Wednesday, June 21, 2006

An emergency

I haven’t posted in awhile for a couple reasons.

A) I’m working full-time all over the schedule. Bouncing around from days (7 AM – 3 PM), to evenings (3 PM – 11 PM), to graveyard (11 PM – 7 AM), while throwing in a few 12-hour shifts really screws up my sleep schedule.

B) I was unsure how to write about the psych facility and the patients there. I feel very protective of the patient’s privacy and recognize the unjustified stigma that mental illness bears in our culture. Unlike the ER last summer, there just aren’t many patients culpable in their illness and the environment doesn’t lend itself to shaking my head while thinking, “These crazy people.” You know, cause the place is actually for crazy people. Not that we use that word.

On the way home tonight, I finally worked out how I was going to write about work and was keen to get home and start typing. That’ll have to be in the next post though because as I turned onto my street, my headlights swept across a man lying facedown in the gutter. “Oh shit. This is not good. Okay, he’s probably passed out drunk, but what if he’s not, or he’s got alcohol poisoning?” I debated getting out of the car to check his pulse and breathing for about three seconds before deciding that it was better to call EMS first, then run back to him.

It was only a few hundred feet to my house, so I drove home and rushed to my phone to call 911. There’s an EMS station less than a minute away and I surmised that they’d likely arrive on scene before I returned. Still, I was eager to get back to him just in case. Nothing doing, the 911 dispatchers have questions to ask. I understood, so I made myself breathe slower and just get through it. No I don’t know his condition, didn’t even see if he was breathing. I’d say early 30s. Blue jeans and a grey t-shirt. After summoning EMS, the dispatcher patched me in to the police and they took down my name and what I was wearing (stop it pervs, it was so they could identify me at the scene if necessary).

I hung up and ran back to him. I called out to him, then shouted. Concluding that he really was unconscious, I felt for a pulse and watched his back for breathing. Thankfully, his pulse was RRR (regular rate and rhythm) and breaths were deep and regular. Just then, the fire truck showed up. I’m fairly certain that all firepersons in Austin are EMT-certified and they are regularly summoned to medical emergencies, probably because their response time is exemplary. True in this case at least as they arrived before the paramedics even though the fire station is twice as far as the EMS station.

After reporting my assessment to one of them, they rolled him over, concluded he was drunk and waited in a circle for the paramedics. They police showed up and shined flashlights at Drunk Guy for around 90 seconds until EMS arrived, loaded him on a gurney, and trucked him off to the hospital. Police said I wasn’t needed for a report, so I walked back to me house. Whew. When it was first happening, I was thinking of that nursing instructor at our school who was on her way home from work when she drove by a man lying on the ground, stopped to render aid, and had to start CPR. Thankfully it wasn’t necessary in this case, but you better believe I was running through chest compressions and all that as I trotted down the street to Drunk Guy.

Just to head off some friends, yes, if I had a cell phone I could have stayed with him and assessed his condition while on the phone with 911. That is a very good reason to have a cell phone. Good enough to cave in and get one? Meh.

Lastly, it’s been noted by others before me, but dang Austin has hot firemen. Sure the whole hero thing helps, but handsomeness was in plentiful supply tonight. The cops were pretty smokin’ too. EMS not so much.

1 comment:

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