I'd give his friend 11 out of 10 for sheer guts – he did something I wouldn’t have done in a million years.
They'd left him sitting on the sofa enjoying the afternoon sun – last night had been a heavy drinking session and he was a bit sleepy. He was fine half an hour ago, but when they next saw him he was covered in bloody vomit and he wasn't breathing.
I was working solo on the FRU car when I got the call as 'bad hangover – sleepy – not breathing'. As I didn't know any better I was thinking about what I would say to them when I arrived to find the patient breathing, something about ambulances not being needed for hangovers… Still – no matter, as always I drove there as quickly and safely as possible.
His friends opened the front door for me and I walked into the house – one of them, in a thick Eastern European accent, asked me to follow him. He led me out to the garden, lying on the patio in front of me was the patient. He wasn't breathing, he was covered in bloody vomit and he was a nasty shade of mottled purple. One friend was doing good chest compressions while on the phone to our Control.
Another friend was giving him mouth-to-mouth…
…through the bloody vomit covering the patient’s nose and mouth.
I’ve got to say that this impressed me a huge amount. It also made me feel a little ill.
To be honest – if his friends hadn't been doing CPR I probably would have recognised death right there at the scene – as it is, if someone starts CPR then we have to continue all the way to the hospital. I started doing my job – breathing for the patient using my ambu-bag and pounding on his chest to keep blood flowing to the essential organs.
Every time I pressed on his chest a little geyser of bloody vomit erupted from his mouth. With an airway in the patient’s mouth, that gush of fluid can travel a long way. The floor around the patient was also covered in his vomit, so I couldn't kneel down. I ended up doing the chest compressions standing with my feet five foot apart while bending over the patient.
My back started to twinge.
The ambulance took ten minutes to get there. To be fair, they did have a long way to travel, and there were some heavy roadworks between them and myself. We scooped him up into the ambulance and drove quickly to the hospital while I continued to do chest compressions and the ambulance attendant kept breathing for him.
As suspected there was nothing that we or the hospital could do – another man in his mid-forties dead.
I had to go back to the house to pick up the FRU car. The patient’s friends came out to meet me, only a few of them spoke English, so I had to explain that the patient had died. As NeeNaw mentions, the ambulance service doesn’t like to use the word ‘dead’. Unfortunately it was the word I had to use. I let them know that they had done everything correctly – but that the patient didn’t have much chance of surviving despite his friends best efforts.
I left them trying to phone the patient’s mother so that they, in their native tongue, could explain what happened.