It was the end of a normal day at the station. The medics are just getting to bed
after running a half a dozen calls for an assorted minor medical and trauma problems. The
paperwork was finished. The reports were entered into the computer. The truck was
even restocked. They were just about into dreamland but, as with most nights at this
particular station, sleep was not to be.
Several miles away, in a small, well kept apartment, Angie Briggs, a
eighty-year-old woman awoke to the feeling that the life-giving air was being denied to
her. She tried to sit up, but the feeling would not subside. Walking made it worse. She
also noticed that, even though the temperature in her room was comfortable, she was
dripping with sweat. The longer that she waited, the harder it became to breath. So,
realizing the fact that her doctor was probably asleep, she did the next logical step, she
called her daughter, who lives in another state. The daughter realized that her mother
needed more help than she could give over the phone, tried to persuade the mother to call
an ambulance, which, of course, the mother refused to do, stating that it wasn't necessary.
The daughter then took it upon herself to call EMS from her own house.
The medics were notified of the problem through the usual method, a series of
tones over a radio that cause a loud horn to blare and all the station lights to come on,
much to the annoyance of the fire lieutenant. This alarm was immediately followed by the
dispatchers voice giving all the applicable information on this call.
"Med unit 2, respiratory call, 103 Royal Terrace Boulevard, apartment 7, in
reference to a 80 year old woman with shortness of breath."
Not that the EMS crew were listening at this point. They are busy getting into
their jumpsuits and putting their boots on. It does not matter if they are eating, sleeping,
watching TV, or even taking a shower, they are required to be in the ambulance and en
route to the scene within two minutes.
"Med Two's en route." Stated EMT Jennifer Meyers in a sleepy voice
" Copy med 2 is en route to 103 Royal Terrace Blvd., apartment 7." Now they are
listening. "This is in reference to a 80 year-old female who is in severe respiratory
distress. Received the call from her daughter that is out of state. Patient sounds very
short of breath."
"I'm pretty sure that it is in the first entrance into the apartment complex. Should
be the third or fourth building on the left", stated Doug Murphy the paramedic on duty.
It took only a few minutes for the ambulance to arrive at the scene. After dispatch
was informed of their arrival, Doug and Jennifer removed the stretcher that was already
loaded with the monitor, the airway bag, and the med box. As he approached the front
door, Doug took notice of the condition of the walkway, of the location of the bushes, and
any outside furniture that might impede exiting the house with a stretcher loaded with a
person. He did the same quick evaluation upon entering the residence.
After knocking, an elderly, heavy-set woman opened the door. The medic could
see immediately that she was is serous trouble. Her clothes were soaked, wet with sweat,
every time she took a breath, a faint popping sound could be heard. The medic also could
see the front of her neck pull in along with every breath and that her general color had a
faint, matted bluish color about her. Doug knew that without immediate treatment, this
lady would die.
Doug quickly lowered the stretcher and took the equipment off of it. "Why don't
you sit right here." Doug told Mrs. Briggs
" I'm fine, really. I told my daughter that I would see my doctor in the morning. I
don't know why she called you?" Mrs. Briggs stated. The medic was surprised that she
could talk at all.
"When did you start having trouble breathing?" Doug asked as he was turning on
the oxygen bottle
"About an hour ago. I woke up and couldn't catch my breath." Pointing to the
oxygen mask that the medic was placing on her face. "I really don't need any of that."
" I think you do. You need to let me do my job and treat you. This condition will
only get worse."
"No, I think I'll wait till the morning."
"Listen, you don't have until the morning. To be perfectly blunt, I doubt