It’s hard to imagine the amount of grit the average paramedic is capable of mustering. The notion of fending off death on a knife’s edge with limited equipment is one not graspable by the faint hearted – there’s only a special breed of people can do the job.
Speaking to The Guardian, a paramedic, who chose to write anonymously, detailed four days and as many shifts. Covering the highs and lows of the job, the writer describes his tasks like someone would talk about their office activities -except if this person makes a mistake someone could die.
The paramedic describes the quick-reaction nature of the job that as soon as you clock in you’re often already running to the ambulance zooming toward an emergency. In this case it was a cardiac arrest of an elderly woman.
Trying to supply oxygen to a failing body is easier said than done and sometimes requires two crews per one body. After 30 minutes of resuscitation and drug implementing, the paramedic is sure that they’ve lost this one.
“The worst part of these jobs is that you know it’s likely the patient will die when you start”, the paramedic continues: “I wish more elderly patents were offered DNR orders so we didn’t subject them to undignified treatment”.
Fridays can be slow days, as the report shows. Paramedics are often used as transport links for people who can’t travel themselves but don’t need to be in hospital 24/7. These are non-urgent transfers but are still necessary to keep elderly patients within helping distance.
The night-shift comes with connotations of disaster. We’re not sure why but a paramedic lives and breathes for this kind of potential danger. Going solo in a car rather than an ambulance, hospitals often split their medics into separate vehicles to cover more ground.
Halfway through the shift, a patient is called to be transferred to the hospital but it isn’t safe to go by car. The dispatcher says that there aren’t any vehicles available and so, against the paramedic’s better judgement, the patient and their spouse are piled into the car.
Despite being stable enough, if something goes wrong, the car isn’t equipped to deal with the worst case scenario. “It’s occasions like these when the grey hairs start forming”. Luckily, the patient makes it through and all’s well.
Another night shift. The paramedic is back in the ambulance on the way to a dying patient who doesn’t want to be moved from their home. In these situations the medics have to respect the wishes of the patients and hope there’s enough crew nearby if something does go wrong.
On the way to another pick-up the crew has to redirect themselves to a heart attack just around the corner. The paramedic finds a bystander being an everyday hero with excellent CPR. The sufferer is given two shocks and the blood is pumping again. With some surgery that night the patient is conscious and moving by the next day.
Reflecting on the hard-working service folks makes you reassess how appreciative you should be for all their effort and care for people like us – here’s to them.