Sunday, August 4, 2013

No Dignity...

Like most people in the medical field, I've witness a lot of deaths. Deaths from medical reasons I seem to be okay with, I mean if you have a disease or condition, eventually it'll get the best of you. It's fun to do the detective work and try to turn it around.
Traumatic deaths cause me to get philosophical. One minute you're there, BAM, now you're dead. Other than the trauma causing it, I can't find the reasoning behind it other than "it was his time to go".

The Trauma Code was called out over the loudspeaker. The code was quite short. I wondered why this person wasn't just covered at the accident as a DOS (dead on scene). The patient was a broken, bloody mess. I was doing compression until time of death was called shortly after the patient arrived. I always look up at the same clock when death is called and note the time. I thought about how many times this clock was used for a death announcement when I looked at it and remembered some of the most recent deaths in this room.
I looked down at the mess of a patient. She was young. I bet, never in a million years, did she wake up this morning, shower, eat breakfast, go out with her friends and know that this was the day she was going to die.

That is why I hate trauma. It's so random.

"Is she missing part of her head?" There was a large towel saturated in blood around her head. "No, we put that there because of spraying blood".
I looked around at the numerous firefighter/paramedics, the flight crew and the ER nurses - all covered in blood and moving around to get paperwork started, equipment together. I noticed that I was bloody up to my elbows and realized I needed to scrub.
I looked back down at her, clothes cut off, spinal packaged, tubes coming out of everywhere and said my silent prayer for her like I do after every death I work.

There's no dignity in this death, or any death come to think of it. At least not the ones I witness. I hope that when I die it's either in my sleep or if it's a trauma, that they just throw a blanket on me at the accident scene. Otherwise, I think the whole CPR to the hospital is horrific. I probably won't care since I'll be dead, but for me envisioning going through it, it sucks. And another reason to hate trauma, I get too damned philosophical!


  1. Your story reminded me of the death of my friend in a logging accident. A log rolled down the hill and crushed him to death. Dad happened to be on the job that day and sawed away the log and then started CPR. The crew traded off and continued CPR until the National Guard chopper arrived.

    When the medics got there they told Dad that there was no hope and that my friend was dead. The standard protocol, as I understand it, was for them to call for the county coroner and then leave.

    But there were 6 bloodied men (my 17 y/o younger brother and arguably my friend's best friend) standing around as the medic in charge had to make his choice. I believe he looked around and decided that leaving without taking the body would be too cruel to the men who worked for over an hour to give him a chance at life.

    They transported and my friend was DOA at the hospital. He was 22.

  2. There are variations of EMS protocols concerning deaths in the field. Some agencies can call time of death, some can't and must transport. However, they must always stay with the body.

    You know I'm sorry about your friend.