In Short: Awesome.
My wife and I are volunteer medics in our rural community, and were awakened by my pager on a Sunday morning at 1:04 a.m. The report: a 50-year-old man, unconscious, about 5 miles away from our house.
As the garage door rolled up, an update came from dispatch: “CPR in progress.”
As we rolled we discussed our plan: Kit would go in first and take over CPR — whoever was doing it would be tired! — while I got equipment. Based on his location it would take 10 minutes to get there …and the ambulance would be about 20 minutes behind that. His chances for survival were very low.
I stopped out front and Kit bolted. I was less than 30 seconds behind. The man’s daughter had done CPR while we were on the way, keeping him going until Kit took over.
While getting the story and the man’s medical history, I set up the defibrillator; it uses sticky pads instead of paddles, but it’s the same idea as what you see on TV. Kit knew to keep going while I worked the machine. She leaned out of my way, but still kept pumping on his chest while I stuck on the pads, and then stopped while the machine checked to see if a shock was in order: there has to be a “shockable rhythm” for it to help.
And luckily, we had a chance to save him.
I made sure Kit was not touching him. While the defibrillator charged we both made sure the man’s daughter also knew to not touch him. We got her nod, and I hit the button.
On TV, the person getting shocked does a little jump. In real life he jumps — a violent convulsion (if he’s lucky: that indicates tissues haven’t started dying from lack of oxygen). Our guy nearly came up off the floor!
And …it worked: his heart started again. We got a pulse.
I still had to breathe for him (with a respirator), but after a few minutes he started breathing again.
But he was still unconscious …and the ambulance was still 15 minutes away. I started an I.V. so the paramedic could get stabilizing drugs in quickly.
That’s hardly the end: we still have to get him to the hospital! The ambulance crew needed extra hands so I jumped on board. Kit picked me up when we got back, and we talked about every aspect of what happened until nearly dawn.
A few days later I was writing when the phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number, but I answered anyway. The caller said his name, and it took me a second to realize who it was: our patient — he wanted to say thanks.
He not only had lived, he had no brain damage or other deficits. I asked if we could come visit, he was pleased to agree. He’s a good guy who’s grateful he gets to watch his grandkids grow up. And every time he happens to see me in public he comes over to shake my hand, so that awesome feeling washes over me all over again.—
Randy Cassingham is WiLt’s head writer and publisher. His flagship publication This is True, established in 1994, is the oldest entertainment feature on the Internet.
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