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How To Save A Life

How To Save A Life

Spirits are high as the incident winds down and we rehab all our equipment back onto the engine. This is stuff I haven’t seen before. I’ve worked a couple codes since I started, but they were predictable. Check vitals, start CPR, paramedic drops the tube, and pronounce the victim dead.

I have friends who have been on the fire department for YEARS and have never worked a full arrest that the patient has recovered from. I know this is one for my journal, I just worked my first clinical save.

I can’t help smiling as I make my way home later in the morning. I don’t really want to wake up my wife, but I can’t help it, I’m still hyped up and have to talk to her. This was what I’d been wanting, what I’d been waiting for ever since witnessing that car accident made me join the fire service in the first place.

I’d just been given the opportunity to face my fear of helplessness, and I didn’t miss a beat. Scared? You bet. Anxious? Beyond belief. But thanks to my training and my brothers who were coaching me on at the scene, I knew what to do and how to play my part on the team that ended up saving a life that day.

Over the next week we talk about that call at the station over and over again. Reliving the action, laughing at things that were so serious and high-pressure just a few days ago. One of the guys even tells me in private that he thinks I did a nice job on that call.

Now THAT’s high praise. A big moral in our children’s stories today is that you shouldn’t care what other people think about you, but there’s no way I can buy into that. On a fire crew, you don’t have to be LIKED by everyone, but you at least want to be respected.

You want the other guys to feel like they can trust you to do your job. Consequently, there’s almost no greater feeling than those first few grudging comments that indicate that they don’t think of you as such a total greenhorn anymore.

So was it our amazing skill and heroics that made the difference on this call? Was it really because of us that that man survived to see 2010? No, not at all, and none of us who were on that scene that morning have any delusions about that.

CPR is a long odds proposition to start with. We did nothing more or less for that man than we had for any other full-arrest victim I’ve been present with. I don’t have the magic touch, we didn’t do things in a better order, or at a faster pace, or with newer equipment.

When it comes to basic life support, every responder in the nation has pretty much the same training and tools. The difference was in the patient. He wasn’t too far gone yet, his wife called 911 early, and somehow his body found the stamina to stick it out until we could get oxygen into his lungs.

I’m just proud that I got to be a part of it. This is what being in emergency services is all about.