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Cardiac Arrest and the Community



In my ten years with fire and ems, I have worked in a variety of settings; city fire, hospital ems, ICU medic, education, leadership, etc…

Recently, my wife and I moved our family to a rural community. We live in the county seat with is a population of 6,000 citizens. The county is large and has a variety of rural population and industry. The two of us (she is an RN) where recruited from a large metro city to come down here. It was tough to move from a city we loved, but we felt unsettled with our jobs, and were given a contract we couldn’t refuse. We weren’t accepting positions in our dream jobs, but it was a decision that was best for our family. We decided to live rural close to some family and commute thirty minutes to our jobs.

As part of the rural setting, I decided to join the volunteer department and was quickly picked up as a firefighter paramedic. Most career fire and ems employees have a very convoluted view of the volunteer. They view them as untrained an inexperienced. Volunteer has been the hardest position I have picked up. Being a paid firefighter, when you are done with the shift, you are done! As a volunteer, when I am done with my shift on the ambulance, I turn on another radio when I get in the car. Plus our department has on call shift for paramedics…

So, there I was, intubating my neighbor on his kitchen floor. It was a difficult intubation. Despite the insane amount of vomit, I managed to the get the tube. After some good compression’s mixed and delivery of oxygen, we managed to get pulses back. He survived long enough for his family to say good bye. Including a daughter who lived out of the country.

The life volunteering is something to adjust to. I try to make contact with hospitals and keep track of what happened to a patient; if my interventions or field diagnosis helped. But in the rural community, everyone ends up learning that YOU are the one who helped work his code. It feels weird having so many eyes on me. Some medics find it honorable. But as some one who likes to fly under the radar, I may need to adjust my attitude!

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