This morning around 2 AM my fire department pager goes off. It's a first-responder call with Princeton Rescue Squad. 75 year-old unresponsive female patient.
Ok. I'm at work so I can't go on the call, but since the firehouse is in my patrol area, I do go to the station and get everything ready for whoever responds, get the rig started, bay doors opened...
So I do that and the only person to respond to the page besides myself is the Chief. Crunch time. I really hope my boss doesn't see me do this... I hop in the shotgun seat and we head out, lights flashing. I'm glad he's driving because I haven't a clue where this job is.
We find the house with no problems, I grab the BLS bag & O2 and head in with the Chief.
Sparing the details (which I couldn't give anyway) we find exactly what dispatch had reported. The Chief begins to take the vitals as I start to record everything. BP, pulse, O2 level... Here's where it became baffling to me... Some things never seem to change no matter where I'm at.
I ask the live-in "caretaker" how long she's been unresponsive...
"Since about 5 o'clock last night..."
I'm thinking at this point, and you had to wait until 2 AM to call us?' but I keep my mouth shut. Next I ask what her meds were...
They're there on the dresser..."
OK. So now I've got to go through and write down the entire pharmacopoeia sitting there. Now for my next question... "Any allergies?"
"I'm not sure..."
Great... You're a big help. "What's her history?" (i.e.; COPD, CVA, stroke, diabetes, malaria, Bubonic Plague, Yellow Fever, creeping cruds, crotch rot...)
"I don't know..."
The squad arrived at this time and we turned everything over to them, giving them what information we had. But I couldn't stop to wonder what kind of requirements one needs to be a live in 'caretaker' but one would think that you should at least have some idea of why you're taking care of someone in the first place.
The Chief and I help load the patient into the ambulance and cleared the scene. He wasn't feeling all to well so he let me drive the rig back to the station... (Backed it into the bay perfectly, first try, by the way...)
I headed back to work but all I kept thinking of was that live in 'caretaker' and her Dan Quale, deer-in-the-headlights look and prayed to God that if I ever get that old and infirm the person taking care of me would have at least some idea of what was wrong with me...
But I could be asking just a little too much with that.
Copyright 2005 Thomas J Wolfenden