How To Save A Life
Around 6 in the morning, our tones drop and I push myself up and out of bed. Getting out the door, I stumble into my gear bleary-eyed, hoping for a quick run. The dispatch sounds routine: Difficulty Breathing, older male, wife calling on his behalf.
I light up the warning equipment and start the drive, falling into the routine as I hear other units checking in on the radio. This is on the edge of our runbox, so there’s another crew of firefighters coming from the other direction, plus the ambulance which is stationed a little farther away.
Once everyone is on the way, the dispatcher comes on the air with new information: breathing has stopped, CPR in progress.
Ok, NOW I’m awake.
That whole idea of a routine call is out the window as my adrenaline dumps hard. Pulling to a halt in front of a rural two-story home, I hustle up the driveway with medbag in hand.
Crap, where’s the door?
The house has a first floor garage and an exterior staircase up to a wrap-around porch on the second story, no obvious point of entry. The only lights I see are those from our warning equipment playing back and forth over the side of the house and the woods beyond.
My station captain finds a door, but it’s locked and dark, and he starts knocking on it while I dash around the side to see if there’s another way in.
There’s light coming from a sliding door at the back corner of the dwelling; between the blinds I can see a supine human form with a woman kneeling over it giving chest compressions.
“Captain, back here!” I shout over my shoulder while I try to pull the sliding door open. It’s locked. The woman startles and looks up at me trying to get in, but she clearly doesn’t want to stop compressions to let us in.
“The front door!” she yells with a tight voice.
“It’s locked too!” I tell her, trying to keep my composure. She jumps up and pops the lock just as the captain catches up to me, and I can see from the corner of my eye another firefighter jogging around the side of the house towards us.