Dec 16

Just Keep Breathing

Tag: Ambulance,Thrilling InstallmentKal @ 5:09 am

He’s gonna go. It’s clear for anyone to see and my first move is to call Control while I assemble an oxygen mask with my other hand.

“Guys, I need a vehicle as soon as, don’t divert it, this job will go purple.”

Because we don’t say “die” in front of the patients or their families.

His face is s chalky grey, his lips blue. I don’t bother to count his respiratory rate since I can tell you it’s “too many breaths a minute”.

Lying flat on the bed wont be helping, so I chivvy him up a little.

“We need to sit you up, pal, c’mon.”

He lifts his shoulders and scooches up the mattress an inch or so.

“No, no, more than that, really sit up.”

I grab his arm and, in a manoeuvre that would have any manual handling instructor shit their pants in horror, I drag him to a sitting position. I’m suspicious that making him push up like this may be just enough to make him arrest, but I’m positive that if he lies flat much longer he’ll give out in minutes.

A heart rate of 140, breathlessness that came from nowhere, his limbs are mottled where his heart cant pump hard enough to circulate blood effectively. His legs and belly look like bruised tortoiseshell and when I push my hands against his skin my fingerprints linger as white spots as sure as if I’d burned him with my touch.

He’s too sweaty to stick ECG pads on properly and denies chest pain anyway, but I hold the errant dots on his chest with myfingers to try and assess his heart rhythm. He’s shaking too hard for it to show me anything useful and I’m pretty certain it wouldn’t show me what I fear is going wrong.

I’d put money on this being a pulmonary embolism and a massive one at that. A fat clot has lodged in the blood supply to his lungs which, while they’re working just fine of themselves, are unable to transmit sufficient oxygen to his heart and brain. I’m basing this not on any solid data, but largely on “Because thats what I think is going on”.

The oxygen has perked him up, now he looks like cold shit, rather than a corpse.

Figure I’ll take what I can get.

My crew arrive and I help them package the patient onto the chair, again worrying that the exertion will prove too muvch for his hypoxic heart. Theres nothing for it, though. He needs to be in hospital, he needs to move now.

I’m sitting in my car when the ambulance leaves for hospital I hope he made the short trip alive. I don’t have his surname…so I guess I’ll never know.

7 Responses to “Just Keep Breathing”

  1. Andy says:

    That must be tough, not knowing if he survived or not. As always you’re doing a brilliant job. And the writing is fantastic.


  2. Win-Stone says:

    This sort of harks back to the post a couple of days ago doesn’t it. . . .

    Experience is a wonderful thing in so many ways, though it would be easy to believe that there are times when it must feel like a double edged sword.


  3. HeatherTheVet says:

    Lost a pal with that 2 weeks ago, but he had the instant death variety. Gives you the willies a bit.


  4. FireMom says:

    So, it’s confession time. I had to stop reading you for awhile because of posts like this.

    Grandpa’s death this past January was rough. He held on until the medics arrived. As soon — as SOON — as the medic touched him, he slumped and was gone. We like to believe he lasted that long so my dad wouldn’t have to live with the guilt that he “did something wrong” or “didn’t do enough” or so on. They got him back — briefly — but lost him by the time they got to the hospital. My family lives in the middle of no where. It’s a long ride, even in a hot ambulance.

    And so, I shut off from the medic community for awhile, knowing that posts like these would cause tears to roll down my cheeks. Like they are now.

    And so I just wanted to thank you — since I don’t know the names of the medics who arrived that day to help my beloved Papau — for the care you put into each patient. I already know about it, being married to my husband, but I just needed to put it back out there, to spread it around a bit. And apologize a bit for disappearing for so long.


  5. Uphilldowndale says:

    :( for firemom; :( for that patient.


  6. PA State Cop says:

    Sucks running a Code by yourself.


  7. PA State Cop says:

    Sucks running a Code by yourself.


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