It often seems like the only memories I have are the nasty, horrible experiences that are permanently etched into my brain. The calls I wish I could forget, but know I never will…….Tonight, I am trying to focus on the positive memories. The saves. It does not seem like there are very many, but hopefully I can come up with a few.
A true cardiac arrest save:
A gentleman in his 60’s collapsed on the golf course. Right there on the green. His friends did the right thing and kept there even though he insisted he was fine. When we arrived, (yes – we drove right up to the green), he was awake, pale, and complaining of chest pain. We did all the normal stuff….IV, oxygen, monitor…..and loaded him into the back of the ambulance. Now, keep in mind, this was back in the mid-90’s – our monitors still had paddles and we actually yelled “CLEAR”.
As I am getting him situated and mentally devising my game plan, he suddenly goes unconscious. I look at the monitor – V-Fib. Remember, I have paddles and the defibrillator has to charge before I can use them. So, what do I do? Pre-Cordial thump. Yep – basically punched him in the chest. Just like you see in the movies. A few seconds later the monitor looks decent and he opens his eyes and tells me his chest hurts even more now. Huh.
He stays with me for the entire 15 minute transport. And then, he goes out again. At this point, we were just about to pull him out of the ambulance and the monitor is strapped onto the gurney. No way to get the paddles, so I hit him again. And it works again.
By the time I complete my report, he is stable and looking good. I don’t know what the final diagnosis was, although he had obviously had a major heart attack. I do know he survived – I saw him in the grocery store a few years later….
Seven year old girl dragged under a car:
The family was getting ready to go somewhere. Mom started the car and went back inside for something. The 7 year old girl was playing in the driveway. Her little brother climbed into the car and, you guessed it, knocked it out of park.
The car drug the girl clear across the street and stopped when it hit the split-rail fence. She was in the gutter, trapped by the tire. Somehow, the car had dragged her that far, but she never went completely under the wheel – although I think if the car had rolled another 10 feet……
It took several minutes to get her out from under the car. She was gasping for air. She had petechiae – tiny little blood blisters caused by extreme pressure – all over her face, chest, and arms.
She was very critically injured but I know she made a full recovery…….a few months later I received a thank you note with her school picture – which was taken several weeks after the accident.
The toddler and the grape:
We got called to a two year old choking. As we pulled into the parking lot of an apartment complex, a police officer came running out carrying a limp child. We put him into the ambulance and immediately went to work. His mother told us he had been eating grapes and started gasping for air and then passed out. We tried everything we could think of but could not get the grape out. We decided to make a run for the hospital, which was only a few minutes away.
I figured out that if I manipulated his jaw just right, and my partner held a mask at the perfect angle, we could provide enough oxygen to keep him awake. If we lost the angles, he would quickly lose consciousness. As long as we kept him perfused, he was awake – and he would just lie there very still and stare into my eyes. I am pretty sure I could see his panic and his gratitude – as if he were saying “I know you got this….but don’t quit on me”.
When we got him to the ER, the staff went through all the same things we did. Finally, after several minutes, one of the docs grabbed the kid by the ankles and held him upside-down. The grape dropped out. Why didn’t we think of that????
By the time my report was done, the kid was flirting with all the nurses and was about to be released.
There were probably more, but these are the three that I occasionally think about. I sure wish these were the ones that wake me up in the middle of the night…..