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Stories from the Ambulance
This is a discussion on Stories from the Ambulance within the First Aid and Medical Preparedness forums, part of the Survivalist, Prepper, Bushcrafter, Forest Rangers category; Not really a prepping related thread, but I had an interesting call last week that I wanted to share. Might post more interesting calls in ...
Post By warrior4
Post By sideKahr
Stories from the Ambulance
Not really a prepping related thread, but I had an interesting call last week that I wanted to share. Might post more interesting calls in the future. Also all names have been changed in this story including my own.
"What's the worst thing you've ever seen?" It's a question I get asked a lot when people find out I'm a Paramedic. I can't say I blame them. In today's world of super action movies and TV shows combined with the near ceaseless news of tragedy after tragedy people want to know if real life is truly like what they see on TV or the internet. Personally I really don't like that question, to many negative emotions and memories. I will tell you about one of the best things I've seen though.
Last Sunday night started like many others. Get in early, check out the truck, make sure my equipment is where I want it, etc. I'm not even officially on duty yet when the call goes out. "Priority three, (lowest response priority we have meaning no lights and sirens and no backup from the Fire Department) PD on scene requesting for a detox." The police department has been dispatched to an intoxicated person who hasn't broken the law so they can't go to jail, but they're not able to take care of themselves so this person can't be left alone either. That's where I come in.
Shortly later I put the truck in park and call on scene while putting on my exam gloves. A Police Officer walks out to meet us and tells us inside is, "Mary." Mary has been drinking vodka out of the half gallon container and last night took a razor to her wrists. A simple drunk who needs a place to sleep off their hangover just became someone who now truly needs more advanced help. The officer escorts my partner, the student riding with us, and myself into Mary's kitchen.
Looking around Mary's kitchen is what one might expect. Faded wall paper, trash on the floor, dirty dishes piling up in the sink, mismatched tables and chairs, the odor of alcohol lingering in the air is unmistakable, and there sitting at the table is Mary herself. The Police duty Sergeant is standing across the table from her.
"Hi there," I say trying to sound calm and cheerful, "What's going on today?" Mary looks up at me through the fog of alcohol wrapped around her mind and mutters she doesn't know. "How's your breathing doing?"
"Fine," she says.
"Does anything hurt?" She shakes her head no.
"Have you had anything to drink tonight?" She nods.
"Only a couple sips," she says though the slurring of her words gives away just how large those sips may have been.
"Can I check your pulse?" Mary offers me her hand and I push up her sweatshirt sleeve to reveal the marks the Police Officer had foretold. Tracing up both of the inside of her arms are 5-6 scabbed over lacerations. Most fairly superficial, but one or two will need stitches. Mary's pulse is strong, regular, and at a normal rate. There's no active bleeding, and there's no respiratory distress. But there's a lot more to health than normal vitals signs.
Mary is none to pleased when the I tell her that she's going to have to come with me to the hospital. She screams out that she wants to see her husband and isn't going anywhere till she can. Looking at the Sergeant we know what to do. We help Mary to her feet and walk her outside to my ambulance. Mary sits down on my cot and we strap on her seat belt while the student starts to put a blood pressure cuff on her arm. The doors to the Ambulance are open where the Police have brought Mary's husband to the scene.
"Mark!" Mary screams out the door. "Mark!" I have no idea if that her husbands name or if she just saw the name on my name badge and latched onto the word, but I calmly say, "Yes, what do you need?"
"I'm right here Mary, what can I help you with?" Something cuts through the fog of booze and lodges in Mary's mind and she looks up at me. "What?"
"You called Mark, that's my name. What can I do to help you."
In the pause that follows my partner and the student report the rest of Mary's vital signs are normal and I tell them we can start heading to the hospital. The doors close and we're off.
Sitting down next to Mary I ask her, "So tell me what happened today. How did you get these cuts on your wrists?"
Mary's eyes, brim with tears as she starts to tell me how a few days ago her brother had shot her dog. How her dog had been a good dog and how she missed him. The student and I wrap her wrists with gauze and wipe her eyes with tissues. The angry woman from three minutes ago is gone. What's left is a scared crying lady, desperately clinging to my arm. I've felt that grip before. It's the grip of someone who is drowning. Who is searching frantically for anything solid to hold onto just to keep her head above water. Someone who has been kicking against the waves of life and is tired. And now for ten minutes she's gotten the rest. My arm is a life preserver and she doesn't have to kick. I can see the weight lift off her shoulders as her body sags as I wipe more tears away.
Mary only lets go when I tell her I need to call the hospital to let them know we're coming. As soon as I hang up the radio and sit down next to her again that grip is back. It's there as we wheel her into the Emergency Department, and as I give the Nurse the turn over report. Before I leave to go I turn one more time to Mary.
"These doctors and nurses are very good and they'll take good care of you. I really hope you get better soon." That grip is still there as Mary reaches out to me one more time and gives me a hug and says, "Thank you."
I don't know what happened to Mary. It's part of the reality of EMS. We're only with our patients for a short time. People sometimes ask me why I do what I do. I do it for all the Mary's out there, who just need a life preserver, a rock to cling to, the safe harbor from the storm. It's the responsibility I carry when I put on my uniform and call in service for the night. It's a call like that, that makes me proud to be a Paramedic.
Thank you for that, warrior4. That was truly inspiring.
I had a 'Mary' from my days in the volunteer Ambulance Service, also. She used to call at 3 in the morning, "difficulty breathing", and my girl friend and I would calmly drive down and get in the vehicle. It was Mary, and it wasn't an emergency.
Mary was a shut-in. She had a amputated leg, was on constant O2 at two liters and smoked like a stove, and none of her kids paid her any attention. We'd put her in the stair chair to get her out of the 3 floor walk-up apartment building she lived in, get her downstairs, and on the way to the E.R. and all the while Mary was gawking around and talking a mile-a-minute.
She was just lonely, and hadn't been outside in weeks. She wanted to see the snow; the nurses at the hospital who all knew her. We all felt sorry for her. We'd go back to the barn, wait around for a while until we got the call for the transport, then go get her. Then we'd go back home and try to get a few hours of sleep before we had to get up for work.
We were all a little poorer when we heard that Mary had died.
Last edited by sideKahr; 04-19-2016 at 02:16 PM.
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