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.