I saved a mans life today – which may sound heroic to some and quite nonchalant to others. So let me explain.
I am a Paramedic, which immediately would make you think ‘isn’t saving lives your job?’ And while in some ways you are right, the ‘saving lives’ part isn’t exactly a large portion of my job description.
For the majority of my shifts I am dealing with people’s ‘worst days.” While requiring emergency medical attention is commonplace for me, I understand that for the people I am treating, this could very well be the worst and most upsetting day of their life.
Ranging from the 80-year-old woman who has fallen and broken her hip – to the 4-year-old child who has been vomiting for 3 days, or even to transport the terminally ill cancer patient back to hospital. While these conditions at this time aren’t life threatening, they still require medical attention.
Because for the majority of the work I do, it isn’t about life and death.
But today it was.
We were called to a man having an anaphylactic reaction to multiple bee stings. When we arrived the man was no longer conscious and it was very clear he wasn’t going to survive much longer.
This literally was a life or death situation.
At this point, my actions, or my inactions would dictate whether this man lived or died.
My partner and I moved fast, despite only working with each other a handful of times, it was like we had been working together for years. We were calm and on top of the situation before us.
Our patient was gurgling, his blood pressure was unreadable and his heart rate was slowing down. He was decompensating fast.
It was hot and sweaty. A crowded space, working hunched over on the floor of a service station with bystanders watching our every move. Manoeuvring ourselves in our small environment around shelves, our patient and our equipment.
I was relaying orders of what to do next to my partner and she was acting on them as fast as I could get the words out. Adrenaline given, cardiac monitoring, airway and oxygen, IV access, fluids hung… monitor, reassess, go again.
The patient improved for a minute or so and then went back downhill again. We continued on, extricating him from the scene and transporting him to hospital, lights and sirens blaring as we navigated through traffic, continuing to help our patient fight to breathe.
By the time we arrived at hospital our patient was talking to us, thanking us and shaking our hands.
He wasn’t completely out of the woods and was at risk of deteriorating again but in this moment I was on cloud nine.
How often can you say that your actions literally saved someones life?
Even after almost 7 years as a Paramedic I know these moments are rare. The moments when you have someone who is literally seconds away from death, who then half an hour later are sitting up and thanking you for saving their life.
These are the moments that remind me why I do my job. Why I go to work everyday knowing that I could be facing a job that breaks me. Knowing that I am leaving my son at daycare so ‘Mummy can go and look after the sick people.’ Knowing that what I do matters.
Saving a persons life is the biggest buzz. I walked around with a massive grin on my face for hours. And as I stood in my shower washing the dirt and grit away, I allowed myself to take a moment to be proud of what I do. Rather than playing down the days events as ‘part of my job’ I allowed myself to acknowledge that saving someones life is bloody awesome.