Sunday, May 30, 2010

Things They Don't Know

The general public doesn't know a whole lot about medicine, for the most part. They don't need to, and often, they don't want to. I've lost track of the number of patients I've seen who are on medications that they do not know the reasons for. Lost track of the people I've talked to who don't understand their own medical conditions and/or who misinterpret doctors' instructions.

I am frequently amazed by the fact that most people don't know, and don't want to know, how to do CPR. Appalled by the nearby retirement community where the resident council REFUSES to allow an AED on the premises, because they are afraid of being resuscitated. What about any visitors?

And so it goes, on down to the number of times I've heard dispatch say the patient is "unresponsive," which is, apparently, the only way laypeople know how to describe someone who has any sort of altered level of consciousness.

Today, I was glad.

Got a call for an unresponsive elderly patient. On a day when I knew I'd be first on scene alone, my usual cohort being out of the country, and neither of us ever knowing if anyone else will show up at all. Such is the life of a volunteer EMT in my department. We have automatic ALS backup, which is a damned good thing, but it is not uncommon for us to go to a call and get no one else before the ambulance gets there.

All the way there, what ran through my mind was "please let this be 'bystander's unresponsive'."

It was.

I was delighted to talk with the patient. I've never been so happy to hear someone's voice.

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