A battalion chief has arrived and works with the new shift’s captain to clear the room and clear a path to load the ambulance. “C’mon, Captain!” the members urge as they wheel him into the vehicle. “C’mon, Captain, we need you!”
The engine is pulled out, blocking the street. The ambulance driver notes that the street ahead is full of police cruisers, and as he begins to move toward the hospital, cruisers block each intersection he passes.
In the back, the crew works continuously to ventilate, watch the rhythm and defibrillate three more times. But they note that each time they regain a perfusing rhythm, the patient’s blood pressure improves, and he begins to breathe on his own. The paramedic had performed an endotracheal intubation, and the tube is clear and easy to ventilate through.
The captain has a pulse and a regular cardiac complex as they enter the ED, and his blood pressure is palpated at 90 mmHg. He is breathing about 8 times a minute, and oxygenating well on the pulse oximeter. “C’mon, Captain!” the two paramedics continue to urge as they push him into the resuscitation area.
The emergency department is completely prepared. The cardiologist and emergency physician rapidly conduct an assessment, have a quick chest x-ray done, and wheel the patient to the cardiac intervention lab.
The Attack One crew retreats to the EMS room in the ED, and the crew leader addresses the group. “I am proud, and we should be proud,” he tells them. “We just gave the captain every chance we could. Everyone did a great job, and we have to trust the hospital staff now to do their best. I will do the patient care report, and we have another crew that is going to come and put our equipment back together. We are putting everyone out of service until a counselor can come and debrief. Call your spouse and let them know you are OK.”
The ED manager knocks on the door and asks to come in.
“We have no family yet, and we have called an extra chaplain for you guys,” he tells the group. “We all know the captain from his days as a paramedic, and we know this must be hard on all of you. We have set aside a separate waiting area for his family when they arrive, and the ED conference center is for your crew and department personnel. Please let us know how we can help.”
A few of the night- and day-crew ED members are with the manager, and they come into the EMS room to share a few tears and a prayer for the captain. Everyone knows this man, and how many patients he’s helped.
As they compose themselves, they exit the room and join with the many other department personnel, police officers (who also know the captain) and hospital personnel assembling.
The Attack One crew leader organizes the group. “Who is in contact with the family?” he asks.
The shift lieutenant who worked with the captain advises the group that he and the battalion chief have made those arrangements. The wife and children live about 30 miles away, and the lieutenant knows the family well. He called the captain’s wife, and the battalion chief has arranged for the fire department in the jurisdiction where they live to transport the family to the hospital. He thinks they will arrive in about 15 or 20 minutes.
The group agrees the family should be given a moment of privacy, so the large group moves to the arranged conference center room. The family will be greeted by the lieutenant outside, because they know him. He will be joined at the right time by the Attack One crew leader, the emergency physician and a nurse, who will explain the medical story. Then the family will be taken to the cardiac waiting area, where the chaplain will provide support and communication with cardiology personnel.
Just before the family arrives, some good news comes by messenger from the cardiac lab: The patient is doing well, his rhythm has stabilized, and he is beginning to move around and will need to be sedated for the completion of his treatment. The team there was anxious to let the family know.