There are some people, who despite their personality, you dread working with; one of these people is Noddy (not his real name). He is what is known in the trade as a “trauma magnet”. He's one of those people who will get the cardiac arrests, car crashes, shootings and stabbings; by contrast I am a “shit magnet”, meaning I only seem to pick up people who don't need an ambulance. Other than having to do some real work for a change I really enjoy working with him.
So I was working with him a little time ago and we got called to a suspended, basically this is someone who's heart isn't beating and they have stopped breathing. It's one of those jobs that require us to work hard trying to save the punters life. We got to the address and found relatives performing CPR on their gran. You might have seen it on T.V as a “Cardiac Arrest”.
(Let me correct a few ideas you might have about resuscitation. First, it rarely works, “Casualty and E.R.” have led people to believe that you often save people; I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of people who have survived an arrest and most of them arrested while I was watching them in hospital. Secondly, it isn't pretty, when you arrest there is often vomit, faeces, urine and blood covering the patient and the area around them. Finally, people never suspend where you can reach them, if there is an awkward hole, or they can find someway to collapse under a wardrobe they will do so).
This poor woman was covered in body fluids and was properly dead; there was no way we were going to save her. One of our protocols says that we can recognise someone as beyond hope and not even commence a resuscitation attempt. Unfortunately we couldn't do it this time as the relatives had been doing CPR (which is the right thing to do) and so we had to make an attempt.
Some crews would do a “Slow Blue” in such a case, but I'm not a big fan of such things, so Noddy and I got to work and tried to resus the patient for 30 minutes. Our protocol goes on to say that if after attempting a resus for a specified time we can end it and recognise death; which is what we did.
However, in this time it seemed that the entire extended family had arrived and there were over 20 people in this little terrace house with much wailing and gnashing of teeth. It's always hard to tell someone that their mother had died, but it has to be done, and if you can manage it well you can answer some of their questions and hopefully provide some healing for them.
The G.P was informed (as they get money for certifying deaths it's one of the things we can't do), as was the police (a formality in sudden deaths). The family had called a priest and he was there before the police arrived, while the GP was going to “phone the family”; what he expected to be able to do over the phone confused me. And we tided up and went on to another job.
Until two weeks later, when Noddy gets called to a chest pain. He turns up and finds himself in the middle of a wake, surrounded by twenty familiar looking people.
Can you guess who the wake was for?
Funny old world.