Highs and Very, Very Lows…!!!


The Pathway Back to Life...

The Pathway Back to Life...

The night shift started with our first job…‘male, unconscious, not breathing’. Two minutes after booking onto the shift we were heading towards one of the estates edging my patch. En route control updates us ‘CPR advice being given to the family, RRV arriving scene!’

My crew mate gives it a bit more leather on the accelerator. Blues and twos are helping us to wend our way through the evening traffic but still we come up against the occasional idiot who thinks he owns the road and will not yield. This makes us slow down having to circumnavigate the clown who gives us ‘the look’ as we pass him!

Soon we are at the top of the street but we are further slowed down because of the speed bumps. Eventually after scaling several of these tarmac hills we pull up outside the address. The RRV is parked outside and there are members of the family running around flapping…not a good sign.

We dash into the house and are met by two women consoling each other and pointing to a door…‘Hes in there!‘  Opening the door we find the RRV pilot doing CPR on a collapsed male. I can see that there is vomit everywhere around the head end. The RRV pilot is covered in it! Grabbing hold of the collapsed male we turn him onto his side and using the #1 suction unit (index finger) we sweep out the worst of the vomit from his mouth.

Getting him onto his back the RRV pilot recommences chest compressions and ‘bags’ the patient whilst we set up the defib/monitor. A quick look through the paddles of the defib shows VF (ventricular fibrilliation where the heart rattles and shakes like a bag of worms) and I shock him once telling the RRV pilot to crack on with a minutes worth of chest compressions straight after. Another look at the monitor and checking for pulses reveals that we have a good cardiac output. 

His heart is beating but he is still not breathing for himself. Whilst my crew mate inserts a line and sets up an IV, I intubate the patients airway first time and connect him to our automatic resuscitator. Although I have to ly in the patients vomit to do this I think that things are looking good. After less than a minute the patient  makes some attempt at respiratory effort.

We put the call into the A/E resus and we take our patient in ‘on the light’. Handing over to the team in A/E the prognosis for our patient seems to be getting better by the minute. It will be a matter of time to see if there is any neurological damage if he does regain consciousness…but the signs are good. The chain of survival has helped.

After cleaning our truck and equipment we grab some fluid replacement in the form of a cuppa and reflect on the job we have just done. It went well…it makes a change to get one back, to deny the reaper his quota for the day. Now its back to station for cover. A couple of minutes later after setting off for our base station the MDT squawks into life again. ’20 year old male, nosebleed’  Its back to normal then!

For the rest of the shift it is a relentless procession of inappropriate jobs that should be dealt with by GPs or even themselves. How hard is it to take a ‘Lemsip’ for a cold?  The nights darkness is tempered by the high spirits we are still in from our first job…plus the job we attend where the ‘patient’ thinks he is having a stroke makes us laugh. He has been asleep and woke up to use the toilet only to find his left arm would not work!  After a few tests and a couple of questions we find out why his arm went dead…hes been sleeping on it! Pins and needles…nothing more!

Coming towards the end of our night shift we are driving back through the city centre heading for base. Only half an hour to go…then its back home to snuggle up in a nice warm bed and sleep. My eyes are closing and my head is doing the bobbing thing as I momentarily dream of dreaming. I’m just glad its not my drive. My crew mate is just as knackered as I am but hes now ‘vehicle commander’ and has to get us both back safely.

‘Squawk, squawk f*****g b******d squawk!!!’ goes our MDT screen. ‘Bollocks! Bollocks! and b******d bollocks!’ go us. The dispatcher comes on the radio….‘I’m really sorry lads but you’re the nearest crew…and I’m really sorry but its a baby not breathing!’  The swearing stops and the complaining from us abates. We switch on and head out to the other side of the city hoping against hope that its a false alarm!  

Minutes later we are pulling up to the address. I can see through the front window a woman holding a baby in her arms and screaming! Another woman is out in the street running towards us! My heart sinks even further, its not a false alarm! All thought of sleep has vanished and the adrenaline is kicking in big time! I grab the resus bag from the truck and dive into the house.

Mum is stood there screaming at me to help and clutching the lifeless, grey baby its eyes surrounded by a bluish, reddish tinge. Trying to control mum and my own emotions I gently ease the baby out of mums arms and place the baby onto the settee. No pulse, no breathing…the baby is dead. But we still try…bagging the baby with our smallest face mask and using only finger tips or thumbs for chest compressions. Mum is falling apart, her other child is being comforted by grandma in the same room. I decide to run for it…the A/E is only minutes away.

Holding the baby with its head in my hand and its body laid along my arm we make our way to the truck. Continuing with the CPR we belt it to the hospital. During the short ride mum tells me that she had the baby in bed with her and found her unresponsive when she got up! That explains why the baby is still warm! Arriving at the A/E I still perform CPR whilst quickly negotiating the inappropriate ‘patients’ hanging around the entrance smoking their cigs.

The resus room is waiting and I hand over the baby to the doctors who carry on with the CPR. Relaying the history to the senior doc I then leave to complete the paperwork. As the adrenaline starts to wear off the tiredness floods in and I have to fight back the tears. The reaper has got one back! I remember thinking out loud…‘I don’t want to do this job anymore!’



34 Responses to Highs and Very, Very Lows…!!!

  1. Bendy Girl says:

    Hey Big Bro, I’m in tears now! I hope you’re doing ok, and it’s great to see you back blogging. lil sis x

  2. Jo says:

    No words, just {hugs}.

  3. Like wise, hugs and tears. I Can’t start to imagine how drained you felt after that shift.
    A long time ago I had a Red Cross first aid tutor who used terrify the living daylights out of us in baby resus assessments, we would walk in the room and she would run around the room screaming like a banshee clutching the ‘dummy baby’. Before we could do anything we had to convince her to let go of the baby, it was only ‘role play’ but it was a sobering experience, I NEVER want to see that for real.

    How great that a member of the first family, managed to hold it together and do CPR

  4. Louise says:

    Its the unfortunate downside to our job that when we’re faced with these jobs we have to be the calm ones when sometimes all you want to do is cry with the family.

    Hope you managed a good sleep, although I know its difficult after jobs like that.

  5. AnneDroid says:

    How awful. Really awful. For everyone.

  6. Rach says:

    Awww that’s just awful for you, big hugs from me too..xx

  7. nickopotamus says:

    Sucks mate, and let me add another {hug}. Had one of those (the latter) a couple of months ago – 3wo, they got an output back in resus, but it died in paed ICU when they turned the ventilator off a week later. I think the paperwork was the worst bit, when you actually have to think about what happened and the enormity of it hits you.

    I can’t help but wonder, what would have happened if the first job had died? Would some form of cosmic karma meant the baby survived? My logical, rational side says no, and one victory is better than none. But the emotional side of me can’t help but think about it…

  8. piratedani says:

    *respectful silence and a huge big consoling hug*

  9. Petrolhead says:

    My friends have just had a baby, every time she’s asleep I check every 5 seconds to make sure she’s still breathing.

    At least you can reassure each other that you gave the baby the best possible chance. {hugs}

  10. medicblog999 says:

    Tough Job mate (but cracking first one!)
    I will never forget my first (and only….touch a very big piece of wood) S.I.D.S. Stays with you for a long time. Here’s hoping you have another couple of good saves in the very near future!
    I’m thinking of you and your mate. Bad outcome but still, well done.

  11. medicblog999 says:

    P.S. That last photo gives me the creeps!

  12. kingmagic says:

    Lil Sis…thanks. I posted this as it came into my head and from memory so its been a good form of release. x

    Jo…thanks Jo. x

    UHDD…drained…I felt empty which was made worse with it being a night shift. Did’nt get time to relax all shift and then the last job was the straw. x

    Louise…it was the combination of factors that made it even worse. The first save of the shift was excellent and I should have realised that it was the calm before the storm. x

    AnneDroid…everyone was affected in some way by the last job. Obviously the mum, the rest of the family, us, the A/E staff and those that had to see us running in doing CPR on a baby. x

    Rach…thanks Rach x

    nickopotamus…thanks Nick. God moves in mysterious ways I think. What will be…will be I suppose.

    piratedani…thanks Dani x


    medicblog999…thanks. I know what you mean about the photo.

  13. Posh Totty says:

    No words from me either but am sending love and hugs Xxx

  14. Greg says:

    прикольно, нигде не видал

  15. kingmagic says:

    Posh Totty…thankyou. x


  16. piratedani says:

    thats a bit odd. according to google translate, Greg said ‘cool, never seen’
    quite odd.

    how are you doing. Its been a couple days now. You guys ok? Is it still lingering? Bad memorys tend to do that.

  17. Too many memories in that post stirred up for me. Holiday season, 1994, three pediatric arrests, back-to-back before the shift was half over. The boss looked at me and my partner after the third one and said, “You two are done for the day, go home, don’t worry about the rest of the shift. I’ll clock you out at your regular time.”

    Like life, the job was yin and yan in action.

  18. I’ve been slightly unlucky with the amount of infant deaths I’ve had to deal with – but I promise you that there’s nothing as relieving as seeing your boys and girls in green turn up.

    It’s a crap one from start to finish, and for me the hardest part is always the hours afterwards spent with the family.

    When a call like that comes over the radio, there’s always two seconds silence before people start to answer up.
    Not because we’re reluctant to go, but there’s that “oh shit” moment before we kick into action, thinking about what we’re going to be coming across.

  19. kingmagic says:

    piratedani…things are much better thanks. My next post may reflect this. x

    Mr. Nighttime…allowed to finish shift early? Our lot want us back on the road asap to hit those stupid ORCON times/targets!

    ATNS…I know doing a paeds resus is emotionally hard at times but I for one could not be the one who does the ‘knock on the door’ to tell the family.

  20. nickopotamus says:

    @kingmagic Same thing here – we were given time to grab a coffee, but were expected to get back on the road ASAP to hit ORCON times! Next job was a blue-light circus (RRV, us, cycle responder) for a panic attack at a GP’s surgery… So worthwhile…

  21. “Mr. Nighttime…allowed to finish shift early? Our lot want us back on the road asap to hit those stupid ORCON times/targets!”

    Fortunately, our EMS director at the time was a human being…and a leader in every sense of the word. I learned a lot from him, and it was quite a task to step into his shoes after he left. (I was the one promoted to take over as director.) I learned a great deal about leadership, amongst other things, while working for him.

  22. Deborah Parr says:

    Bless you

  23. Mike says:

    Just passing by.Btw, you website have great content!

    Making Money $150 An Hour

  24. emsguy64 says:

    Closest I’ve been to a pediatric code was a shaken baby who had a head bleed.
    We’re studying pediatrics in Paramedic school right now. It is amazing how babies can be both fragile and tenacious at the same time.

  25. Ethans Mummy says:

    it must be awful. I would like to take my hat off – out of all our time in hospital picu whatever, whenver ethan has crashed he has fortunately been on the ward in the first place.

    We had a scary experience a couple weeks ago when he went into respiritory distress/failure (if u read my blog Id be interested what u think!)

    and stupidly we drove like maniacs to get him to hospital – and before we had even left our street i thought this is stupid even if he does arrest there aint no way i can do anything. I did a pead first aid course – but think id be useless if I actually had to do it.

    So thanks xxx

  26. Scott Garen says:

    I’m interested in obtaining a high-res. copy and copyright clearance of the beautiful photograph w. caption “the pathway back to life” for use on the back cover of a DVD devoted to the brilliant poet / philosopher David Whyte. Photo will be credited.

    PLEASE REPLY w. contact info. ASAP. We are finalizing the DVD cover art in the next few days.

    Thank you – Scott Garen

  27. Peggy Humm says:

    Tuesday, February 17th, 2009- May I use the photo of the road for a program on Perinatal Grief. I work with pregnant Moms who have lethal fetal diagnosis during pregnancy. It is a great photo.
    Peggy Humm, RN, Texas, USA

  28. Dave Chapman says:

    I’m in the process of developing a website and brochure for my speaking career. Is the pathway photo under the title “Highs, and Very, Very Lows…!”
    available in the public domain? It’s beautiful and I’d like to use it from time-to-time.



  29. kingmagic says:

    Dave…as far as I am aware it is in the public domain. I cant remember where I got it from on Google, probaly searched for pathway.

    • Dave Chapman says:

      Thanks very much! Sorry I didn’t write back sooner; had some surgery and have been recovering. Don’t be surprised if you start getting hits from paramedics on this side of the pond. I’ve sent your address to several friends.

      Thanks again,

      Dave Chapman

  30. jason says:

    hello- I LOVE the image of the “pathway-back” and have a friend who would like to use it on his website.
    Do you own the image? If not do you know who does as I’d like to see if I can get permission for it to be used on my friend’s website.

    Thank you so much!

  31. jason says:

    oops! i didn’t read the previous comment!!
    Sorry 🙂

  32. Gemma says:

    Hi Kingmagic,

    I love the photo you’ve used in your blog.
    Can I ask where you found them originally or are they copyrighted?


    • kingmagic says:

      Hi Gemma

      I googled the pictures and as far as I am aware they are in the public domain and not copyrighted.

      Others have asked to use them and had no problems.


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