Reflections on an Easter Morning – EMS

Easter is a family time in the Kaiser household. Everybody gathers together, does the church thing, and as is the tradition here in the Midwest, we eat a lot as well. This Easter was no different. My wife Ginaís mother was there, my parents were in town, and a lot of other miscellaneous relatives came over to the LUTL compound for family time. The weather was beautiful and the coffee was hot.

In the morning, even though I had my own stuff to cook, I became the go-fer for my wife and her mother for groceries. They gave me their list and sent me off to the store for their last minute sundry items. The traffic was light but the after-church crowds were starting to clog the roadways on their way to wherever they were going for their own Easter family time. I was happy to be out though. It simply was a beautiful Spring day in the Midwest. The Sun was shining, the breeze was warm, and it was one of the first days nice enough so that I could finally open up the windows and let the fresh breeze sweep out the air in the car a bit. It was idyllicÖ all until I saw this:

Roadside Memorial

A grieving family had placed that beautiful memorial in the very corner where a year or so ago I had responded to and worked one of the worst motor vehicle accidents of my career. A car, driven by an elderly couple had pulled out in front of a van, which T-boned them into the spot where the memorial now stands. It ended up killing both of the elderly occupants, the Husband on scene and the wife a few days later at the trauma center. I worked the husbandÖ and I mean I really worked him hard. Altogether, we had two ambulances and two helicopters on scene. Even though I arrived on the Engine Company, I took charge of the Husband, performed an emergency extrication, and worked him as a trauma code. An EMT-Basic who I trust very much was first on scene and stated that the patient was responsive just after the incident. He told me that the patient began breathing after the EMT repositioned his airway. I worked him in the second ambulance to arrive on scene. We had the helicopter on the ground and the flight crew ready to take him when we decided to cease our efforts. Intubation, bilateral IVs, and all of our tricks couldnít reverse the massive thoracic and anterior neck trauma this poor guy had received. We decided it was futile and called it.

032508-hono-37

Iím inside the ambulance in the foreground. Iím working hard in there.

So today, on this beautiful Easter morning, Iím reminded of that dark day from which I really wonder if there was something that I could have done differently to change the outcome. Yes, I know that there were three other paramedics there with good experience. Yes, I know that we all did our best and no, we didnít make any mistakes. I am sure, in all rationality, that there was nothing I could have done differently that would have made any difference in the patientís outcomeÖ but thatís what I thought when I saw the familyís new memorial.

And itís a beautiful memorial, really.

Itís times like these when I reflect on the gifts and the burdens that all EMS people receive in their jobs that they carry on to their daily lives. I have always said that I can give nothing back to EMS that would ever compare to what it has given me. I cherish the successes and know that the failures make me stronger. Itís made me the person that I am today and I thought that Iíd share some of that with you on this Easter. Iím sure you have your own stories and I would love to have you share them as well.

Happy Easter, yíall.

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  • hilinda

    I have long thought that we carry around things that most people don't. Everywhere we go becomes the place where something happened.
    In my small community, we get ever closer to having been called… everywhere. Each house, a memory. Each intersection, each curve, we wonder whether things could or should have gone differently, we recall faces, vehicles, trauma, and sometimes the tiniest details like the small pile of CDs left on the side of the road that must have come out of the car as it rolled.
    And although some of these memories are sad, there is a sense of connection, of place, of community. I know my town, and the people in it, in a way most people never will.
    There is something about feeling each loss that also engenders appreciation.

  • hilinda

    I have long thought that we carry around things that most people don't. Everywhere we go becomes the place where something happened.
    In my small community, we get ever closer to having been called… everywhere. Each house, a memory. Each intersection, each curve, we wonder whether things could or should have gone differently, we recall faces, vehicles, trauma, and sometimes the tiniest details like the small pile of CDs left on the side of the road that must have come out of the car as it rolled.
    And although some of these memories are sad, there is a sense of connection, of place, of community. I know my town, and the people in it, in a way most people never will.
    There is something about feeling each loss that also engenders appreciation.

  • hilinda

    I have long thought that we carry around things that most people don't. Everywhere we go becomes the place where something happened.
    In my small community, we get ever closer to having been called… everywhere. Each house, a memory. Each intersection, each curve, we wonder whether things could or should have gone differently, we recall faces, vehicles, trauma, and sometimes the tiniest details like the small pile of CDs left on the side of the road that must have come out of the car as it rolled.
    And although some of these memories are sad, there is a sense of connection, of place, of community. I know my town, and the people in it, in a way most people never will.
    There is something about feeling each loss that also engenders appreciation.

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Chris Kaiser aka "Ckemtp"

I am a paramedic trying to advance the idea that the Emergency Medical Services can be made into the profession that we all want it, need it, and know it deserves to be.

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  • Comments
    Big Box vs Small Box EMS Education | Pacific Emergency Medical Training
    The Home Cook vs. the Professional Chef – What EMS Can Learn from Cooking
    […] I‚Äôve been working on this post for a couple of weeks, and then along comes LUTL and Chris Kaiser who posts on pretty much the same topic, and does a better job of it, but I‚Äôm going to post it anyway. Here’s a link to Chris Kaiser’s article. […]
    2015-08-03 15:18:25
    Two New EMS-Themed Reality TV Shows on ABC | Public Safety
    More EMS Scenarios for the Real World
    […] Real-life scenarios are a¬†powerful tool to utilize in public safety training. Watching emergency scenarios can help first responders analyze the best course of action before they are in a real-life situation. Watching real life scenarios such as those displayed on Save My Life: Boston Trauma and Boston EMS allows public safety¬†personnel to look at…
    2015-07-31 15:08:30
    Amy Lee
    The Home Cook vs. the Professional Chef – What EMS Can Learn from Cooking
    Cookbook medicine. The Medical Director of my Paramedic School...way back when...was fond of saying that. It was a term I took seriously, and wasn't afraid of branching away from those "recipes". I still take it seriously as a LPN, working geriatric dementia. Some people get stuck, or don't bother to utilize the critical thinking skills…
    2015-07-25 12:05:00
    The Home Cook vs. the Professional Chef - What EMS Can Learn from Cooking | Life Under the Lights
    Call PAPPA for Chest Pain – A helpful Mnemonic for Paramedics and EMTs
    […] a pulmonary embolism, aneurysm, pneumothorax, pericarditis, or an acute coronary syndrome (PAPPA for chest pain) and know how to differentiate between and tailor their treatment towards those […]
    2015-07-24 10:15:23
    Ckemtp
    The Home Cook vs. the Professional Chef – What EMS Can Learn from Cooking
    You're the guy? I knew I had a chef or two in the audience! Thanks for the kind words.
    2015-07-23 18:12:00

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