A Medical Experience

It was the end of a normal day at the station. The medics are just
getting to bed after running a half a dozen calls for an assorted minor medical
and trauma problems. The paperwork was finished. The reports were entered into
the computer. The truck was even restocked. They were just about into
dreamland but, as with most nights at this particular station, sleep was not to
Several miles away, in a small, well kept apartment, Angie Briggs, a
eighty-year-old woman awoke to the feeling that the life-giving air was being
denied to her. She tried to sit up, but the feeling would not subside. Walking
made it worse. She also noticed that, even though the temperature in her room
was comfortable, she was dripping with sweat. The longer that she waited, the
harder it became to breath. So, realizing the fact that her doctor was probably
asleep, she did the next logical step, she called her daughter, who lives in
another state. The daughter realized that her mother needed more help than she
could give over the phone, tried to persuade the mother to call an ambulance,
which, of course, the mother refused to do, stating that it wasn\'t necessary.
The daughter then took it upon herself to call EMS from her own house.
The medics were notified of the problem through the usual method, a
series of tones over a radio that cause a loud horn to blare and all the station
lights to come on, much to the annoyance of the fire lieutenant. This alarm was
immediately followed by the dispatchers voice giving all the applicable
information on this call.
"Med unit 2, respiratory call, 103 Royal Terrace Boulevard, apartment 7,
in reference to a 80 year old woman with shortness of breath."
Not that the EMS crew were listening at this point. They are busy
getting into their jumpsuits and putting their boots on. It does not matter if
they are eating, sleeping, watching TV, or even taking a shower, they are
required to be in the ambulance and en route to the scene within two minutes.
"Med Two\'s en route." Stated EMT Jennifer Meyers in a sleepy voice
" Copy med 2 is en route to 103 Royal Terrace Blvd., apartment 7." Now
they are listening. "This is in reference to a 80 year-old female who is in
severe respiratory distress. Received the call from her daughter that is out of
state. Patient sounds very short of breath."
"I\'m pretty sure that it is in the first entrance into the apartment
complex. Should be the third or fourth building on the left", stated Doug
Murphy the paramedic on duty.
It took only a few minutes for the ambulance to arrive at the scene.
After dispatch was informed of their arrival, Doug and Jennifer removed the
stretcher that was already loaded with the monitor, the airway bag, and the med
box. As he approached the front door, Doug took notice of the condition of the
walkway, of the location of the bushes, and any outside furniture that might
impede exiting the house with a stretcher loaded with a person. He did the same
quick evaluation upon entering the residence.
After knocking, an elderly, heavy-set woman opened the door. The medic
could see immediately that she was is serous trouble. Her clothes were soaked,
wet with sweat, every time she took a breath, a faint popping sound could be
heard. The medic also could see the front of her neck pull in along with every
breath and that her general color had a faint, matted bluish color about her.
Doug knew that without immediate treatment, this lady would die.
Doug quickly lowered the stretcher and took the equipment off of it.
"Why don\'t you sit right here." Doug told Mrs. Briggs
" I\'m fine, really. I told my daughter that I would see my doctor in
the morning. I don\'t know why she called you?" Mrs. Briggs stated. The medic
was surprised that she could talk at all.
"When did you start having trouble breathing?" Doug asked as he was
turning on the oxygen bottle
"About an hour ago. I woke up and couldn\'t catch my breath." Pointing
to the oxygen mask that the medic was placing on her face. "I really don\'t
need any of that."
" I think you do. You need to let me do my job and treat you. This
condition will only get worse."
"No, I think I\'ll wait till the morning."
"Listen, you don\'t have until the morning. To be perfectly blunt, I
doubt you have a