Every now and then something happens on a job at scene that makes you despair of the so called human race. What turns normal peoples thought processes into acts of sheer stupidity or mindless moronism (not sure if that word exists but it sounds apt!)
At approximately 1030 on a sunny morning we found ourselves called to a collapse with no further details. On arriving scene we were met by a supermarket assistant manager who quickly explained that staff were carrying out CPR.
Collecting all our kit, resus bag, monitor/defib, drugs bag, we made our way into the supermarket and quickly located the aisle where our patient was. We could see that the two members of staff were carrying out good effective CPR which gave us time to get our kit ready.
My crew-mate started to ventilate the patient who was a male in his fifties/early sixties, using the bag & mask attached to the O2 cylinder. Switching the defib/monitor on I quickly placed the paddles on the patients chest and monitored through the paddles to see what rhythm his heart was in.
This showed VF (ventricular fibrillation where the heart muscle is quivering due to the electrical impulses firing off all over the heart in a totally chaotic way). Defib pads were placed quickly on the patients chest and the paddles charged up. The first shock reverted the VF to asystole (flat line, not normally a good prognosis).
Chest compressions and ventilations were continued whilst I gained IV access in the patients arm for the cardiac drugs which he would need. All I needed to do next was gain full control of the patients airway by endotracheal intubation (passing a tube through the trachea to the lungs which gives protection from aspiration of vomit and better O2 saturation).
This was done within 15 seconds and ventilations could be done automatically now with our resuscitator. It was at this point I called a stop to the compressions so I could look through the paddles again. This is were it all got strange…a little bit surreal…a little bit mad.
From behind me I felt someone pushing me gently to one side. At almost the same time a hand, followed by a arm, reached past my shoulder from behind. Having to turn to regain my balance and locate the source of my shoving I found myself staring into the eyes of a man on a mission.
“What the frig are you doing?” I asked in as much of a professional manner as possible. He looked at me as if I was mad and that I was purposefully in his way. “I need to get to the beans!” he replied. “Cant you see we,re trying to save someones life?” I shouted and pointed to our patient on the floor beneath the shelves of tinned goods.
“But all I want is a couple of tins…!” Luckily the manager saw what was happening and grabbed this fool and dragged him out of our way. We continued with CPR and administered cardiac drugs. VF was evident again and another shock was delivered via the defib. This time a rhythm appeared on the screen with a palpable carotid pulse.
We lifted the patient onto the stretcher and into the truck all the while watching for any changes. Shortly before arrival at the A/E the patient started to make his own respiratory effort and I extubated him. Last I heard he was making good progress in CMU (cardiac monitoring unit).
As for the shopper and his beans…I hope he reflected on what he did, but I guess he wont as too many people live in their own little world and stuff everyone else!
This does happen from time to time. Every crew will have a tale of someone getting in the way. It still infuriates me that people wont wait….I,m off for a lie down in a quiet corner.