He gets out of bed, washes and dresses, kisses his wife goodbye and, promising to be careful, heads off to work.

Some hours later I get a call to a male having difficulty in breathing.

We get there as quickly as I can drive because there is something about the job that makes me think it is serious.

We arrive after the FRU, the patient is on the floor and the FRU is performing CPR – the patient has no heartbeat and isn't breathing.

What happened? Did he have a sudden heart attack? Did he choke on his food? Did he have a clot in his lung?

I'll never know.

We do our job, it's a long resuscitation attempt for a number of reasons, lots of interventions.

The FRU who was first on scene tells us that the patient's workmates were taking turns in doing CPR, one of them puts his head around the door and explains what he saw.

“He just collapsed”, he says looking worried, “I tried to help but I was only doing what I've seen on TV. I was going to do mouth-to-mouth, but I didn't want to blow the vomit into his lungs…”

We all tell him that he did the best possible thing, that he should sleep easy tonight – but I know he won't.

At the hospital the staff work hard on him, but it is an effort that has no result – one more person dies today.

The police are asked to inform his wife. It's a job I don't envy. They bring her to the hospital, I'm outside cleaning the ambulance so I don't hear her tears.

I wonder who will tell his workmates.


After my shift I visit my mum and give her a hug – as I leave for home she tells me to be careful.

“Always”, I say.

9 thoughts on “Always”

  1. And that is why I ALWAYS make sure that when I speak to the people that matter, they know I love them and don't leave things unsaid.Whether its leaving my wife while she still sleeps in the morning or speaking once every couple of months to my sister I ensure they know how I feel and how much they mean to me.

    You never know when it could end but thats no reason to stop living and telling people you love them is a good way of living 🙂


  2. the absolute worst thing i hate about this job is even though the police or doctors in the hospital do it…most of them around here come and ask us..the medics/emts if they suffered…cause usually we were the ones who did the most work…sometimes it just kills me having that happen

  3. Given the nature of most “natural” deaths, sudden death like this has to be kindest for the individual – but it's cruellest on those around them.On occasion, when I've taken part in a successful resuscitation, I have had the fleeting thought that just maybe we're not doing the best thing for the person by saving them from a quick end; perhaps one day they may be painfully dying by inches, from cancer or emphysema or liver failure.

    But you can't play god, so we charge in and do what we can.

  4. Hear, hear ! You never know when your number's up. In this profession we know that better than most, and I for one take it less for granted than I did.

  5. This sounds just like what happened to my Dad, only 47 years old. At least it was quick, one breath and he collapsed when watching TV one evening. He didn't know about the broken ribs from CPR, the tubes, the panic around, very peaceful for the patient and absolutely the way I'd want to go. Heartwrenching for the family, though, but you can't have it both ways.

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