Lifeless eyes stare through the ceiling as my partner does compressions. The bicarb we pushed in a little while might be helping out because even though we don't have pulses yet, our patient has reached an organized rhythm. My partner, the new one, is getting tired quickly. This is the first time she's ever performed CPR on a real person.
"Get your shoulders over the chest a little more. You want to be at a 90 degree angle" I coach her.
The other paramedic squeezes air into the man's lungs.
The patient in question is a 51 year old former employee of the company I currently work for. He had moved into our service area recently after starting his own safety business. We've called in the chopper and are on our way to the LZ across the bayou.
My partner is starting to tire out, so I tell her to take over bagging and I take compressions. The other medic, who I went to paramedic school with, pushes in another epi. I feel the burn start in my shoulders as we pull up to the LZ. The Flight Medic opens the back doors, looks inside. The man on the stretcher was his partner for 2 years, back when he was still on the truck.
"Fuck. What we got?"
I give a rundown of the patient - 51 year old male, told his wife he was having trouble breathing, dropped. CPR almost from the moment he hit the ground. All we've had on the monitor is PEA.
IO drilled, number 7.0 tube, almost done with his first bag of fluid, 6 epis in, maxed out on atropine, bicarb in, d50 in, narcan in. Hypertension, didn't take his meds, no allergies.
The Flight Medic loads up the patient. The other paramedic flies in with him.
The man doesn't make it. They lose the rhythm shortly after takeoff and don't ever get anything back. They later say it was due to a massive infarct.
I wipe the sweat from my forehead, walk back to the cab of my unit, pick up the phone. Could I've done anything different? I run through my algorithm in my head. I treated the hell out of him.
The funeral service is well attended.
I walk out of the funeral home, run into the Flight Medic. He and I aren't on the best of terms - I don't think he's a very nice person, and he has a lot of disdain for the paramedic factory that I was churned out of, which I don't blame him for. Some of my class mates were less then stellar, and some of those were less than competent.
He takes a drag from his smoke.
"I was really mad at you, MedicMarch. When they called him, all I could think of was that you did something wrong, or fucked up somewhere, and it was your fault he wasn't coming back. I was looking for someone to blame."
I stand there silently, wondering if I'm about to get hit.
"Then I thought about it a little more. Thought about the report you gave me." He points inside. "Thought a lot about him. He never listened to his doctors."
He takes another drag. "I just wanted to say I'm sorry about that. You did what you could for him, and I'm embarrassed for having been mad at you. It was very unprofessional of me. I'm sorry." He sticks his hand out and shakes mine.
I walk to my jeep and get in, rest my head on the steering wheel for a moment. At home that evening, I am sitting on my porch, and I pour a little of my beer into the garden. One for me, one for my homie.