Archives for September 2, 2010

Teardrops on my Trauma Shears

Warning: Unfortunately, Sad things happen in EMS.  Some see us as the heralds of death; we are there when someone has taken their last breath.  EMT’s and Medics across the country have been involved in these such moments; the last breath of an entrapped accident victim, the elderly patient who is having trouble breathing who gasps one last time, or the newborn infant fresh from the womb who has never taken a breath. 

We deal with death and its finality on a regular, almost constant basis.  When we deliver the bad news, we may seem like we don’t care, but, we do, we just can’t show it like you can.  We are the rocks you hang onto, but every so often, it slips through and our shell breaks.  This is a replay of one of those moments where the sadness was incredible, was palpable, and I and my crew had to hold on…

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New Years Day.  I’m awake and making coffee.  I am scheduled off in a little under a half an hour, but the local restaraunts are closed.  I want to give the oncoming crew breakfast so that they have one less thing to worry about while they deal with those who partied just a little too hard last night.  My phone ringing startles me out of my moment and I pick it up.  My relief calls; he won’t be in, and he doesn’t give a reason.  I call my boss, waking her up to get her on the ball for calling in someone.  I was up all night running, and I knew my mind was shot; I would be no help to anyone if I was awake for any longer than necessary.

I stood out on the front porch of the station, lighting a cigarette.  I watched the smoke curl off into the sky when I felt my phone vibrate.  The theme song for Rescue 911 went off.  Text, I thought to myself.  No one of any importance would text me this early in the morning, so I ignored it.  I heard a police car go screaming into the distance, followed by the fire department squad. 

Odd…

I go back inside as I see my partner writing something down and trying to get dressed at the same time.

“Shao?! SHAO!?”

“What!?”  He turns, the phone falling from his hands as he drags me out the door, “AMY!”  He calls for the Medic student.  She comes stumbling out, trying to get dressed as well.  I feel like I’m left out of something big.

“Baby not breathing!”

My heart stops, my world goes silent.  I look at my partner, my eyes wide.  He pulls me to the ambulance, snapping me out of my thoughts.  Amy hops in back.  I grab my phone and look at it; the text was a CAD page.  They did a silent dispatch so that everyone in scanner land didn’t show up on the scene.  Too many “good calls” had been responded to by not only public safety, but by everyone in the small community.  The order was handed down that any bad call be called into the station or to the Senior crew members’ cell phone.  The oncoming dispatcher called the easiest number to remember, the station.  I sat in the ambulance, looking through my protocol book.  My mind was racing, and I was trying to focus on the resucitation.  In my mind, this could only end one way; a full, PALS (Pediatric Advanced Life Support) authorized resucitation that ended in a save. 

“Bring the house bag, monitor, and Oxygen.  I’m on the tube, you,” I pointed to my partner, “get that IO in, Amy, start compressions and put the monitor on.”  We rounded the corner to the apartment building.  As we stepped out the truck, I heard a wail coming from above; the night being unseasonably warm, people had their windows open.  We ran to the front door and tried to open it; it wouldn’t budge.  We pounded on the door, pressed buzzer buttons, everything.  What seemed like hours, which were only mere seconds passed before someone got the door open for us.  We couldn’t take the steps, but someone had the elevator waiting for us.  We hopped in, tapping our feet, trying to get the elevator to go faster.  My mouth was dry; I felt like throwing up right there.  Amy already had tears in her eyes.  Her brand new baby was only 4 months old, the same age as the child we were about to try and save. 

The elevator doors opened, and we followed the wail to the open door.  I burst through, the pediatric BVM in my hand.  I recognized the family; I had just helped to usher in the little one who we were there for into the world a few short months prior.  Mum and baby were in the bathroom, and she held her tiny, lifeless body to hers,  screaming and wailing.

“My baby! My baby! My baby!”

“Ma’am! Give me the baby!”

“No!”

She refused to relinquish hold of her child.  I reached down and grabbed the infant in my hands and I gently tugged the little girl from her arms.  Picking up the child, I looked at her face and stopped.  The infant was stiff in my hands, dried, bloody purge smeared across her face.  Her nose was smashed against her face.  Her body was rigored into a gruesome position.  I held the child in my arms and I backed up against a wall, sliding down.  There was absolutely nothing I could do.  I sat on the floor, holding the infant, feeling my face becoming wet with tears.  I looped my stethoscope into my ears and listened for something I knew I wouldn’t find.

“No…heart beat…” I said softly.  I listened over the belly and then over the chest.  “No lung sounds. No code…”  I couldn’t get the words from my mouth.  The infant I held in my arms should not be gone.  She should be alive, not dead.  I should be cooing to her as we made our way to the truck, the small child having had a choking incident on some saliva.  I’d be playing with her, holding the end of the oxygen tube near her mouth as she reached out to hold my pinkie finger.  I should not be on the phone with medical command pronouncing a four month old child.

Everyone around me waited for me to say something.  I was in a tiny bathroom, holding a tiny child in my arms.  Mum had been lead out of the room by one of the responding officers. The apartment was full of people, children and adults.  Holding the child, I stood up with her in my arms, and I walked out of the bathroom.  I looked for where the child slept, and I saw a childs’ blankey on the corner of a bed.  I laid the child down, covering her with the blanket.  I stood up, composing myself.

“Ma’am…”  I turned around, walking to the mother. I knelt down, holding her hands.  “I’m sorry.  There was nothing we could do.  She’s dead.”

The wail.  The primordial sound that comes from loved ones who are near at the moment of death.  She ran to her child, picking her up, holding her, and I didn’t stop her.  Everyone around me cried openly; my partners, the cops, everyone, yet I stood by, emotionless on the outside, completely dead on the inside.  With the cops on scene, I could slip away to the ambulance for a moment to collect my thoughts.  I grabbed my smokes from my breast pocket and lit up.  With the first breath I almost broke down into sobs, yet somehow I controlled myself. 

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I went home and sat on my front porch, trying to wrap my head around the morning.  I added the pain to the previous years of pain I had experienced so far.  I have seen things that would rock a normal persons’ world; hell even my strongest friends shy away from my work stories.  Going through Medic class, I busted my ass.  I was working…a lot…an 80+ hour a week with classes, precepting, and a job. Initially, I had no one to talk to; my family had no medical training and could barely listen to my tame stories let alone the bad ones.  My co-workers were the same as myself; they’d offer an ear, but if it hit too close to home, the subject would change. 

It took me hitting my emotional amd mental rock bottom for me to get the help I needed. I came off the trucks for a little over three months.  In that time I learned a lot about myself, stuff I needed to learn for myself and to help others.  I’m not saying I’m completely fixed, but it makes the harder calls a bit easier to deal with.  No longer do I not cry over the deaths of others, I let my tears flow. No longer do I not talk to someone; I have been lucky to find several partners who have dealt with more of these sad moments than I have who are willing to talk to me, letting me air out all the details within the constraints of HIPPA.

In closing, I hope that those who are also in the field who have feelings like both Life Under The Lights, and I, have had someone that they could go to and talk to before you get as bad as I have. 

Have fun, and most of all, be safe out there,

~M. Trommashere~

Dear Southern Style Granite…

Dear Southern Style Granite,

I’ve seen your name pop up in my parusal of various sites, and I wanted to write you to tell you of my interest in your company.  At the same time, I feel as if I should tell you about myself before I arrive.  I’m a 24 year old, African American/Native American.  My father was Cherokee, my Mother was black.  I will probably come in with my Caucasian friend; He’s Italian/Irish/Scotch/and a bunch of other things mixed in.  Now, I am in the market for good, Southern Style Granite tables and counter-tops.  I need them to be pretty strong…if you know what I mean. 😉

I want to cook and serve food on them for my friends.  I have several homosexual couples who come by my home on a regular basis to eat, drink, and just hang around.  Sometimes, they may even sit on the counter top, or hell even touch them.  Every so often, touching between two people of the same sex happens.  I guess I should let you know ahead of time that I’ve kissed a few girls in my past…both sober and not.  My friend has hugged other men, and he’s even held the hand of another man.  I don’t wish to bore you with the details of how he did such because he was trying to comfort someone in their time of need…you just need to know his male hand touched the flesh of another man, and that my female flesh has touched the flesh of another female.

Oh yeah…orgies don’t bother me…(Thanks Rogue Medic!)

Now, my friend and I understand that you do not approve of homosexuals.  That’s fine…if that’s how you choose to do your business, but I am appalled that, in this day and age, you would discriminate against someone for something as simple as who someone chose to fall in love with.   What else do you discriminate against? Black People, Muslims, Asians, whatever you have low-battery induced rage at for that day?   I hope against all hope that those who read my blog as well as:

Ambulance Driver, Rogue Medic, Robert J. Wilson, Bullet Points, TOTWTYTR, The Supersonic Reflectoscope, Of Mule Dung and Ash, The EMT Spot, American Atheist, Weird and Pissed Off, and several other ones that can be found on Rogue Medics’ site, will repost and distribute this information to others.  While I am all for being able to run your business the way the owners feel and see fit, there’s a point where someone has gone too far.  You, sirs, have gone too far.

So I and my friend will take our several thousand dollars and go somewhere else where they will treat everyone who walks through their doors equally.

With all respect that you are due, which is none.

~M. Trommashere~