Monday, August 15, 2011

The One that Didn't Get Away

OK, in keeping with my summer of frivolity I am sharing from the heart on this one.  Pun intended.

I first learned CPR in the early seventies.  It was a great time to start into this thing, EMS, that was truly in its infancy.  We all thought that with a Red Cross First Aid Card and a CPR card we could save the world.  And we were chafing at the bit to do just that.

As time progressed the Gold Standard was thrust upon us and Roy and Johnny saved pretty much everyone that they even walked past.  We even had an occasional save in our greater metropolitan area.  Then Para-medicine arrived for us and greater strides were made toward sporadically beating the Grim Reaper.  Fellow ambulance drivers, attendants, firemen, EMTs, and even Paramedics had their favorite story about the one that didn't get away.  I wanted to tell you mine...but I didn't have one I could share.

Not that for 34 years I haven't tried.  I've tried in Cadillac ambulances, Ford Ambuwagons, van ambulances, Type 1, 2, and 3 ambulances.  Responding from home, with ALS, as ALS, together with fixed and rotary wing medical transportation.  Even with an untold number of rescue vehicles and a more traditional walking or hiking into the scene.  All adding up to a big zero.  Hell I think that the local funeral homes sent me Christmas cards just so I could keep funneling business to them.

It's getting so bad now that I was asked to drive the ambulance to one CPR in progress so that the crew could show me how it's done.  They failed, my string continues.  My partners and coworkers immediately kiss off any chance of resuscitation as soon as I buckle in with them.  They talk in hushed tones about the Doctor Kevorkian of EMS, The Streak, Bad Luck Pete, and use some names that decorum will not allow me to quote.

I think that I first became aware of my issue in college.  As I recall even at that young age I was already well known for my lack of prowess in CPR.  At that time there was a ubiquitous CPR poster that literally hung everywhere that screamed in large bold print "CPR SAVES LIVES!"  Underneath that exclamation was added with black magic marker "Just Ask Pete."  To this day my friends from there specifically have me penciled in their  living wills as CPR provider of choice so they can rest assured that they won't be saved and end up a vegetable from the experience.  

Well in the last two weeks we have had four opportunities to practice our craft.  Three of them I was the crew chief on duty.  We all know how they turned out.  But the other one was different.  It was different in many ways, including the outcome

My son wants to be a pre-hospital RN PHRN.  He wants to fly and bask in the glory of aeromedical nirvana.  He wants this so bad that he hangs around the ambulance begging to go on calls, wanting to help in any way he can just to become inculcated into the EMS System.  Often because he is so persistent he is allowed to ride along and occasionally he helps with lifting or some other menial job that really means the world to him.  In other words he has it bad and the guys are willing to coach him along.

Every year we are directed to stand by at the county fair for the throngs of people that come to milk the cows, ride the horses, and slip something to the sheep.  It is as boring as it gets and the people that approach us with every suspected critical emergency are generally let down easily with an ice pack or band aid.  Not this year.  Re-Pete, as my son is called, finagled his way on to the ambulance for stand by, and free entrance to the fair, was seated on the back bumper with a blue ribbon smile on his face that no one could come a close second to as someone ran up and said a man was laying in the parking lot between two cars breathing weird.  By the time the crew put down their funnel cakes, dumped their five dollar fresh squeezed lemonade, and got ready to respond Re-Pete was gone.

As the crew arrived at the parking lot they heard the canned voice from an AED say "analyzing don't touch patient."  Re-Pete ran to the lot, grabbed an AED and started care for the poor old gent.  The next thing the gathering crowd hears is "Shock Advised, Push to Shock."  Go ahead Re-Pete they say and he gets his first cardioversion right there between the cars.  Normal Sinus Rhythm.  ALS is there and the whole crew, including Re-Pete take off for the hospital at Warp 8.

I couldn't be more proud, oh yeah of my son, but more importantly that whatever I have is not passed on via any hereditary process.  Re-Pete 1 for 1 and dad 0 for 34 years. Maybe I'll just bask in his glory for a while.  The one that didn't get away.