. Once the call ends, our minds go into auto pilot, and we move onto the next call. But I believe we leave a little piece of us on every call. Call this jaded if you want, but I can’t help but to wonder if when that person who just passed away, when they crawled out of bed, thought this was a good day to die? And that is why I try to live every moment of my life as if it were going to be the last because we don’t know the answer to that question. There is only one person who does and that is God.
I have said this often in the past, but here it goes again. Make sure the people who you love know that each and every day. You do not know if it will be the last time you see them. This may be rambling, but I felt the need to write about it.
Paramedic & Author