Hope Lives Where Death Seems T

1059 words - 4 pages

Hope Lives Where Death Seems to Dwell "East Texas E.M.S." "I need an ambulance!" "O.K., Ma'am, what's the problem?" "A man's been shot! Get here fast!" "Alright, now. Slow a little. What's the location?" In the call received above, practical training was working in unison with academic skills. Normally, this was not an injury in which the victim would survive to speak. Don Elbert had taught me most everything I knew. Before the dispatcher even got off the line, Don and I were already in Unit #6601. We knew the initial direction of the distress call, and we were on our way. The exact location was quickly radioed to us.When we arrived, we found innumerable lights flashing and what seemed a legion of law enforcement officers. As is not unusual in a violent call such as this, there were no witnesses to the act except the victim. As I approached the victim, it was apparent that this was not a shooting. It was, in actuality, a man lying in the water filled gutter stabbed through the breastbone. He lay on his stomach with his head turned to the right. He had a punctured heart. After perhaps 30 seconds of a field assessment, I saw a man with an extremely light pulse, the slightest of breathing, and a blood pressure of 40/0. The intruding knife used was no larger than a small blade pocketknife, one-quarter inch at its breath. It was similar in size to the knife that my father carried religiously in his pants pocket. The signs I noted in my evaluation, coupled with the knowledge of other signals, pointed to one thing . . . pericardial tamponade.This type of injury is usually fatal. Already, the man had lain in the street far too long, approximately 30 minutes, without adequate oxygen. I applied a sophisticated piece of equipment to him, Military Anti-Shock Trousers (MAST). This "magic" device, when inflated, pushes a liter of blood from each of the lower three body quadrants to the vital organs: the heart, lungs, and liver. After the administration of the MAST, the man's blood pressure was made to rise to a not so promising 50/0. When we finally got the patient "packaged," I breathed for him with a ventilating mask device while in route to the Trauma Center at East Texas Medical Center.Another classic sign of this malady, pericardial tamponade, was present. My partner confirmed it. Every time I gave him a breath, the patient lost a palpable pulse due to the extreme pressure within the chest cavity. With the patient not conscious and able to make his own choice, I chose Medical Center because of their expertise and the fact that they were at that time the preferred trauma center in east Texas. This was their specialty, as was it the Emergency Trauma Physician's on duty that night, Doctor Thomas.After what seemed an eternity, but was in fact only approximately fifteen minutes, we arrived at the emergency room. I continued breathing for the victim even as we were hurrying him into Trauma Room 2. As was customary, the physician relied...

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