Yesterday I felt that my role as a RRU was justified, and this, coupled with the better weather, means that I am in a much better mood.
The unfortunate thing is that it was a tragedy that made me feel better.
The first job of the day came two hours into my shift, the call was “Woman fell out of bed, not breathing”. I got to the house in two minutes and climbed the narrow stairs to find a 55 year old woman laying in the lap of her daughter – also on the bed was two small children (perhaps one and two years old). The younger woman was crying – my patient wasn't breathing.
I had to pull her out from the side of the bed so I could get my resuscitation attempt started, not very dignified, and probably not that nice to watch either, as a stranger in green pulls your mother across the floor.
While doing this I was trying to get some form of medical history, but none of her relatives could speak English that well, but I managed to gather that she had just rolled out of bed, and besides tablet controlled diabetes she was otherwise healthy.
I was just about to finish the first round of CPR when I heard the ambulance crew turn up – I shouted down the stairs that the call was indeed a 'suspended', and when they entered the room they started to intubate and try to gain venous access. Venous access means that we can give potentially life-saving drugs, but in this case the woman's veins were so small that after two attempts we realised that it wouldn't be possible in this case. Instead we were able to give her the drugs via the ET tube, which is the breathing tube we use to protect the patient's airway.
We then saw a change in her cardiac rhythm, from PEA she entered VF so we 'shocked' her with my defibrillator. She then went from PEA to VF and back again every time we shocked her.
At one point during transport to the hospital we got a pulse back, but this soon degenerated into VF.
The hospital worked on her for an hour, and at one point she had both a pulse and a blood pressure, but unfortunately she later died.
And the memory of the job that I have is of cleaning her hair from where it had gotten stuck to the ambu bag, just after she had died in the hospital, hoping that the son-in-law wouldn't then choose that moment to look in the back of the ambulance.
At least I felt justified in my role – all too often you get used to being called to jobs that are, frankly, crap. This was a 'proper' job, and although we didn't save her, we gave her the best chance we could – if we hadn't been there, then she wouldn't have had even that chance.
This is a strange job – people who aren't sick annoy you, and yet the really sick people are 'good jobs'. We are only happy when someone is suffering.