Tuesday, January 15, 2008

20 something year olds shouldn't die

My first nightshift was fairly busy. I didnt' work nights as a student, so this was my opportunity to see if I could transition and stay up all night. At first it was fairly steady, if not slow. Around 0200 patients that were on hold were finally settling down for the night, and we didn't' have many in the waiting room.

Suddenly, the ambulance phone rings. My preceptor picks it up. It is dispatch, warning us that we were getting a 26 yo male VSA. As she is announcing this, my adrenaline pumps through my body. "This is what I have been waiting for", I think to myself. I have spent 8 years as an advanced first aid volunteer, I teach CPR, yet I have only done it once. This is my first experience with a code in the hospital. I try not to look too excited, as the story could change and as far as we know the patient is fine. However, there is a definite spike in energy in the staff, and it is decided that my preceptor and another nurse would be in the room, and the 3rd nurse will do triage and also take care of the rest of the patients. Being a small-town hospital, when we get a code in the ER at night, staff from the other floors are called down to help.

We wait in anticipation to get confirmation of the code. 5 minutes later, dispatch calls again. Confirmed, 26 yo male VSA, 2 minutes out. My preceptor gets on the phone and calls the code, and we prepare by getting on gowns and masks. Time inches by, it seems. It look longer then we expected... apparently the guy is not doing well at all, and the medics were going to try to get
him called on the scene. We waited, and we waited. 20 min later the ambulance calls, base hospital doesn't want to call it because of how young he is. He is on route.

Finally the ambulance arrives. The patient is pretty blue, and by that time the medics have been working on him for over 40 minutes. There was minimal chance we were going to get him back. I wasn't expecting to do much, but I got to do compressions, along with another nurse. My preceptor and an ICU did the medication pushes, and the Doc gave the breaths and watched the monitor. We didnt have much hope for him to return, and unfortunately, he did not make it.

This really made me think because apparently this gentleman played sports earlier, felt unwell and went to lie down. His fiance went to check on him and found him unresponsive. What caused his death? As of right now, no idea. There was no signs of trauma, and from the story it didn't sound like a drug overdose. He was the same age as me.

More and more 20-somethings are getting heart attacks, or other cardiac related symptoms. The nurses in emerg were saying how they are seeing more and more young people dying of cardiac related causes. This man had no history of heart problems, and yet he too passed.

Recently I have known that there have been some other 20-something related VSA's that some of my pre-hospital first response colleagues have responded to. It makes you really think about taking care of yourself, and cherishing the moment you have with loved ones.. you never know what can happen.


Kal said...

The first one is always hard, you're whipping your head back and forth trying to take it all in while concentrating on your compressions. For your first to be so young is especially difficult.
But there'll be more, next time you'll be calmer, absorb more, ask more questions.
And by the time you've done a dozen or so?
You won't even remember them.

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