25 July 2006


What kind of calls you get on an ambulance depends on location, luck and time of day. Now that I'm seeing actual 911 calls with the local FD and doing some observation time with the ambulance company, I'm getting a larger variety of calls including the classic chest pain heart attack, the "someone else panicked but I'm really okay" medical calls, and recently, a call that was dispatched as "unknown medical problem" then updated to "unresponsive, not breathing" as we were pulling into the parking lot of the building (which was not any sort of care facility).

We arrived on scene to find a woman on the floor, a cop using his AED (automatic external defibrillator) which was advising not to shock, and some staff members and family members fluttering around. The cop immediately jumped up to get out of the way when the medic I was with came in the door, but the medic laughed and told the cop he was doing fine and to carry on. The woman's face and hands were a deep purple color, her tongue was out of her mouth and had some dried secretions, and she had no pulse. It looked strange to me that her face was dark purple, because usually blood settles to the lowest point, but all became clear when the staff told us that 911 had them roll her over to start CPR so that she'd actually been laying face down since she died.

The story got a little weirder as it turned out that the husband had found her at 15:30 and the 911 call didn't come in until 18:10, but he'd been trying to find one of his kids to help him because he didn't really know what to do. Weird until you hear that the woman was a DNR (do not resuscitate), and thus he didn't want to call the ambulance because he didn't want anyone trying to revive her against her wishes. So who do you call when someone you love is dead, or nearly so, on the floor and doesn't want to be revived? An interesting question and one that all the hospitals pushing "advanced directives" need to start discussing with their patients because the staff all know what to do if someone dies in the hospital but the family members may not know what to do if their loved one dies elsewhere.


Pregnant In Texas said...

You see dead people Wow, it's crazy to think that you were once, not so long ago, a mild mannered, self-proclaimed, office drone. Now look at you! You can spout off acronymns like AED with the best of them. I'm so impressed!!

Anonymous said...

Interesting. Knowing a DNR was in place would you be able to watch someone struggle to live and not help? The body would try to save itself. Self preservation and all that stuff.