During my mentoring period when I first qualified as a Paramenace we went to a cardiac arrest – which really didn’t go that well. I remember talking with my mentor Jenny* about it a few days afterwards and empathetically she told me of her very first cardiac arrest . . .
She was working with an old-school paramenace (as her mentor) and they’d just walked into a room to find the patient on the floor . . . dead.
This was Jen’s moment so her mentor stepped aside and allowed her to take control. She marched over and knelt beside the patient.
Jenny is a very methodical worker and always uses a systematic approach. Having come straight out of technician school the processes in dealing with basic life support were fresh in her head. Jenny said that upon seeing the ‘sick’ patient she became very nervous and reverted back to her basic training . . . . and her methods of passing exams.
Jenny: OK, I’m checking for a response!
She spoke the words vehemently at no one in particular and then proceeded with shaking the patient’s shoulders. Bending down so she was level with the patient’s ear she continued – even louder.
Jenny: HELLO SIR! CAN YOU HEAR ME! **shake shake shake** THIS IS THE AMBULANCE SERVICE! **shake shake shake** CAN YOU OPEN YOUR EYES PLEASE! **shake shake shake**
Her mentor, with a placid expression and his hands behind his back, leant over her slightly.
Mentor: He’s dead Jen
Jenny: OK, I’m checking the airway for any obstruction!
Mentor: He’s still dead Jen
Jenny: OK, now I’m checking for breathing and a pulse! **whispers** one . . two . . three . . .
Mentor: Nothing’s changed Jen
Jenny: . . five . . six . .seven . .
Mentor: He’s still very much dead Jen
Jenny: . . nine . . ten. OK! No pulse and no breathing . . . um . . . chest compressions
Mentor: That would be a good idea Jen
Jenny: OK. I’m now commencing CPR! **starts singing to self** . . . Nellie the elephant packed his trunk and said goodbye to the . . . .
Her mentor rolled his eyes, smiling slightly, and moved forward to join her.
They worked on the patient for a long while but the outcome was not good. The patient had been down too long prior to them arriving.
After telling me this we had a good chuckle. It was comforting to hear that other medics, whom you regard with such high esteem, also suffer the same ridiculously surreal situations as yourself.
*not her real name of course