Today I had a friend call me and tell me that he lost a patient. It wasn't any patient it was a fellow firefighter that he had worked with at the fire department he is at. This friend is a Fire Fighter/ EMT and knows that he can call me at anytime if he has a rough day. He has said before and again tonight that I'm one of the few people he can call and I'm able to calm him down. I didn't know what to say about this call though I didn't know how to empathize with him other than listen to him talk. He was called out on an unconscious person, and when he showed up the patient was in cardiac arrest. They didn't know who it was of course because only sometimes do we get information about the patient before we get there. The most we get is an age and sex. Well you can imagine his surprise when it ended up being a buddy of his.. 52 yo and dying of a massive heart attack. I have never had a friend or family end up being a patient of mine on a 911 call. I'm not sure what I would do.. I know I would do my job to the best of my ability, but afterwards if they died I would probably break down in a puddle of teary goo..
I was able to calm my friend down enough with my own story of Woah.. which consisted of having a patient with a massive brain bleed 2 days ago. We brought him to the closest band-aid station aka small hospital to get him stabilized and then off to the big ma'am ma jam'a hospital up in Indy. So he could get real treatment for his problem. My guy was 46 yo.. Sadly I don't think he is going to live long enough to see Thanksgiving considering how bad off he was. I was able to meet his wife for the 2 min prior to me driving the ambulance to the hospital with my partner and a fire fighter in the back. He also had 2 teenage sons. It's hard to think that they will be forever affected by what happened that night around this time of year when it's suppose to be joyous.
I'm just glad I have good friends that I can call as well when I have those bad days. And all of my EMT friends can do the same with me. And they all know that. I'm glad I was the first person he called and I know I will have my day where I will have a fellow EMT or EMS employee be my patient and it will truly hit home.
After talking to my friend I started thinking of all the patients I have lost, and some of my regulars that I loved to have as patients, and then later lost. Tears actually welled up in my eyes because of one patient that had touched my heart, and became like a grandma to me. Dialysis runs you get to know your patients inside and out.. and this was my favie. I always loved to see her and the day she died, I cried for a couple hours. This was a woman I was going to bring my son to meet because she was just that close to me, and she even asked 2 days before she died about when I was going to bring him to see her. It's a shame he didn't get to meet this lovely woman. I don't know maybe I'm rambling but I just know that it needs to come out so I don't implode.. It's a good thing that some people don't have to go through what EMT's go through but it's not easy to "just let it all go" Each patient leaves an imprint of themselves on your soul especially when they die on you.
EMT's have a motto.. "No one dies in the back of the ambulance" but I will tell you this.. We know when there is no way the patient is going to survive, it's comes with the job you learn the signs get a gut feeling all of that good stuff. We might not let them die i our trucks but we know when the doc is going to call it as soon as we walk in the ER door.. And we normally get a call later saying yes or no on outcome if we leave before the doc calls it. The job is so hard sometimes and the only people you can call on are those that have lived it. Because this isn't just a job it's a lifestyle. We have our own language, and our own thoughts on life. Because we see the good and the worst of people out there. This poem that my friend DJ DP posted just shows how much we go through in a small view. He is a fellow EMT and sometimes the only person I can think of to call when I have had a bad day. Hope you enjoy.. This poem gives me chills sometimes, I hope it has the same effect on you because it's sooooo true and real. Love you, all my friends
Time in Hell....
The medic stood and faced God Which must always come to pass. He hoped his uniform was clean, He'd gotten dressed kinda fast.
"Step forward now, paramedic.
How shall I deal with you?
Have you always turned the other cheek?
To my church have you been true?"
The medic squared his shoulders and said,
"No Lord I guess I ain't,
cause those of us who wade in blood,
can't always be a saint.
I've had to work most Sundays,
and at times my talk was tough.
And at times I've been violent,
cause the streets are awful rough.
But I never took a penny
that wasn't mine to keep...
although I worked alot of overtime,
when the bills got too steep.
And I never passed a cry for help,
though at times I shook with fear.
And sometimes, God forgive me,
I wept unmanly tears.
I know I don't deserve a place
among the people here.
They never wanted me around,
except to calm their fears.
If you have a place for me, Lord,
It needn't be so grand.
I never expected or hand too much,
But if you don't I understand."
There was silence all around the throne,
where saints had often trod.
As there medic waited quietly
for the judgment of his God.
"Step forward now, paramedic.
You've borne your burdens well.
Walk peacefully on heavens streets.
You've done your time in hell."