Sunday, June 03, 2007

Family Reactions

Mark's posted about a "Purple Plus" we went to while he was out with us.

A comment from one of his readers (who I assume is also one of my readers as I'm linked from her blog) reminded me of a job I went to when I was a mere trainee.

EmmaC said she felt like she "wanted to shake them and hit them , make them save him" with regards to the tragic death of her son.

It reminded me of a job a did a few years ago.

I was on a long term secondment covering the line of a technician who had gone on the car.
The job was given as an elderly female in cardiac arrest.

We'd just come "green" after a job into the hospital that was literally just around the corner from the call. We made our way there, and were second on scene behind the FRU.
As I got out of the ambulance, a plate smashed against the side of the ambulance. I dived back in. A moment later, the paramedic on the FRU appeared, and informed us that the patient was "purple", i.e. dead, and there was nothing we could do to change it. The son, who was on scene, had been told this by the FRU, and had gone "mad". The FRU paramedic had left the flat in a hurry in fear of her safety, leaving her kit on scene.

The police arrived in double-quick time, but we made it clear to them that the reason for the male to be violent was probable because he found it hard to believe his mum had passed away.

They subdued him, without arresting him, which I was pleased about, and we were able to formally fullfil the necessary requirements for the recognition of adult death.

We don't like not being able to do anything for a patient, even if it's the right thing at the time, but we accept it as part of the job.

Even when the family think there is something we can still do. We do have every sympathy for the families this type of event affects, and we hope we don't get too many of them....but dealing with them is part of our job. And that sometimes means realising that families sometimes think that we should be able to do more than we can. All we can do is offer our sympathies and care for the families as much as we can at the time.


Blogger Em's way said...

Thanks for being so understanding. The crew who came to my son did their best, but my son Jack had been born too soon, he was 27 weeks of pregnancy, and at that time (14 years ago) babies bornt hat early just did not survive. Now things have moved on and babies can survive. I like to think that the developments were because of babies like Jack, if thats true or not I don't know but its my comfort.

The paramedics were brilliant with me, and I know that if they could have saved him, if there had been a chance for him then they would have done it.

I have also seen paramedics unable to get out of their ambulance because of raging mobs. Thats another story though and one I will write about later :)

4:56 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

no doubt it's a tough job... but sounds like you're doing it pretty well

5:41 pm  
Blogger Iain MacBain - or maybe not!!?? said...

I don't want this to sound crass but there is an element of the "magic wand" that people expect. I blame casualty and the likes.

I hate when it's necessary to assault someone who is patently dead. This happens in certain circumstances. We break ribs, plunge tubes down throats and generally know when we should not.

When the big man knocks it's usually a good sign that times up. I don't like this but the reality is that it's the family that deserves our care and empathy.

1:01 am  
Blogger Marcus said...

Now, I'm more likely to defend the practice of running a code for the family. Personally, the only time it's been an issue for me was when we was just as much running the code for ourselves, sine the patient was a 5 year old.

In any case, I think that the practice of running family codes tends to help the family have some time to adjust to the notion of the death, not to mention that it tends to get them to the hospital where there are actual support personnel for them, clergy, psychiatrists etc. And as a final, somewhat horrible yet utterly practical point, the practice of running family codes is just that, practice. How often do you get a chance to run a code, to make sure you know how? And it's certainly the most important series of skills we have.

1:26 am  

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