CPR Saves!

“9-1-1, What’s Your Location” My partner asks as she answers the phone. The man on the other line tells her his location and she asks what the problem is. He begins to tell her he came into the house to find his wife slumped over and not responding. I hate these calls, you never know how the outcome is going to be. The first call I ever took for a call like this I panicked. I had only been dispatching for two weeks and I was not certified to do EMD (Emergency Medical Dispatch). My trainer took over and I listened trying to take in the proper technique. There is not much of a technique to it you just mainly follow your cards and the instructions on it. It can be hard to listen to the panic in their voice and have them focus long enough to have them do CPR on their loved one. You have to remember you are the one in control and that you need them to get it together so we can try and save their loved ones life. “Okay we have help on the way, but I need you to help me now and do CPR. Have you done it before?” “Yes, he tells my partner” Great I think to myself as I dispatch officers and first responders to the call, I try to help my partner and handle the radio and get as much help as I can to the area. CPR will take a lot out of a person, especially one by himself. “I need you to place the base of your hand in the middle of her chest between her nipples, and then place your other hand on top. You are then going to do 30 compressions and then 2 breathes into her mouth.” He tells her he has to put the phone down and he doesn’t know how to put it on speaker. My partner tells him that's okay and she assures him he is not alone. Silence encompasses the room as he does the compressions and we wait tensely awaiting him to come back to the phone. I think back to that first call I listened to and remember the emotion that was flowing in the room from over the phone. You could feel the love of these two people the one needing saved and the one doing the saving. It was hard for them to push down and feel the breaking of bones as the ribs crack beneath the compression stroke, but that is normal and you have to assure them of that. The CPR compression is over two inches down, and that is the only way to get to the heart. Your arms are stiff to get the maximum compression and that can way on your stamina, its worse than doing five pull ups on a bar above your head. This is the exhaustion of saving a life. “We need to do two breathes. Lean her head back a little and you will pinch her nose and cover her whole mouth and blow into it. Make sure the chest rises each time.” Silence again as he sets the phone down to do it. CPR is a 50/50 chance at life, and the odds get slimmer with time, but sometimes you can beat those odds. I remember a call two months into working, when a call came in for a non responsive male who was not breathing. The caller couldn’t give us how long he had been in this state. My trainer started CPR instructions as EMS and other personnel were sent out to help. It took twenty minutes before help arrived and could take over for the CPR. We heard later that he made it, and that CPR had saved his life. That is when you rejoice and remember this is why you do this job. My partner talks the man through two more sets of CPR and encourages him the whole way. ‘What a trooper’ I think in my head. The exhaustion only would get to me, much less having to do CPR on my wife. A few minutes before the ambulance arrives he states he can’t go on, it’s took everything he had to get this far and he emotionally and physically drained. He begins telling us we need to call family. Provides us with names, but can’t remember any phone numbers. That’s ok I can find phone numbers pretty quickly and have a few tools at my disposal to help with that. I begin to kick into gear and locate family and give them a call to advise them they need to be going to this residence. I feel for them as I hear the grief in their voice as they tell me they are on their way. The hardest part of the job is delivering news like this over the phone, but it is something you have to do sitting in this chair. As the ambulance and officers start checking on scene, we know this call is about to end and our night is going to get longer. Not only does the silence on the radio mess with your mind but the not knowing. You see as a dispatcher you sit in the chair and take the call as the true first responder you may not always know how it ends. You put your heart and soul into the call get the responders to the scene, but unless you get a phone call from an officer or overhear a phone call somewhere that gives details you may never know until you check the obituary or read it in the newspaper. That is the tough part of the job, but it doesn’t mean I don’t still love my job. After what feels like an eternity of silence we start getting radio traffic again. This time to let us know units are heading to the ER. As the EMS unit goes enroute to the hospital I ask if they can advise if CPR is still in progress. They tell me yes, and I call the ER to let them know that a unit is coming in with CPR in progress. I well oiled machine starts moving throughout the area as we start getting responses from other units that will be going to the ER to assist in unloading the patient. We are all trying hard to increase the chance of survival, I just hope its not in vain. Fifteen minutes later the EMS arrives at the hospital and delivers the patient to the hospital so their work can begin. After a few moments we get all units check back in service and everybody goes about their regular work for the night, but as a dispatcher I can tell you that we all will have that on our minds for the night and it will affect you more than you think. I often make the joke that the door is not busting down from all the people who want to do this job. It’s not for everyone and sometimes you can surprise yourself how calm you can be in the worst situations, but it is my job to assure the caller that we are their to help them and keeping them calm is sometimes the best way.
'Behind The Call' stories while taking from some real life experience should be taken as fictional. Any similarities to actual names, locations etc. are purely coincidental.

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