"To know one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
"Engine 10 to Rescue 1, eighty year old female, respiratory distress, possible CHF.”
“Rescue 1, received.”
We turned the corner onto a narrow dead end street just off of Broad. The door of the last house on the left was open, frenzied activity just beyond the threshold.
“Get the chair,” I said to Adam and entered the home.
“230/115, pulsox 68%,” said Ted as I approached the patient. She was struggling to breathe, her lungs full of fluid. The oxygen mask covered the bottom half of her face, her eyes were panicked. Adam set the chair up next to her, the guys from Engine 10 picked her from the couch and got her ready to move. Seven or eight family members stood nearby, some worried, some afraid, some near panic.
“What is her name?” I asked.
“Auriela,” one of the women answered.
I took a nitro from the bottle I had put in my pocket and had the woman tell Auriela to put it under her tongue and let it melt. She struggled for a while, then understood. A minute later we were in the rescue, Ted applying EKG leads, Adam starting an IV and myself preparing an albuterol treatment.
“I’ll give you a driver and an extra set of hands in back,” Frank, the officer of Engine 10 said, closing the rear doors of the rescue.
We began our journey toward Rhode Island Hospital, three of us in the back with the patient, a firefighter from Engine 10 driving the rescue and Frank and Paul following with the engine. Another nitro en route, 40 ml of Lasix and the albuterol treatment seemed to be effective, Auriela’s eyes stopped darting, her breathing slowed as her lungs cleared and she actually managed a little smile. The frantic activity in the back of the rescue slowed in rhythm with our patients breathing. There wasn’t much more to do but comfort her, let her know she would be all right. She didn’t speak a word of English, and we barely spoke a word of Spanish, but all of us knew she was out of the woods.
We arrived at the hospital. The rear doors of the rescue opened and there stood one of our guys, an off duty firefighter from Engine 11. I looked at him for a moment, confused.
“That’s my grandmother,” he said, helping us wheel her in.
Twenty minutes later he shook my hand as we were preparing to leave.
“Thanks, Mike, you guys were incredible.”
I can’t imagine a more satisfying job than the one I have.
How do you like them apples, Ralph Waldo Emerson!