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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Truck 51, Responding.

The tones chime around 21:30. A medical aid. I've picked up an overtime shift and am driving at my own station. Always a plus. I listened to the address and go to the map. I knew the street but I want to check exactly which house it was. As I stepped into the rig my captain said in a tense voice, "Get us there!"

In the dispatch notes my captain had read that we were headed to a pediatric full arrest. In plain English we were headed out for a baby that no longer was breathing or had a beating heart. 

Normally when driving a fire truck with lights and sirens there's a lot of caution involved. A 70,000 pound vehicle rolling through red lights can be dangerous. On the way to this call the limits were pushed. Seconds counted. We listened above the growl of the siren to the dispatcher rattle off all the units that were responding. Truck 51, PD, AMR, AMR Supervisor and at our request, Engine 52. Dispatch informed all responding units that CPR instructions were being given and that this was for an 8 month old boy. 

One police officer made it to the scene before us, He had just enough time to go in and grab the lifeless kid and bring him out to us. I started chest compressions while my firefighter set up the BLS airway. After a minute of CPR the AMR unit pulled up. Without hesitation we moved. As a cohesive unit we transferred the entire operation from the front of the house to the back of the ambulance.

On our way to the hospital, in the back of the ambulance, there were three medics and an EMT. My firefighter continued with compressions gently forcing the child's heart to pump blood. I inserted an intubation tube into the airway of my patient. With that in I then connected the end tidal CO2 tubing and continued to breath for the baby. The AMR supervisor used a drill gun to sink in an IO needle for vascular access. He then was able to administer what we hoped would be life saving drugs. The AMR medic watched the heart monitor for a rhythm and kept track of time for us. It's remarkable easy to lose track of time on a full arrest.

By the time that we reached the hospital the RNs were waiting for us at the door. Our ACLS protocols had been followed perfectly. Even better than they would have been in the hospital. This is what we do.

Inside the ER the staff takes over continuing with ACLS. Another 20 minutes go by and there's been no change. The family has arrived. Mom and dad stand in the hallway looking for a miracle. As I come out of the room they look to me for answers. The hospital staff hasn't had time to talk to them yet and I'm the one the parents remember rushing their baby away giving them hope. The father asked what his vitals were in a way that told me they had heard that on a medical show on TV and were sure their boy was supposed to have some sort of vitals.

I take my time with the family explaining what was going on. I prepared them for the worst because I knew it's coming. Years of experience told me what the end result of this call would be. After a few questions another ER doc came by and took over for me. As he was talking I slipped away.

I headed back out to the ambulance bay and helped my firefighter put all of our gear back together. Just as we were leaving the AMR supervisor came out, caught my eye, and shook his head. Nothing more needed to be said.

The ride back to our station was quiet. Somber. None of the usual banter and at times dark humor that usually follows a serious call. None of us talk about it but we're all fathers. This one hit close to home. As we approached the station the radio beeped and the dispatcher came on.

"Truck 51, medical response...." I knew where were headed. I reached up and flipped on our lights. My foot stepped on the floor button that winds up the siren. Over its high pitched scream I hit the air horn.

Truck 51, responding.
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