During a rather lengthy stretch of time on the ambulance, my partner and I got a little competitive. I had one of those during a three day shift. My partner, an EMS Manager, was telling me all the things that we could be doing and should be doing and how fast she could do them, and I, being the ever diligent subordinate, sat and listened intently. Really I was thinking…”I bet I can do this quicker than you”. I might have mentioned that out loud…and the competition began.
We had been running non stop during the 72 hour shift and a little sleep deprivation was creeping into our brains. But true to our calling as EMT’s, we kept going for the sake of “our community” and self preservation! One of the last calls we received that day was a “man down” call on a farm about five miles from where we were at the time. I cinched the seat belt down and my partner hit the gas. We made record time getting to the scene, thank God traffic was light! As we pulled up to the scene, we saw the man lying on the ground with a younger lady holding his head. We marked out on the scene and I jumped from my rig with my O2, kit and defibrillator pack. I checked for pulses and found none, secured and airway, hooked up the defib. The machine showed a “course v-fib”, so I proceeded to deliver a shock to the older, pale lifeless man, and prayed for the best. I had done this so many times in the past, it was like second nature. At this point I thought something had gone wrong with my defibrillator. I checked everything and found nothing wrong. “What is going on”, I asked myself. I have done this many times in the past and never had a “regular” heart rhythm show up on the machine. I checked…wow…”I’ve got a pulse”, I exclaimed to my partner. She checked and just smiled. We continued to deliver oxygen to the man throughout the transport and turned him over to the emergency department staff with no problems.
I went to write my report and got all my information gathered up. My partner walked in with times from the run and looked at me. She said, “one minute”. I asked, “One minute, what”? She told me it was one minute from the time we marked on scene until the time I delivered the first “shock” on my patient. I sat there and thought, man that was quick. I smiled to myself thinking about our “competition “, and had to ask her if she had any quicker ones. She looked at me and told me she didn’t think the defibrillator turned on that quick. “Looks like I win that one, huh”? She smiled and said, “Yup, you won, but the competition wasn’t between you and me”. I asked her what she was talking about. She looked at me and told me. “He is alive”. Wow, I never thought of it like that. We got there, did what we were supposed to do and it worked!
I saw that man later, once he got out of the hospital. It made me thank God that I was able to help him and his family continue on with their lives. He continued to farm and live a productive life for several more years. I read later he passed away at the ripe old age of 88. I have since left the Emergency Medical Technician behind for a career in law enforcement, but I never will forget the time I took on my biggest competition and beat it!
By Richard, EMT