I went to the hospital after one of the other ambulances on shift had just arrived with a pediatric arrest. I didn’t want to go inside, seemed a little overkill, the patient was already on the hospital bed I was sure and there was another unit assisting them. My partner wanted to go in and so I stayed outside the ER.
I saw the ambulance they had transported the patient in had their back doors slightly open and decided to clean up for them a little bit while I waited. Inside I found the usual, boxes of epi, narcan, vials of vasopressin, ET tube wrapping, suction tubing attached to the wall suction, the usual syringes, packs of ky to lubricate the tube as it is placed in the trachea. I saw all of this but I felt what had happened. The male and female paramedics had fought to keep this kid alive, had used narcan as some last ditch effort in case somehow this was an overdose. To breath for someone, to pump their chest in an effort to move blood through their entire body, to face the parents during the moment that will define the rest of their lives. This, all of this is, is not something that is easy to convey.
EMS is truly a job no one can understand until you live it. I can explain to you what I was feeling and thinking as I threw away the remnants of our weapons against death. You can read the words, try to empathize. If you have been in EMS you will know what I am talking about. If you have not there is nothing I can write that can adequately explain it.
They lost the battle. The patient was called in the ER.
The parents come outside and meet with the medics. The father shakes their hand and thanks them for trying, you can almost feel the emotions coursing through his hands. It’s tough to shake the hands of someone you have failed in the most profound of ways. The mother is hugged as she walks away and says, “you have the worst job in the world.”
She’s right you know, in that moment EMS is probably the worst job out there. Some people don’t recover from some deaths. I saw one of the best medics I ever knew leave the field after a bad shift. He said he couldn’t work in a career with so much uncertainty, in a job that showed you the worst of life. As the lady walked away after losing her daughter any words you say will be empty and useless. She can’t know the greatness that EMS can show you. The saves, the lives that are benefited by our work. The compassion that we can show, the ability to lessen someone’s suffering if only for a moment or two.
That medic, on her next shift responded to a female patient in respiratory arrest. They were able to intubate the patient and keep her from coding. The patient was found to be hypotensive and after a bolus she dropped the hammer and started a dopamine drip. The patient was stabilized and is still alive.
We can work in the worst job out there, but because that paramedic still decides to wake up and come in and do her best people are alive today that may not have been. Thank you to her and all of you that continue the struggle, a battle we can never truly win, but damned if we won’t give it a Hell of a fight.