This post was first published on ' The Ramblings of a Graduate Paramedic' Blog by Saul Gaunt. You can follow him on Twitter @saulie10
It’s interesting, I never really thought about writing a blog before. Never really felt the need. I’m not someone who before now needed to write my emotions down. But this has one has stayed with me…. A little about me first. I’m a second year student paramedic working for a UK ambulance service. I’m still naive about life and getting to grips with growing up and seeing what the world is all about. Things still get to me out on the road. Yes I chat it out to my awesome family, and my wonderful friends. But this one won’t go away and that’s the inspiration I have for writing this blog. The day began as any other would do, packing the ambulance, first cup of tea and setting off to our first job. Our radio gave us both a shock informing us of a cardiac arrest nearby. We informed control that we were available and close by. The job pinged through to our onboard computer and off we go. The job came through as a 40ish year old man confirmed cardiac arrest. Now I’ve been to cardiac arrests before, but I still get that knot in my stomach. So much to do, so much to think about. Not just the clinical side but also dealing with the relatives, the scene, the aftermath as well.
We arrive on scene which is a carpet shop and are hurried upstairs by the workers of the shop. Upstairs was not a pleasant scene and will never leave my head. Another paramedic crew were already on scene beginning resuscitation. They gave us a handover of what had happened. Essentially, our patient had arrived at work as normal to open up the shop and went upstairs to use the bathroom. 40/50 mins later his co workers arrived and noticed he was nowhere to be seen. They went upstairs to the bathroom, shouted from him but heard no response. Eventually they had to break the door down to get to him. The area he was in was tiny. The crew had already pulled him out as far as they could. But the room to work around him was very limited.
He also had vomited, which gave the room a smell that was almost unbearable. I get down into the tiniest space (was impressed I could fit) and started pressing hard and fast on his chest. With CPR you need to block out the situation around you and concentrate on keeping the rhythm, however as you can appreciate this is not always an easy task. Constantly my mentor was having to correct my pace, “Staying Alive, ah, ah, ah, ah” she said to me.
Ribs breaking is a very common and understood side effect of CPR, so as i’m performing this “life saving” procedure, my patient's ribs break under the pressure, giving me that familiar spine tingling feeling. I’m having to constantly adjust myself because of the awkward position I’m in, things are flying all of the place as I do this cups behind me are breaking, but i’m fully concentrating on my task in front me. Immersing myself in the task to prevent my head wondering to think about what was actually happening around me. All I was thinking about was “Up and Down, Ah, Ah, Ah, Staying alive” The other paramedics are trying to get an airway secured and get some fluids into the patient but…
Long and short of it. The patient was dead.
45 mins after my arrival we stopped our interventions. We ‘tidied’ up the patient and got the police to attend (standard procedure as they act as the coroner). We were also told that the wife was downstairs. We went downstairs to tell the wife what had happened. She had no warning. This was all a massive shock. The man had very little past medical history that she was aware of. It was well and truly unexpected. The wife was understandably beside herself. I will never forget her sitting there with her coffee in her hand. Hearing the paramedic tell her, her husband had died. Those clichés of “we did all we could” and “he had no pain” came out. But what else do you say in this situation?
Now, again I’ve seen death in this job. It’s inevitable. My line of work I’m going to see death and destruction. I have to take as much as i can from these types of jobs and apply them to my life, and try to become better because of them. The clinical side is not the issue here. It’s how crap life can be…
This man went to work as normal, left his wife at home. Got to work everything was normal. He went to the bathroom and that was it. Collapsed and died.
Poof, all over.
Normal morning – dead by 12.
As my mentor said to me after that job, “Shit really isn’t it?”. It makes me realise just how short life is.
I have to get up everyday and make sure I live my life to the fullest. Get out there and make a difference. Make the people around me proud. Have fun with my family. Enjoy the time with my girlfriend. Go out with my friends. Not bother with silly fights because you never know one day it might just all end. Life can be shit. Fights with friends, disagreements with family, arguments with partner. But life is also short. Too short. What’s the point. Just be happy. Enjoy your life, enjoy the people around you. And if they aren’t making you happy then why are you still hanging around with them.
I never really been upset at the end of a shift on placement. But I got home and just cried. Not because of the job. But because I realised I wasn’t doing things because I wanted to. I promised from then on, that I would live my life to the fullest and always make sure that I’m a happy little bunny and not let things get me down. Paramedicine is an interesting career. Finish your back before you retire. Miss birthdays, not see your other half or friends for days. Sometimes not see sunlight for days!! So why do I carry on with it all? I guess it’s because these patients and relatives make me look at myself and realise things that I never thought about and open my eyes to see things about the world.