Sunday, July 16, 2006

Real Life Bites You In The Ass


A week ago Saturday I'm at home with my children, the girl is at work. It's about 1pm and I'm settling down for some television while the children are taking their afternoon nap.

My buddy Rick walks into my house and says he needs me to come over to his house with him, someone has locked themselves in his garage and he hears music blaring. Immediately I tell him to call 911 and we'll sort the issue out from there. He calls 911 and they inform him that there are no local police officers on duty he would need to wait 15 minutes or so for the sheriff to arrive. Rick heads home and sends his son over to watch my kids so I can leave. I arrive at Rick's house just as the first Deputy does. The garage windows are all blocked off, you cant see in it anywhere.

The deputy says he is waiting on another deputy before he enters; being a tactical medic I understand fully, but Rick is very upset. He wants to get to the bottom of this, and generally feels a little freaked out. I guess I don't blame him, if it were my garage I would be a bit freaked out too.

While we are waiting for the other deputy to arrive I try to brace Rick for the two possibilities I foresee. I know he and his ex-girlfriend have been on the outs for the better part of 2 years. I know that there is some concern over his visitation of their child, and I know he sought the advice of a lawyer to try and rectify the problem.

Knowing his Ex only two things were possible in my mind; either she was waiting in the garage to kill him or she has killed herself. I relay this information the the deputy, but Rick clearly doesn't want to hear any of this and walks away kind of in a daze.

The other deputy arrives and they discuss how they are going to enter the garage. Eventually they break out the glass in the man door and open it. With guns drawn they yell "SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT!!" Then one deputy stumbles backwards and yells: "Get EMS!"

From behind the truck where I was standing I reply: "I am EMS". The deputy yells: "She's in the car!" I ask: "Is the scene safe?" The deputy replies "Yes, hurry, she's in the car"

Rick starts for the garage and I quickly yell at him to go across the street and I'll talk to him in a second. He caught a glance of her in the car... I wish he hadn't.

As I rush to the garage I notice the car still running with a garden hose from the exhaust pipe to the drivers window, one of the deputys breaks out the passenger side window and unlocks the door, he leans over and cuts the ignition. As he jumps out of the way I'm yelling for him to open the garage door or we are all gonna be in trouble. I jump in the car and grab her, prepared to pull her out onto the garage floor and work her. As I touched her arm I knew. She had been gone for several hours. Lividity has set in and she was very ridged. No pulse, no respirations.

I exit the garage just as the local squad is pulling up. They go to the patient with a monitor and confirmed what I told them on arrival.

Now, I have been on several calls like this. I would like to believe that I knew what to expect. The truth of the matter though... It's all very different when you know the people involved. It's very hard to maintain a professional distance when the people grieving are your friends.

The first question on everyone's mind was "Where was the little girl?" The deputys checked every inch of the vehicle and were confident in saying that she was not in the car. Rick called the family, informed them of the situation and found out his daughter was with them.

As the sheriff's department was processing the scene they had a lot of questions for everyone. It felt like we were there 100 hours. Rick was still across the street and he had been joined by a friend of ours and eventually my girl-friend showed up there too. They were all doing what they could do to try and keep him calm during the investigation.

The scene was elaborately set up. She had went to great lengths to make sure no one would be able to enter that garage. The windows were blocked, the garage doors were unplugged and she had secured the dead-bolt, which Rick never had a key to.

There was much more, but to tell you the truth I really don't want to have to relive it. I might add more to this post later, but right now it's all still very vivid.

Some times when you think you have seen it all, the EMS gods look down and say: "What about this Mr. Confident?... Deal with this"



capnmedic said...

Well bud I have sympathy for you. It does deal a blow to the ego needed to be an EMS professional. It will make you second guess yourself and I gaurantee you will not look at "pink slipped" patients the same. It has with me and I have found myself thinking what could I have done so that my situation could have ended differently. It does humble you and causes you to take a step back and rethink what you say and some of the off color remarks we make with regaurds to our patients. Keep the faith. It gets better.

Anonymous said...
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Kelsey said...

Bummer. How are you doing? Had a Heroin OD DOA the other day. It kind of screws with you. I'm kind of where you're at right now. BLOG :) I want to hear about it.

Kelsey said...

Hey- you still alive?

corcaroli said...

Hey dog! Hope you don't mind I read your sort of private blog. But I did enjoy it. For some reason I'm very interested in EMS work - yes, I did this dinky first responder course and went to the local Rescue Squad and rode around with them, and it was neat. I like to help people.
Anyway, thanks for your blog comments, I really wanted to get more into the life of what it would be like if I were to take up EMS instead of Construction Management, or even on a part time basis.
Keep having fun and doing a great job.

sheri said...

When you first start out, it bother s you to see the pt like it be car wreck, self inflicted, whatever the case. they say it gets easier, and it much... i rarely get excited about anything....It somewhat scares me. I always second guess if I have done the right thing, or could i have done it better.... but in the either turns out really good, or bad..... Life in EMS...well, Its just plain different!