Wednesday, January 12, 2011


 He sits in his favorite chair in his den in a warm house while the wind howls outside presenting wind chills of 5 below on exposed skin. He is tired and nearly emotionally exhausted. He contemplated the eyeglasses he held in his hand.
 Years of running calls as a volunteer taught him to put his gear back in order immediately after running a call. Tomorrow was never soon enough because the next call could come in just a few minutes. Just 2 hours ago he had skipped out of work early to get a jump start on the snow that had piled up on his driveway all day. He came home, did what needed doing, sat down at his desk and cracked opened a pop. He took the first sip of satisfaction, and at the same instant his pager toned off. His listened for a few seconds, he was tired, it was a long day, and it was probably just a bullshit job. "Unconscious, Unresponsive, CPR instructions being given", he hollered to his wife upstairs "I have to take this one, I'll be right back". His wife knew that this meant "I'll see you when I see you', and out the door he went.
 The job was close, about 3 miles away, he had the AED for this side of town and knew he had to get it there and put it to work.
 First one on scene "Damn!" he thought. He left on his blue strobes to mark the location and grabbed his oxygen, jump bag, and AED. Family members were waving from the doorway, never a good sign. In the bedroom he found a family member 'performing' CPR one handed while talking on the phone with the other. Quick check for pulse and breathing yields no joy. He directs the family member to assist getting the patient on the floor and so it begins.. AED in place, "NO SHOCK ADVISED" continue CPR, more responders arrive, ALS arrives, ALS supervisor arrives, everybody is working. He is stuck in the middle between the Aiwray Medic and the Drugs medic trying to assist both in a tiny bedroom with too many people and too little room.
 Work, Work, Work, Package, Package, "OK Ready? 1,2,3 Lift and lets Go". Nothing is easy in this small house and the foot of snow isn't helping. The Firefighters have shoveled a clear path to the back of the rig, thank God for that, and even with this blessing, the broken ground makes things difficult. The ambulance leaves for the hospital.
 He collects his gear and finds his team mates have already done most of it, but returning to his truck he finds a dead battery because he left his lights on. One more inconvenience and he gets a jump, gets it turned around and starts to head home.
 He hasn't gotten far enough down the road to light up his 'end of call cigarette' when the tones go off for a two car MVA, rollover with entrapment. Back into high gear, he heads for the station to grab an Engine as fast as the conditions will allow and after loading his gear bag on board, he races across town. Halfway there he is turned around and returned to quarters.
 After filling out the paperwork, returning home, and explaining to his wife why he was gone two hours, he sits in his den to straighten out his gear bag, which was torn apart by helpful folks trying to find the gear he was asking for. From the open front pocket, he pulled a pair of eyeglasses that were certainly not his.
 Heavy, thick bi-focals they were. He tried to figure out how they got there and then he remembered the cardiac arrest. It was an unkempt house with 'stuff' everywhere. The place was a mess and all the EMS gear spread aorund just made more of a mess. The well meaning responder who had packed up his gear for him assumed they were his glasses and put them in his trauma bag.
 At this point he knew that the patient would no longer need them. What should he do with them. Return them to the family and risk the hurt it would cause by recalling the memory? Donate them to the eyeglass bank in town?
 What to do indeed? He was tired, tomorrow was another day. The question of the glasses would wait until then.

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