We recently worked a cardiac arrest where a woman collapsed while enjoying a dinner her husband of 50 years prepared for her. When we arrived he was doing CPR on her in the middle of the kitchen floor while following the instructions given to him on the phone by the dispatcher. Other family members were in the living room in a state of unbelief and worry, they greeted us with such relief. People seem to think when we arrive we’re going to save the day and everything will be okay. While trying to resuscitate this woman her husband was stepping over us to clear the dinner table and began washing the dishes. I could see in his face that he knew his wife was gone yet he continued on as if it hadn’t happened, he even offered me some dinner while I was trying to locate her vocal chords with my laryngoscope to intubate her. He then started to show us their wedding pictures while we were in the middle of performing CPR, starting a second line and pushing our meds.
The mind is an amazing defense mechanism. This poor man knew what the outcome would be yet he continued on as if this was a regular occurrence in his home. We tried to resuscitate his wife and worked through every protocol we had but it was pointless, it was just her time, her initial rhythm was asystole and it never changed. I sat him down in another room and explained to him that despite our best efforts his wife was dead, one of the worst parts of my job. Thankfully our Victim Services unit arrived and started to care for the family. We packed up our things, cleaned up our garbage and returned to our station. Just another routine cardiac arrest for us but a life changing and horrific evening for that family and that poor man.
Have a good and safe week everyone. For all of you who will have to tell someone their family member has died this week know that myself and 80% of the people who have seen this post have been there and you’re not alone, we’re with you.
Respectfully your brother,