This story isn’t anything special. Nor am I anything special. I am 18 years old and received my NYS EMT in June. I fell in love with fire and EMS when I first joined the fire department in 2012.
However, I find myself struggling, caught up on something. It was a Monday night in November, we just got hit hard with a lot of snow. I dropped my boyfriend off at his station for a call and was toned out for a possible seizure call, but it was still unknown. Echo response and I’m zooming down the road, 60 in a 40, my heart bounding out of my chest.
I throw my car in park, run inside about the same time the ALS rig shows up. I walk in the house and the family is sitting in their chairs in the living room like nothing is happening. I head into the bedroom and am told to bag. CPR is in progress. I call for suction but it never comes, I keep screaming for the suction as I can’t get any air into this man.
With about 1 1/2 ft of space between the bed and the wall, myself, a new Paramedic, and my fire chief are working this man. I’m doing chest compressions, silently mumbling numbers 1-30 to keep myself calm. An ashtray falls off the nightstand and rolls off of me while I kneel in urine. I’m on top of beer cans and old TV dinners that are half eaten. I’m looking at this man and all I can think is that he is my Uncle. The resemblance is what is getting to me.
Meanwhile, the Paramedic has an IO in and we are attempting to transfer him to a backboard. I grab this mans belt and jolt him up in an attempt to get him out faster. After loading him onto the stretcher I have the Lifepak and am running behind as we race to the ambulance. A fellow firefighter and I ride along, swapping places as epi after epi is pushed. We were able to shock once, but nothing after that.
I’m sitting here, giving what my brain sees as my uncle a breath every 8 seconds. As we get going, I know an airway needs to be put in. I suction the half eaten food out of his mouth, my stomach attempting to empty itself. This has never happened, I’m starting to shake as I am clearing his mouth. We finally get a decent chest rise.
As we get to the hospital, we are sped through the doors, unloading him in the trauma bays. At this point, my job is done and I walk out, preparing to clean the stretcher. I wish I knew how to get his face out of my head. I sleep at night, waking up around 2:30 am every night replaying that scene. I feel hopeless that I will never remove this image that seems burned into my head.
But if you ask me I’m great. I’m fine, nothing to worry about. In all honesty, I’ve debated ending it. The only thing that stops me if my boyfriend coming home from work to find me… Or for my parents to see the news… I’m too afraid to ever do it, but I think about it every day… I hope one day I will be better, or at least find help.
– Story written by “91”, 18 year old EMT.