I walk into work at 6:15am, I've been awake since half past five – Well, I say awake – what I actually mean is that I am somehow moving around, and have managed to drive to work, my mind is still comfortably asleep in bed back home.
I start to check the equipment in my FRU, most of it is there, but I'm missing a few pieces of kit. Expensive pieces of kit, probably sitting on a vehicle elsewhere in our complex.
Then my phone goes off. “Hello”, says Control, “We've got a cardiac arrest for you”.
I jump in the car, check the address, then I see the age of the patient.
Control has also sent a message that the patient's wife is doing CPR. This means that he might just have a chance of surviving this…
I race towards the address, it doesn't take long, although because of recent rainfall, I'm sliding all over the road.
It's only when I turn onto the road that I realise that I've been to this address before. I've spoken to this man previously, he seemed like a decent person. I know him.
I run in through the door, the hallway is clean but I can't see anyone, so I shout out.
“Up here”, comes the cry of an obviously distressed woman.
“Sounds genuine”, I thought.
So I bound up two flights of stairs and into the bedroom, where I see the wife performing pretty effective CPR on her dead husband.
She is crying.
I take over, connecting the patient to my monitor/defibrillator I see the patient's cardiac rhythm is Asystole – There is no activity in his heart at all.
Now comes the tricky part. I'm on my own, and there are a lot of things that I have to do very quickly.
I do fifteen chest compressions, this will hopefully get some oxygen to his essential internal organs. But to continue doing this I need to get his lungs full of air. So the next thing I do is connect up the 'ambu-bag' to my oxygen cylinder.
I tilt his head back and use the ambu-bag to inflate his lungs twice.
I start another fifteen chest compressions.
Downstairs I hear the crew entering the house.
“Top floor mate”, I shout, “Job is as given”.
When I say the 'job is as given', I mean that it was given to us as a cardiac arrest, and that it is indeed a cardiac arrest and not a faint/panic attack/cough or belly ache
It seemed like ages, but when I later check the times, the crew were less than two minutes behind me.
Three people come bounding up the stairs – the FRU from another station jumped into the back of the ambulance, he was waiting on station for the previous shift to return when the crew got the call.
I continue the chest compressions, one medic puts a breathing tube down the patient's windpipe. The other is getting access to a vein, so we can give essential medications. The last crewmember is doing the very important (but often underrated) job of looking after the wife.
After about nine minutes of this treatment, the rhythm on the heart monitor changes. It looks suspiciously like a decent heart beat.
I check for a pulse.
I find one!
The patient then spends the next couple of minutes (while we are preparing to move him) slipping in an out of either having a pulse, or having a 'shockable rhythm' which needs an electric shock to revert this back into a heart rhythm 'compatible with life'.
He ends up getting defibrillated twice before we can load him onto the carry chair, lug him down two flights of stairs and into the back of the ambulance.
We then find a member of the public upset that we are blocking his parking space. He is currently blocking the only exit that the ambulance has.
One of the crew has a word with him. She is much politer than I would have been.
He moves out of the way rather quickly.
As there are three crew in the ambulance, they don't need my help – so I follow behind them so that I can get my equipment back. By the time I reach the hospital the patient is being prepared for transport to the intensive care unit.
The wife gives the crew a hug, and sobs how grateful she is. Even the doctor at the hospital compliments us on a job well done.
But, failing a miracle, the patient will die, he was without oxygen for too long.
Once more it seems that we are just making time for the relatives to say goodbye. But for us it still seems like a success.