When everything goes right and a life goes on

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When everything goes right and a life goes on
Firemen from Navy Mid-Atlantic Region Fire and Rescue Team treat the wounds of Sailors posing as victims of a simulated C-2A Greyhound plane crash during a crash, fire and rescue drill held on Naval Station Norfolk. 24 July 2007. Photo credit: U.S. Navy

By John Morse

When people decide they want to be a firefighter, paramedic or any other rescue type worker they picture themselves going to work every day and performing daring rescues and carrying people from burning buildings. In the real world those things don’t happen every day.  They actually are pretty rare.  There will be a few days in your career when everything goes right.  When that happens there is no question why you decided to be a firefighter.

A call last week reminded me why we all get into this field.  We were presented with a rather young man ( 50’s), who fell to the floor in front of his family and went into full cardiac and respiratory arrest. As we began treating the patient his family was calling to him from the next room telling him to fight and not give up.  We all were aware of the patient’s condition and those of us working on him knew the odds of him responding to our treatment were slim.  After a little CPR, and a couple shocks from a defibrillator the man’s heart began beating and he began gasping for air.  Before he arrived at the hospital he was able to answer some simple questions.  Three days after that he was released from the hospital with a prescription.

It is these calls that really make you feel you are there for a reason.  There are a lot of things about this call that make it special.  Of course we are always excited when our treatment or service brings a positive outcome, but this one had a few aspects that made it extra special.  Probably on the top of the list is the fact that this man still has a long productive life ahead of him.  In some situations the patient survives but isn’t able to return to a normal life.  Many patients that recover from a cardiac arrest have suffered some level of brain damage and won’t be able to function as well as before their incident.

The family talking to him from the next room certainly added a different dimension to the call.  I don’t think I have ever seen anything like that before.  When the patient began to regain consciousness it was very gratifying to know that the family would be able to bring their family back together and not be dealing with the life changes when you lose a spouse or father.

I don’t know if it is fair to compare a sporting event to an incident, but to our crew on this call that evening we won the Super Bowl.  There were no trophies or press conferences, but we sure had some excited discussions among us for the next couple days.  I hope you all get the opportunity to share a few of these calls with your crews.  There is nothing that compares to those calls where everything goes right.


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