Well that's the last time I say that I haven't had an interesting job all shift…
My final job of the day was to a 'collapsed male in the street'. Unfortunately Control were having a bit of a computer failure, so the job was given to me the 'old fashioned' way, by someone at Control telling me where to go.
“Collapsed in the street… he'll be drunk then”, I joked.
No matter, I still raced to the scene as quickly as possible (I've mentioned this before, that what I get called for, and what is actually wrong with the patient are often two very different things – so I always try to get to the job as quickly as possible).
The location wasn't exact, so I spent a bit longer than I would have liked peering down dark streets, looking for a man collapsed on the floor. Some people driving towards me told me that the patient was a bit further down the road.
My heart sank when I saw a huge crowd of people standing around a man laying flat on his back. My heart sank even more when I saw a man doing CPR on the patient.
I jumped out of my car, grabbed my bag and trauma shears and started cutting the patient's clothes off. A quick look at his face, and I didn't hold much hope for him.
“He was jogging, and just collapsed”, said one of the men who had been performing CPR, “he hit his head, we've been doing CPR at 100 compressions a minutes”.
“Are you medically trained?”, I asked.
“No”, he replied, “I'm a teacher, but I've done a first aid course”.
“Well”, I said, after glancing at the monitor, and noting that there was no activity in the heart at all,”You were doing really good CPR, so you have given him the best chance he has for survival”.
I just wanted them to know that they were doing the right thing. I knew the patient had pretty much no chance of surviving this event, but that these strangers were trying their best renewed a bit of my faith in human nature.
The ambulance arrived only a few moments after I did, and as I looked at the driver, I could see by the expression on his face that he also realised how serious the situation was.
There was no time for any playing around, so we loaded the patient on the back of the ambulance, and took off for the hospital. I was 'bagging' the patient, while the ambulance attendant was continuing the CPR.
We arrived at the hospital, but there was nothing that they could do.
As he was out jogging, he didn't have any identification at all. We had also taken him to a different hospital than you would expect – it wasn't the closest hospital by distance, but it was the hospital that we could get to the quickest.
…So somewhere, there is probably a family wondering why their husband, or their father, or their brother, or their lover hasn't come home. They'll ring the local hospital, and they won't have heard of him, and it will only be when they go to the police that they will find out the truth.
I'm also aware that the bystanders who were doing CPR would probably have this event haunting them – I deal with sudden death a lot, but for these people, it was probably the first time they ever had someone die in front of them. I wish there was some way that I could have stayed and made sure that they were alright, and that I was proud of them and that they should be happy that they did the best that they could.
So, a traumatic event for everyone except for us ambulance and hospital staff. And to think that people ask us how we deal with jobs like this…