Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Pain Of Living.

In the course of doing our job we see plenty of horrible things. Some things you literally wish you could "Un-See". It's all part of that sacrifice we make to try and force a difference in the outcome of people's lives. The general public should never have to see these things.

An old paramedic once told me "Son, God made EMTs to give him a chance to change his mind but you have to remember that he does not always change his mind". It's those words that help me through the rough calls. What solace does the layperson have in those troubling moments?

I was thinking of this my last shift when we had probably the most horrible motorcycle accident I have ever witnessed.

We were posted across town on a special event when the alarm dropped. Our other unit was about 2 minutes away from the accident and they had an extra crew member so it was not likely myself and my partner would be called. Well, at least that's what I thought as I sat in my lawn chair sipping a cold cola and nibbling on fair food.

They had to have been on scene for about 30 seconds when the second alarm dropped and my partner and I packed up our chairs and raced to the scene.

On arrival I was pretty astounded by the lack of scene control. The road was sufficiently blocked off and there damn sure were plenty of cops there but no one seemed to have a handle on all the gawkers. It was very hard for me to determine who was involved in the accident and who was just standing around.

I send my partner to help the crew working on the motorcycle driver and I proceed to beat the bushes, so to speak, to find any other patients. I turn up empty, the driver of the car was uninjured and in police custody.

Making my way back to the trauma patient I see at least 2 maybe 3 people weeping so hard they can barely stand. As I survey the motorcycle driver I see he is being aggressively worked by my guys so I think I would be most useful trying to calm the bystanders. With the assistance of a couple police officers we get all of them off the road and over to the grass where I can try and answer any questions to the best of my ability.

They were screaming "He's dead, I know he's dead" I replied with the standard: "Everything that can be done is being done" they were not buying it. I knew he was a trauma arrest and his chances were very slim, but how do you tell that to people? You just kind of bite your lip and hope for the best.

Someone had used a whole roll of paper towels trying to stop the blood pouring from this guys face and head. What had been going through their mind when they were doing that? What horrible visions are they having today every time they close their eyes? They pile more and more paper towels on and the blood never stops. Finally EMS arrives and things are moving very quickly for them. It must seem like a nightmare, a painful visage that can not shake even with all of the light of a noon day.

I think I was most concerned with the driver of the car. How would he live with the knowledge of taking a life? The police would not let us near him, but I was worried that he was in shock so I went and talked to the Sargent. He made a few wild hand gestures and I was allowed access to the driver. He was literally destroyed with guilt. He wanted to know if the guy was going to make it. I'm sure you know how I replied: "Everything that can be done is being done".

It was a traumatic arrest and all of us know the odds are greater than 1 in 100,000. The guys worked and worked securing an airway, then stabilized his spine and neck. Into the truck he went and they left. My partner and I were left to collect the equipment from the scene and bag up all the biomass for disposal.

We were told later that he regained his heart beat after a couple rounds of Epi and Atropine in the truck. He was delivered to the ER with a pulse. I was very proud that, the guys were on cloud nine!

6 hours later, when his heart stopped and he was pronounced dead at the trauma center we were all in shock. It's not fair we said. He beat the odds! HE BEAT THE ODDS! How could he die after surviving such a horrible accident? How could God let this happen?

Son, God does not always change his mind.


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