10.25.2007

Code

"Station 2, unresponsive patient."
The tones drop for another county, interrupting my dream. Frustrated, I roll over in the bed as I hear station 2 and central dispatch corresponding.
"Medic 2 is en route."
"10-4."
"Medic 2 has arrived on scene."
"10-4."
"Central, show that we have a working code."
"10-4."
In my dream, I wonder about how little central dispatch ever seems to say. I hear the door creak open as light streams in the room. Someone pushes my foot over and sits down on the bed.
"Sam. Sam, wake up." Chris pokes me, and I close my eyes tighter; I am not getting up for him, no way, no how.
"Sam, get the hell up!"
"What do you waaaant," I moan as I pull the covers over my head.
"There's a code." I'm up like a shot, tying my boots as I run awkwardly down the hall. I push the hair out of my face, tying it in an unkempt bun as I climb into the medic.
"Why are we going to this," I ask, "it's not our call."
"If this is truly a working code, they'll need manpower," he answers as I attempt to fix my hair once more. We're screaming down the road, going faster than I ever recall; I buckle my seatbelt as I wrestle a pair of gloves on my hands.
We nearly pass the house, but pull in behind another medic and two police cars. I jump out and walk towards the door; I'm not sure if I'm supposed to run in, or if that's reserved for the movies.
I can't even get in the door. She's right there, in the foyer. I shimmy to the side, and stand oddly, looking on. I have no idea if I should offer to help or stay out of the way.
And there it is. There's the bright yellow oral airway jutting out from her mouth. There's the Bag-Valve Mask and someone to squeeze it. There's the heart monitor, showing a flat line running across the screen mockingly. There is the technician doing chest compressions as she wipes her forehead with her upper arm.
I push myself further into the wall, hoping to blend in, hoping no one notices my anxiety. I feel the color draining out of my cheeks, but I know I'm keeping my composure, keeping my face flat and unchanging. The woman lying on the ground is in her forties, and she's wearing a terribly leopard-print dress. I can see the velvet of the garment sticking in different directions after the technician's hands interrupted its fluidity. I see her clunky black heels, and her formerly coiffed hair.
There's a tech showing another how rigor has set in, how it's useless. There's a police officer asking me questions, but I have no idea what they are; I just grasp the wall tighter.
It's done, she's dead. The technician stops compressions, and I notice how she takes special care to modestly arrange that awful dress so that she looks put together. I see one of our medics go to the family member and break the news. All I hear is a scream, and I head out the door. I can't take this.
I have a brief flashback to when they told me about so many of my loved ones. I remember the guttural noise I screamed, and the way the sobs choked their way up my throat. I take a moment to breathe, and Chris is heading out the door.
"Alright kid, let's go. You okay?"
"Yep," I say as I manage a rather convincing smile.
As we drive back, I hear the medics talking about the call, and as I sit alone in the back, I realize I need to talk to someone too. I open my cell phone and call my dad, the only person I know will understand.
"Hey dad, I just got done with a code."
"Oh wow, how was it?"
"Really...real."
"Are you okay, Sam?" I hear his voice falter, and I steady my own.
"Yeah. Yeah, I'm okay. It was just so real, you know Dad?"
"Yeah, I know."
"I mean, she was wearing this disgusting leopard-print dress, and there was this woman like...like pushing on her chest, you know? It wasn't glamorous or anything like that. There was a woman lying next to a stain of her own emesis as an EMT pushed on her chest!"
"Yeah, I know kiddo." The tears well up behind my eyes, and I make up an excuse.
"Well I've got to go; we're pulling into the station. Just thought I'd let you know."
"Thanks. Take care, okay? Love you."
"Love you too."
I bolt out of the back as soon as the truck is in the bay, and I mumble something about needing to use the bathroom. I slide down the cold cinder block wall and put my head in between my knees. I let myself cry for a few minutes, and then I'm back with everyone, laughing and eating breakfast.
"Station 1, shortness of breath."
"Medic 1 is en route," and we're off again.

5 comments:

Silent Owl Scribe said...

How it is in life. Life always happens. Stuff happens. And then, you realize that you forgot to tie your shoes, and realize that you are still alive.

Thanks for making me think a little...I appreciate it Medic 61!

Kyle J. said...

It's never a good day when you get a code, even if you make the save, you think about their quality of life..are they brain dead? will they ever truly be the same? Even worse if they die...the worst are the traumatic arrests, the 16 year old ones who just got their license and end up against a wall at 80 miles per hour..don't even think about a seat belt and when you pull up you'll find em face down, tounge bulging out, blue. You have to stare them in the face all the way to the hospital as you do CPR....(By the way i talk you'd think i have had a call like this that deeply effected me..;) ) Cheer up kid, it'll get better by your 4 or 5th one.

Anonymous said...

Wow Sam that posting really made me think. Ive only had two codes but weve been able to save them both times. Sorry you had to go through it... but its the poison of the job.

Kate
BVFD

AnniforsciA said...

<3

Anonymous said...

Sam, I was precepitng someone with just a year of service, her first code was a hit and run car v child 12yo on her way home from school 30 metres from home, parents neighbours the fully monty, she did fine, just like you its what we do