Sometimes I really do earn my paycheck. Granted, I feel I do for various reasons depending on the night. Sometimes it's simply because of all the bullshit I have to put up, but sometimes it's because I really truly get presented with a situation to do my job, not just bandage a stubbed toe or take one of our frequent-flyer drunks to the hospital.
Last night.... oh my god what a shift. It was actually fairly boring and annoying up until just prior to midnight. We were taking our 3rd transfer of the night (blgh, give me a "useless" 911 call any day than a transfer...!), and I was meandering my way across the nearly 3 miles through the city from one hospital to the other. Approaching an intersection, I notice this Jeep coming along the intersecting street. Now, it being the middle of the night and all, most of the lights in this part of town switch to blinking. Mine was a flashing yellow, this other vehicle's was a flashing red. However, as we both approached each other, I realized that this other vehicle had no intentions of slowing down, let alone stopping like it was supposed to.
Needless to say, this was not ideal.
I think a resigned, 'ah fuck' ran through my head as I slammed the brakes and tried to swerve at least partly out of the way. I did manage to hit the other vehicle's front quarter panel instead of a direct T-bone smash, but the impact deflected my direction of travel and slammed the ambulance head-on into a telephone pole on the far corner of the intersection.
was basically how it went.
I sat there for a few seconds taking it all in, running through a mental list of everything I was feeling, and getting a grip on the adrenaline that was flooding through my system. The airbags hadn't gone off (which I found out later is because the sensors are on each side of the front, and the telephone pole hit right in between them... moronic design if you ask me), but the seatbelt had held, and I definitely felt that impact as it locked and I slammed into it. But the sledgehammer feeling didn't register as pain or even discomfort, but simply added to the whole 'rush' of the situation.
I called back to see if my partner who was in the back was ok, and fortunately he was. I was perversely pleased that I had to shove the front doors open as they'd be partly jammed.
The person in the vehicle who ran the red light, ended up blowing twice the legal limit. Her first words to me when I got out and made sure she was ok? "The light was flashing." No shit the light was flashing. RED! good lord.
Then we got a call for chest pain an hour before our shift was to end. Of course, we always get a call right then. Always. And 9 and 3/4 times out of 10, chest pain calls aren't anything to do with a heart attack. But this time when I walked in the house and saw our patient lying on the couch as ashen and pale and grey, I went "Oh shit". I generally don't put patients on the heart monitor until I get them in the back of my truck, but I couldn't get those leads on this patient fast enough. Sure enough, there were indications of a massive heart attack.
We got him loaded in the back of the truck, and the alarms on the heart monitor went off, and he went unresponsive. He had gone into cardiac arrest.
We shocked him, and after about 30 sec of CPR he got a pulse back and woke up. He was still extremely grey, quite lethargic, and his blood pressure was so low he didn't have a radial pulse, but he was alive and talking to me.
Yeah, some nights, I really do earn my paycheck.