When we work together, great things happen
Dispatch, a homeless man, medics, firefighters and ER staff all played their part in this save
Editor's note: What was your best team save? With EMS Week 2013 approaching — and its theme of "EMS: One Mission. One Team." — we want to hear about your TEAMSTRONG moment. Submit your story on when teamwork saved the day on EMS1 or on the EMS1 Facebook page by May 14 and you'll have the chance to win some cool prizes. Need inspiration? Check out Michael's article below of when teamwork helped save a patient's life — and then tell us about the moment your team came together to save or change a life.
"Rescue 1 and Engine 10, respond to 1035 Broad Street for a man down."
"Why are they sending an Engine company?" asked my partner, a new guy who knew everything. "It's just another drunk."
"You'll figure it out."
I heard the slight urgency in the dispatcher's tone and knew that she sensed something in the caller's voice other than the usual intoxicated person call.
I scanned the horizon, looking for the patient. The scene through my windshield resembled a set from The Walking Dead; semi and fully intoxicated persons wandered about aimlessly, homeless for the most part, restless, hungry and unsteady. One of the regulars, "Junior," waved us over.
"He's over here," he said, unsteadily leading us around the corner where a man in his 40s sat on a curb, leaning on a building, clutching his chest.
"What happened?" I asked. Junior spoke to the guy in Spanish then translated to me.
"He's been working on the new barber shop over there," he said, pointing at some new construction across the street. "Felt his chest thump, then lots of pain. He can't catch his breath. He thinks he's going to die."
The crew from Engine 10 arrived on scene, two firefighters retrieved the stretcher from my rescue, and my old partner, Renato, joined us next to the patient.
"Mornin' gang, looks like a possible MI; Renato, grab a 12-lead while we get him ready to roll."
Renato hooked him up to the EKG machine while my partner assessed vitals and readied the 02. Just as the results were printed, a non-rebreather went over the man's face, the stretcher appeared, Junior helped us load the man onto it and we were back in the truck.
"220/130, rate of 110," said my partner.
"Stemi," I said, looking up from the EKG. The crew got to work as I sent the image to the ER. An IV was established while nitro and aspirin was administered. One of the firefighters got in front to drive, Renato stayed in back with the new guy and me.
Junior closed the doors for us, a big smile on his face, his work done for the day. He even gave the obligatory ambulance door double thump as we left the scene, leaving an imprint of his big paw prints clearly outlined over the road grime that had accumulated.
Seven minutes from our time on scene to the door of the ER, two IVs had been established, a 12-lead was in a cardiologist's hands, a STEMI team began assembling, meds were on board, oxygen flowing, vitals re-assessed and the most important part – a stable patient whose life will continue was conscious and smiling on our stretcher.
He was in the cath lab less than an hour after the onset of symptoms.
The dispatcher heard something in the voice of the caller and sent the proper resources, our relationship with the homeless alcoholics led to one of them being willing and able to offer some needed assistance, a crew of ALS trained firefighters on scene, and an ER staffed, trained and ready to handle cardiac emergencies all combined to give a guy working on a barber shop the chance to finish what he started.
Dispatch. The Homeless. The Ambulance. The Firefighters. The ER. When we work together, great things happen.