Wednesday, September 1, 2010


We were requested for a person ill, the dispatcher keeping the information to a minimum. It wasn't until I was in the rig and looking at the MDC that I read further details of our patient's illness.

We arrived on scene and the patient's wife met us at the door. She told us what her husband was suffering from, the mere mention of it filled my heart with sadness. We walked through the door, a familiar look was present. The look of a household disrupted by the ravages of a terminal disease, a formerly orderly environment now disheveled due to more important things to handle, exhaustion and illness.

Our patient was laying in a hospital bed, one that was placed in a room where beds are not normally found. Though I had never met our patient before, I was familiar with his scars, his swollen face and the pain in his eyes.

I recognized the weakness in his voice and his searching for words, words that he knew, but  that were no longer available for him to remember.

As I took down the patients history and information from his wife, I recognized the words of a wife who was somehow holding it all together despite her living on the edge of tragedy. She explained the many medications that our patient was taking, one to do this, one to counteract that. The causes and effects were all too familiar to me, I had heard of these before.

The ambulance arrived, our patient was soon loaded onto the gurney. We talked with the patient's wife as the ambulance crew prepared to depart. She told us about how their lives had changed in the few short months since an unusual symptom had appeared. About how the symptom had quickly evolved into a diagnosis, a course of treatments and surgeries and how the multitude of adverse effects was wearing down on her husband.

She also knew the inevitable outcome, though she still held hope in her heart that some miracle treatment was coming in the next few weeks, one that would somehow save her husband.

As we left the scene, the similarity between this call and the experience of a friend of mine was so close,  It choked me up. It was like watching a scene from a re-run. I know what is in store for our patient and his wife, I have seen this show. I wish I could ensure a different ending, but I know that is not to be.

Thanks for reading,


  1. Calls like this can be hard, especially when they hit close to home. It sounds cheesy, but I think that a quality somewhat unique to our service is that no matter what happened on the last run, when the bell goes off, we'll hop back on the rig ready to do it all over time and time again. I'm sure the family was glad to have "just another crew of Schmoes trying to keep the wolves at bay."

  2. Dear Captain Schmoe,
    It's true. The stories are frequently the same when it comes to end of life. And yet they are always new when we confront them ourselves.

    Thanks for being there,
    Ann T.

  3. Wow, an uncomfortable deja vue as I read your post. It sucks and is repeated with our 9-1-1 callers, friends and (sometimes) immediate family.

    I feel you pain and seen the show.

    Like Ann T. said, thanks for being there.