I have often heard Medics
say things like “He was way gone, but we worked the Code for the family”, or
“It was just easier to Code him and go, plus it’s always good to practice.”
These are things I’ve said and done myself, and so I understand the logic behind
it. That does not make it right.
These are uncomfortable
situations for many Medics, particularly the less experienced. You really feel
like they called you here, so you should do something. We want to do
something, but what to do is more important. Maybe first I’ll share what
not to do and why.
Don’t work obviously dead
people, because dead is dead. Don’t give the family false hope. Don’t waste and
risk the expensive and inherently dangerous emergency trip to the hospital only
to get someone immediately pronounced on your cot. The family already knew in
their hearts what happened, they just did not know what to do about it so they
called 911. Imagine them watching you poke & pump, then following you to
the hospital. Getting their hopes up only to have them dashed again, borders on
being cruel. Plus, they get the bill for this abuse. The last thing the family
needs is a huge ambulance and emergency room bill, on top of all the other
responsibilities they will now be faced with.
The courageous and
compassionate Medic does what is hardest, they tell the truth. They explain
clearly and factually what has happened and how they reached that conclusion.
Then they do the only thing harder, they give this deceased persons loved ones
a hug. They need your compassion now more than they need your lights and
sirens. This stuff is tough, and it took years for me to learn it. Help the
grieving family, and show some humanity and caring for those left behind. They
need it badly at this time of crises, and you are the only one there to give
it. They are your “patient”, not the body on the floor.
years back, my wife’s only child passed away. He was terminal, but I was not
there at the time so she did the only thing she could think of, she called 911.
They did what I least expected, they told the truth and gave her a long hug.
They asked if they could call someone for her, and so she had them call me. It
took me 20 minutes or more to get there, but when I arrived the Medics were
still there waiting for me. They explained they did not feel comfortable
leaving her alone with her deceased child. Those two Medics have my deepest
appreciation and respect. To the rest of you, try to match their courage and
compassion. They sure had it to give, and it was exactly what was needed most
on a Mothers worst day.