The Delicacy of Life
I’m relatively new to the world of firefighting and emergency medical services. I began firefighting full time in October 2013, and couldn’t have been more excited. For the first few weeks we ran mostly fire alarms and non-life threatening medical calls. The day I responded to my first cardiac arrest call I realized how important ems personnel are, how fragile life is, and that this was something I want to do for the rest of my life.
We had just finished eating dinner, and my crew and I were winding down for the evening. Sitting in the recliners, relaxed, watching television. The tones and lights went off in the fire house, and we hear the dispatch personnel coming over the intercom. Dispatch stated there was a 40 alpha at the gym on base, which is code for a medical call. We loaded up in the engine and proceeded to the gym.
During the drive to the gym, dispatch gave us the details of the call. The patient felt light headed in the sauna and upon exiting he fainted in the locker room. We arrived on scene and I grabbed the medical bags and heart rate monitor and proceeded to the patient. The paramedic began questioning him while I hooked him up to the heart rate monitor and got his vitals. Besides his high heart rate, his vitals were in a normal range. He said he felt fine and just wanted to go home, and legally he was allowed to refuse medical care. Before my captain started the refusal paperwork, she hooked him up to an EKG sensor to monitor his heart rhythm. The quick thinking of my captain might have just saved his life. Immediately she realized something was terribly wrong. The patient’s heart rate had an abnormal rhythm. Not even a minute later, the patient’s face lost all color and he lost consciousness again. His heart rate plunged, and we needed to prep him for immediate transport. We loaded him up on the stretcher and put him in the ambulance. I hooked him up to an IV to get some fluids in…