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The Day I Didn't Die (by a man who isn't called Jack)

Woodruff Boy Scout Summer Camp 2009 Learning CPR-6 by johntrainor, on Flickr

Woodruff Boy Scout Summer Camp 2009 Learning CPR-6, by johntrainor, on Flickr

By now you all know Charlotte (see previous posts): she is the one that always means we have a real emergency or a bit of trauma when she is out with me for the day. This day was no exception. In the morning we were called to a 36 year old professional man talking with a client in his 1st floor office in town. Let’s call him Jack.

Jack was having a normal day at the office. Then suddenly, while discussing an important matter with his client, Jack dropped to the floor from his chair; he was unconscious. Luckily his client also quickly realised that he wasn’t breathing and had no pulse. As he desperately screamed out for help he also started to do CPR. One of the other office workers, hearing what was going on, ran over the road and dragged a health care practitioner from the local Walk in Centre (with a defibrillator) with him back to the office. Another colleague instantly dialled 999 and requested an ambulance, explaining as best she could what was going on. The practitioner from the Walk in Centre arrived within moments and delivered a shock to Jack’s heart.

The ambulance service vehicle (that’s me and Charlotte in a car) arrived within three minutes of the 999 call being started and joined the practitioner in performing CPR and then gave Jack some rather strong drugs through a cannula and two more shocks to stimulate his heart. Then, while we were all still in the office, after the third shock, Jack’s heart started to beat of its own volition and he started to breathe for himself once again.

The ambulance arrived and we then had the unenviable task of getting Jack from his office to the ambulance. It meant up-ending a large desk and moving other furniture. We also had to get the rescue board out to put Jack on to carry him down the stairs. Thankfully Jack remained stable during all of this. Once on the ambulance we did checks on his blood sugar, blood pressure and an ECG before speeding off to hospital. The shock to Jack’s system after this event caused him to get a bit agitated and difficult to manage so the anaesthetist put him off to sleep for a little while to give him a chance to recover.

Hopefully the chances of Jack getting brain damage through lack of oxygen were minimal. The client immediately started the CPR and someone called 999 to ensure that help was on it’s way promptly. You can’t ask for better than that. It’s part of what is known as the chain of survival and in this instance it worked perfectly.

I say perfectly, because a few days later I couldn’t resist popping in to the ward to see Jack – he didn’t remember me or any of what happened that day, but he was alive and very well. His wife was with him and they told me that they have a young family (two daughters of pre-school age). They were both very happy and grateful – if not a little bemused by the events. I had to ask him – but apparently he didn’t ‘see the light’.

Next week i’ll tell you about what happened in the afternoon on this shift – Charlotte struck yet again!


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  1. [...] after that call I explained to Charlotte how unusual it is to get someone back from cardiac arrest. Changes in the [...]

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