Saved One!

I know it’s a rare thing, but we actually managed to save the life of someone!  It was bloody hard work mind you, so I wouldn’t want to do it too often…

I got sent on a job with very few details , all I got was “Male, Unknown age, Unconscious, Unknown cause”. I knew roughly where the address was so I rushed around there, and saw the ambulance pulling up at the same time.

I quickly checked my computer screen and saw that I had gotten to the location in under eight minutes.  Whatever happened now the government would consider this job a success.

There was something about the family member who let us through the security doors that set my ‘spider sense’ tingling.  That ‘something’ was confirmed when the ambulance crew and myself walked into a bedroom and saw a rather dead looking 30 year old male lying on the lower part of a bunk bed.

I must admit that my first thought was ‘I wonder how long he has been dead?’, because if he had been dead for a while, we wouldn’t have to attempt a resuscitation.  We quickly pulled him from the bed and laid him on the hard wooden floor.

Grrrooooooollll” was the noise he made.

I’m very used to dead people making unusual noises, it’s normally as a result of their last breath leaving their body.

We quickly hooked up our heart monitor and checked for a pulse.

His heart was beating!

He took a shuddering breath.

The patient wasn’t breathing often enough to maintain life, so we would have to take over breathing for him, which we did using a bag and mask.

One of the crew lay on the floor and peered down his throat.  Would we be able to intubate him? (intubate = stick a breathing tube down the patient’s throat in order to protect their airway)

“Nope”, she told me, “his airway is too tight”.

We picked up the (heavy) patient and wheeled him out of the house and into the ambulance.

Another attempt at securing his airway…

“No chance”, she said, “His airway is the size of a pencil”.

This explained why I was finding it hard work to force air into his lungs.

“Perhaps it’s his asthma”, I suggested, “shall we get some Salbutamol into him?”

Salbutamol is an asthma medicine that is inhaled – we can use various complicated connecting tubes to give this drug while I continue to ‘bag’ him.

“Lets give some adrenaline as well”, I said, seconds later it had been drawn up and given.

Giving adrenaline is another treatment for asthma.

(Why was I the one making all the suggestions?  Well the crew were busy connecting monitoring equipment, gaining intravenous access and doing other tricky things – I had the simple job of breathing for him, so I had plenty of time to think about our next step of treatment).

Then it was time for the run to hospital.  By now the patient’s chest was getting harder and harder to inflate.  His levels of oxygen in his blood were lower than I would have liked, but it was pretty understandable considering how incredibly close he was to death.

His chest got so tight that it ended up with two of us ‘bagging’ him – I would hold the mask to his face, while one of the crew was using both hands to squeeze the breathing bag.  I can still feel the pain in my arms where I was using all my strength to squeeze the bag in order to force air down his tiny airway and into his spasming lungs.

Then he vomited blood – well, ‘vomit’ is an understatement, he actually went off like a geyser – bloody vomit flew up to the ceiling of the ambulance, on the walls, over my arms, onto my trousers and covered my face and glasses.

I have learned however to keep my mouth closed when this happens

We got to hospital, and as we were entering the resus bay the patient was starting to breath for himself – and by the time we had cleaned up the ambulance (and my face) the patient was sitting upright and was talking.

He had made such a recovery that the staff at the hospital had trouble believing that he was as ill as we told them he had been.

(Until they checked his blood levels, and on getting the results ended up sending him to intensive care).

A quick round of pats on our collective backs, and it was back to work.

Where my next job was a 30 year old with a painful foot for the past week.

29 thoughts on “Saved One!”

  1. So the airway was constricted until he geysered blood, and then he felt better.What did it turn out to be? Was it asthma after all? Did the vomiting have anything to do with the relief, or was it all the work of the Salbutamol and adrenaline?

    -Spring Dew

  2. I'll ask the crew next time I meet them, as they are more likely to have returned to the hospital and found out some of the more detailed blood results.Personally I think it was more an allergic reaction rather than a 'plain' asthma attack…

  3. Just another new user to the blog but not a new reader.Now i personally suck really badly at writing and cant put any of my thoughts down into a readable format, tried multiple times and made a total mess.

    I just wanted to leave a message/comment to say that your doing a fantastic job both workwise and blogwise and I always look forward to reading your blog every day. Its one of my daily things I do when i get to work, load up my system then load up the blog while waiting for a call. Not as interesting as yours but it pays for my internet addiction.

    Anyway take care and keep up the good work.


  4. Tom, is this a normal kind of reaction after struggling so hard to die??Do you ever find yoursef having to defend yourself when A+E don't believe you?

    Sorry, i'm in one of those hyper curious moods, was he actually asthmatic after all>??


  5. You see…the problem is that the A&E don't know what we have seen the patient has been like at home.So if we successfully treat a patient, then the hospital are often surprised that we have done such a good job.

    (Sometimes A&E staff do see us as just stretcher bearers…)

    So sometimes we'll come in with a patient that we are really rather worried about – while the hospital sees a patient who is stable, only because we stabilised them…


  6. So yesterday I had the opportunity to recommend your admirable blog to Sonya an EMT or Paramedic I met at the Reception desk of Luton & Dunstable A & E.On arrival there I reported that I was concerned my 91 y/o Dad had for the last hour been showing increased confusion & difficulty communicating. While I'm visiting him in London, I drove him to Buckinghamshire for a day in the country… I couldn't judge if it was a stroke, and didn't want to drive back to London.

    I was enormously impressed by the immediate quiet cooperation & caring response that followed in the next 3 hours, when I drove him home more reassured, to wait for today's GP's appointment.

    No other major symptoms, and it may be because he will not drink adequately, especially in hot conditions.

    I write all this because I was touched by the down-to-earth, genuine care: Sonya and other staff came out to assess and bring him in from the driveway.

    Working in Chicago, as I do, where my kids watch E.R. or Scrubs on the box; and where I work with elderly survivors of earlier trauma, I was so pleased to observe decent caring concern, staff in a busy crowded department who were patient and made sure the old man got it, despite confusion. And they also looked after me, and had a sense of humour.

    Such a relief all that, having heard too many in the US dismiss the ideal of the N H S as “socialised medicine” – which seems to dump a simple & magnificent goal for everybody in with how many Americans think of North Korea or Cuba….

    After I got home, I looked on-line to write a message of appreciation for the A & E staff, and was amused to find that the way to send in feedback is to their e-mail address which is “Complaints and Concerns”….

    This, then, is my long-winded way of adding to the messages from others on here for your work, and for your writing, and also for the efforts of so many others in the public sector who do the right thing quietly.

    david b.

  7. Tom if you change the comments system please make it easy for idiots like me to understand. It took a while before I got the hang of this one.Pat

  8. I'm glad that your experience was a 'good' one. the thing is – we really do try our best, just that sometimes we are let down by the lack of resources.And socialised medicine is great and works well with a private alternative.

    But then I suspect that the Americans ahte anything with the word 'social' or 'liberal' in it.

  9. Another job well done, thanks for giving us a nice uplifting story for once, nice to know they happen occasionaly.(although I expect would have been better with out the gushing blood/vomit?) ugh surprised you had to clean it up yourselves :o(

  10. This is an excellent post, and yet again gives us an insight into the drama and humanity that your job exposes you to (recent “apology to the dead” letter was another cracker).I'm commenting to ask you to consider if the focus of this blog isn't wandering? I know it's *your* blog, and the purpose of the blog is therefore whatever *you* choose, but I think the quality has been suffering recently.

    We're getingt more and more posts telling us about your “media pesonality” type activities (and aspirations?). It's dull. And unattractive.

    There's a million and one people throwing that kind of thing at us daily, on tv screens, newspaper pages and radio air waves – we don't need it, it decreases us all. Please don't fall into that trap.

    The gold here is that you allow us to join you in your work, with all it's rewarding, frustrating, saddening, joyful, bewildering and infuriating elements. The more you move away from that, the more irrelevant the blog becomes, and the more it risks moving towards mediocrity.

  11. Well that's one good reason to turn off anonymous comments. IMHO. It's your blog and you write whatever you like, most of us will read it all perfectly happily.Having said that (!), I did wonder whether you saw this article in the Guardian the other day,15825,1563141,00.html about potential problems caused by ambulance crews having to clean their own vehicles, and whether you had any thoughts on the subject?

  12. I wondered who would be the first zealot to post something like that in response to my comment. Congratulations, you are no doubt a worthy winner.I didn't post anonymously out of any desire to “hide”, I post anonymously because it's simpler and faster than registering.

    It seems that your knee jerk reaction to reading something you don't like with is “stop them doing that!” “don't allow it!”. Don't you think that is rather small minded and petty?

    There was no attack or abuse in what I wrote, it's a perfectly valid offer of constructive criticism/feedback from a regular reader. Mr Random Acts can consider it or entirely disregard it as he pleases. For you to suggest that anything other than glowing praise should be discouraged paints a very poor picture of the kind of person you might be.

    The reason for the possible move to non anonymous posting was made quite clear, to combat spam, not to stifle discussion.

  13. To be honest, I can't really agree that the I've been wandering too far away from ambulance stuff, having looked back over the last two months, the only non ambulance stuff has been moans on spam, seeing the Pixies, and having a holiday. Oh and a bit on accessibility.I think I did a 'wish list' once which had some aspirations, but that was ages ago.

    I will tell people if I have something about me pop up elsewhere – but that's just because some people are interested in that sort of thing.

    I'm wondering if you could give an example of a 'media personality' post, just in case I'm missing it?

    Nice to see that without my ambulance stuff my blog would be 'irrelevant'…

    Obviously, your mileage may vary, and while I take on board all my comments, I'm afraid I can't really agree with you.

    -Reynolds (in case the attribution fails again)

  14. How unnecessarily rude!! I can tell you that if you write in this comment box and sign your name – ignoring the user name etc – your comment will get through. So no excuses.Pat

  15. Oh yes – found them….Three posts in July – two on one day, and one the day after.

    Hardly drowning out the ambulance stuff…

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