Life in Da City! · Overdoses

War Story The First

27 July 2017.

Taking an Overdose to The Second Best Trauma Hospital in Da City (SBTHIDC): “Breathe!”

Let’s see if I understand this “blog” thing. In addition, I suppose we’ll see if I can translate my Tales Of The Dark Side narrative style to a screen. Let me know, OK?

So, this is No Shit ©, There I was, Fighting Disease and Saving Lives In Da Big City ©. As was not uncommon at that point in Da City’s history, EMS received a call for an overdose. Shocker, right? Further compounding the shock, my partner, Doug (Not His Real Name), and I caught that run. So, fleet of accelerator and steely eyed for Clovers in their natural habitat {(a) on the road, and (b) in front, or on a collision course with the Battlestar Galactica that was a Big City Ambulance}, we arrived on the scene.

In some regards, heroin overdoses were rather adult-adult transactions, with a minimum (generally) of drama and hidden agendas. It typically ran along the lines of “He’s too high, he’s fucking up our party, y’all snatch him on up, and carry him on down to the hospital!” (translated from Street into more easily transcribed neo-English). Conveniently enough, said action plan would minimize our time on scene, with a couple of beneficial effects. First, (OF COURSE!) was expeditious transport of this ill soul to higher medical care, and a life changing resuscitation courtesy of The Ghawd Narcan, and, secondly, enabling my partner and I to elope from the free fire zone that such a scene had potential to develop into, and do so in a time frame calculated to have us safely away before said fireworks unfolded.

Well, on this particular day, Doug was driving and I was medic-ing. We announced ourselves (“Fire Department!”), were admitted, and found Mr. Hypoxic inert, supine, but, par miracle’!, breathing. Well, sorta. He was breathing every 15 seconds or so. Doug handed me the BVM*, and skedaddled to the truck to retrieve the cot.

While I waited, I noted that Mr. Hypoxic seemed to move air OK, when he remembered that this was sorta important. I wondered if reminding him of this little chore would be productive, and so bellowed “BREATHE!” into his ear.

He breathed.

I wondered if this was a “one of”, or a replicable experiment in assisted respirations, and so, again, bellowed “BREATHE!” into his ear.

Again, he breathed.

I love it when a random thought produces an actionable plan.

When Doug returned with the pole stretcher, we rolled Mr. Hypoxic onto it and trundled out into the street, onto the cot, and into the ambulance, me hollering, “Breathe!” every 5-10 seconds or so. He continued to breathe.

Doug radioed dispatch, advising them of our priority two transport to The Second Best Trauma Hospital in Da City (SBTHIDC), and then dialed up said SBTHIDBC on the hospital alert radio (in those days called “the HEARN”, for Hospital Emergency Alert Radio Network, and on VHF. Ah, yes! The days before 800 mhz!). He supplied the abbreviated version of Mr. Hypoxic’s story, and then focused on driving a near-code through city streets. (I did mention The Clovers, right? They’re everywhere!)

Once we arrived, Doug and I debussed Mr. Hypoxic, and we strolled into the triage area of TSBTHIDBC, where Mallory the triage nurse, and my then-current girlfriend, awaited us. She looked puzzled when I wasn’t ventilating my patient, and that puzzlement only grew when I commanded, “BREATHE!”, for, like, the 1200th time. He breathed, again, of course.

So, what happens when you don’t yell at him like that?”

Uh, he kinda doesn’t breathe……BREATHE!…..See?”

She looked unpuzzled. “Uh-huh…(pivot, poke head into resident’s room) I need a doctor in here, right stat like!” (pivot to me and Doug) “Put him in the trauma room!”

Some people don’t really seem to appreciate whimsy, very much.

*BVM: bag-valve-mask. A device for introducing room air into the lungs of a nonbreathing person, by compressing a bag, pushing the air from that bag through a one way valve into the mouth (and therefore airway) of said person via a mask. Releasing the bag allows it to self inflate, and the patient to exhale, so you can repeat the whole process again. And again. And again…

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FNG here. How-De-Do!

I’m an old stretcher ape. Started in EMS a long, long time ago, working in, and for Da Big City. Worked my way through nursing school, and eventually went to grad school, in my capacity of Official Old Fart. I’m chock full of stories, all of which begin with the obligatory disclaimer, followed by the Mark One, Mod 0 preamble: “This is no shit! There I was, fighting disease and saving lives….”