Standby for Tones Blog
The whole way there I had pulmonary edema on the brain. Dispatch information wasn’t very alarming; “70s male, shortness of breath, coughing up blood.” But as soon as my boots hit the garage floor, that’s all I kept thinking. I’ve had three calls before with pulmonary edema – and two of those times it was the same patient. I’ve never been to this address, and despite nothing screaming clearly in the dispatch information, my gut says its pulmonary edema. 3am thoughts or gut instinct?
So the trip out to the country road consists of me, all the way awake in a way you understand if you’ve ever seen pulmonary edema – bonus points for the pucker factor that is flash pulmonary edema – I’m chattering. My partner is an EMT tonight and he’s still waking up. He bears with me though. I explain what we will need to do in a short period of time if it is pulmonary edema. He gets it, he’s a great partner and I know I can concentrate on what I need to do. Knowing he will do what needs to be done and he isn’t the sort of partner who requires a lot of hand holding and validation.
We arrive on scene, he puts it in park and I hop out the passenger side, round the side corner and spy a man approaching. He’s well dressed, fully dressed, and walking spryly. Coat neatly zipped up to the chin. Dapper hat atop his head. He looks like a retired cowboy, tan skin and western button up shirt. I ask if he’s the patient and he nods. I’m able to get the side door open and my patient is loading himself right up the steps before I can say much. Climbing up after him, I catch my first auditory of my patient.
Pucker. Factor. Right there. Right now. Yep, we’re about to do medicine. I nod at my partner, and we go to work in the choreographed steps we worked out while the truck winked and blinked its red and blue strobes down this back road and across the corn still waiting to be harvested.
Sublingual nitro – check. CPAP – check. IV – check. Nitro drip – check. Furosemide – check.
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"Standby for Tones" is a blog written by Crystal Wallin, a La Crosse paramedic. Her stories, written from real life events, bring to light the human experience in having an EMS career and work life. >> Click to read more on Crystal's blog page.