Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Moments (III)

3am. Another chest pain call.

Neither of us recognize the street name. Unfortunately, neither does the mapping program on our MDC. Or the map-book.

Finally, after turning into a dead-end, thinking we were right, and groaning at the absence of the bright red marker truck, we call them on the radio, get the lieutenant to guide us in.

He meets us at the door. "More like abdominal pain, not chest pain, guys." He shrugs, apologetically, as if this makes it a less important call.

Upstairs, on the bed, is a woman in her seventies. She is obviously uncomfortable, holding her belly, and rapidly trying to tell us everything we need to know about her symptoms and history.

At least, that's what I assume she's saying. I don't speak Cantonese, so it's hard to be sure. Her son tries to translate, with some success. Abdominal pain is her only complaint. Right here, pointing just above her belly button. One of the EMTs says he felt a lump there. My partner asks if it was pulsating. No, he says, he didn't think so.

As my partner leans over the bed to feel the woman's belly himself, he asks casually what the vitals are.

"Umm..." the EMT glances down at the monitor. "Pressure is 89/42. Heart rate is 48."

My partner does a beautiful double-take. I'm already going for the manual BP cuff, and toss it to him before pushing the button to run another automated pressure. Another firefighter asks what we need.

"Spike a bag," I say, "and check status of Podunk Hospital. And Big City Med Center."

The pressures are the same, and a 4 lead just shows a sinus bradycardia. My partner is concerned, and as soon as I have a wide-open 18 running in her arm, he starts saying, "Okay, let's go. C'mon, guys. Let's move."

We carry her downstairs on a blanket; as we do so, my partner and I share a terse conversation, like you do when things get serious.

"Thinking triple-A?"


"Big City Med Center? Or one of the trauma centers?"

"Big City, I think."

"Take a friend?" Nodding at the firemen.

"Yeah, maybe."

We set her on the gurney, lift it up. I lay her back and pop her legs into Trendelenburg.

"Want help with anything?"

"12 lead, I guess. See about her rate."

I nod, and we hop in the back. He bustles with oxygen and getting a second bag of fluids together while I put the 12 lead on, pondering differentials for hypotension and bradycardia in abdominal pain.

Triple A? Definitely the front-runner.
Bad GI bleed? Could be, but no history for it.
Electrolyte imbalance maybe? T waves looked okay on the 4 lead strip. Hmm.

I reach around to stick V6 on. Out of the corner of my eye I see my partner pull pacer pads out.

"Okay. How old was she? Right. Uh, hold still, ma'am."



Did we ever check hospitals? I snatch the radio off my belt.

"Firecom, Medic 601, status of Big City Med Center please."


"Medic 601, Big City shows green."

The Lifepak prints the short strip, calm and dispassionate.



Ellie said...

Nice series of posts, def worth the wait. Will your readers get any satisfying endings? (though if I don't know, I usually make up something happy)

PDXEMT said...

I haven't decided yet if there are satisfying endings or not. The idea is kind of to present the key moment in a call without telling the whole story ... but I might well wrap up the stories in the end.

penguinshrink said...

Women especially tend to have "atypical" presentations of MI.

Also, I love that my verification word is "inspre".