Not The Average Hospital Transport
In 1999 I was in the midst of transporting a cardiac patient from a small rural hospital to a larger hospital that was more capable of taking care of their particular cardiac problem. The patient seemed relatively stable, was alert and oriented, and was in no pain. The only diagnosis that the small hospital was able to produce was occasional PVCs and some rhythm irregularities.
Our trip was to take about an hour, and heading out, it seemed like just another ordinary inter-hospital transport. About 10 miles on to the interstate, we started to hear some chatter on the radio. Something about an officer needing assistance, but we could not make out a location, and there was no report of what sort of problem had occurred. Suddenly, we noticed a state trooper along the interstate and he had another vehicle pulled over. As we got closer, we noticed another trooper running through the median to flag us down.
We pulled to the side to see what the problem was, and the trooper advised us that another trooper had been hit by a passing car while writing a ticket to a motorist. I contacted the ER and they advised we could hold their and assist, instead of continuing onward to our destination.
I stayed in the ambulance with my patient, and my EMT driver/partner hopped out to assist the officer. A couple of minutes later, my partner returned and asked for me to send more help, and advised the officer was critical. I sent word to dispatch and my partner returned to his patient with supplies. It would be about 5-10 minutes before another ambulance would be able to arrive.
While looking out the rear doors of the ambulance toward my partner to try and get an idea of the patient condition, it becomes apparent to me that my patient is tapping my leg with his foot. I turned to look and noticed my patient struggling to breathe. A quick glance to the heart monitor and I see the patient is in Ventricular Tachycardia. Emotions and desperation suddenly took a while new direction. I am sitting on the edge of the interstate, my patient is about to arrest, and my partner is too busy with the injured officer to be of any assistance.
I began to treat my patient, and he did go into cardiac arrest. About the same time, my partner sent the other officer to my truck to ask for my assistance. I notified the officer of the happenings and he quickly turned away and returned to my partner to deliver the bad news.
Three shocks, and 30 seconds of compressions later, my patient has a pulse return. I hung appropriate meds, and started on the phone to the ER. Meanwhile, a second ambulance arrived and we now have help. I quickly grabbed a new driver, and we returned toward the original hospital. While enroute, I hear a helicopter is arriving to help with the trooper and a second helicopter being called to meet at the ER with myself to pick up my patient.
Later that evening, like all emergency workers, we all sat around to reminisce about what had occurred. A normal inter-hospital transport, something we had done a thousand times a year, suddenly became a life or death manner for my patient and a police officer.
Reports on both patients came back that evening. Both patients would survive, and neither was expected to suffer any long term consequences. It was a run I would not soon forget.