“The State of New Jersey says I'm still an EMT."
The traffic on Main Street at this time of the afternoon moved aside before the ambulance drove near. Chelsea wondered what angels had arranged it so the two-mile trek took a few minutes instead of the ten on a bad day.
“Dispatch Unit 79 on scene. What's the ETA of the medics?"
“They're enroute to the hospital with a patient. They expect to be clear in ten minutes."
Bringing the unit to a halt in front of the house, Chelsea shut down all but one flasher and jumped out of the rig. “Get the clipboard."
“Check," Brad answered and snapped on gloves.
Chelsea also pulled on gloves, and lifted the oxygen kit out of the rig.
She ran up the steps and pushed the door open to the two-story house. Much to her surprise, the patient sat in the front hallway up against a wall. The majority of injuries happened in the bathroom.
On the down side, his gray and sweaty pallor didn't bode well for him.
The sight of Jake sitting on the floor next to the patient stopped her for a moment. That's right, he lived next door.
She set down her kit next to Joe O'Malley, her best friend's husband. “Hey Joe, I'm going to put on some oxygen."
“Chelsea, I'm sure it's just indigestion," Joe gasped out.
That's what everybody thinks. So much so that she tells her CPR students that it's a pretty sure sign someone is having a heart attack. She glanced up at Sarah O'Malley and flashed her a reassuring smile. “Let's take a look anyway."
Sweat poured off of him. She put a mask on the end of the tubing coming from the oxygen tank, then filled the bag on it. “This will feel weird, but you won't suffocate."
Joe nodded and let her put the mask on his face. She put her gloved hand on his wrist for a pulse check.
Brad put a blood pressure cuff on his other arm and pumped it up. “One eighty over one forty."
“Not good Joe, but we're here to help. Brad's going to listen to your lungs," Chelsea said.
Joe struggled with the mask, knocking it off his face.
“Joe, it's okay. You won't suffocate." She set it back on his face.
He struggled to speak. “Sorry. Can't."
“You need the oxygen."
“Joe, do it," Sarah commanded in between whimpers. Chelsea had forgotten about her friend, having blocked out everyone, but the patient.
This time Brad put it on him.
“Where does it hurt?" Chelsea asked.
Joe pointed to the middle of his chest, his hand shaking. His eyelids dropped and his hand fell into his lap.
“Joe?" Her hand went to check for his carotid pulse. Nothing.
Sarah screamed. “Joe."
“Get him lying down," Chelsea directed.
“What's wrong?" Jake asked as he helped the patient to the floor.
“Brad go grab the AED." Turning to Jake she asked, “Can you do CPR?"
“Then start compressions."
Jake opened the man's striped pajama shirt and landmarked for CPR. He searched his memory banks and out of the depths came his training. It had been two years.
Chelsea tore a bag-valve-mask and an airway out of the green oxygen kit. She inserted the airway into Joe's mouth and placed the mask on his face. The other mask lay discarded still around his neck. “Count out loud."
“Ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen."
When he reached thirty, Chelsea squeezed air into the patient. Brad returned with the automated external defibrillator. “Medics aren't clear from the last call yet." He dropped to his knees to unpack the unit.
Sweat poured off Jake as he watched the exchange and compressed the man's chest. “Three, four, five."
“Tell them to get Mercy Seven," Chelsea demanded.
“Seven, eight, nine."
Brad relayed the request to dispatch and began setting up the AED. “Let me put these pads on."
Jake sat back on his heels as the other man applied the pads. Sarah sat on the steps and cried. He wished he could comfort her and leave the rescue to the EMT's. He could run into burning buildings, but death and dying people unnerved him.
Brad turned on the AED. “Don't touch the patient."
A voice from the machine said, “Analyzing patient now. Do not touch the patient."
Jake could hear his own breathing as he hoped for Joe to start breathing. He didn't like the gray hue of the patient.
“Shock advised. Charging. Do not touch the patient," an electronic voice said.
Jake moved further away. Chelsea pulled off the bag-valve-mask.
Brad pushed the blinking green button on the AED. Joe's body jumped a little, but not like in medical dramas.
Jake moved to continue compressions.
Chelsea's red face worried Jake. She bit her lip. He'd never seen her this upset.
“One, two, three, four," Jake counted.
“It'll time it until it's been two minutes. Keep going until the machine says otherwise."
He went to thirty and she put two breaths in with the mask. The machine cut in as he finished his fifth cycle. “Analyzing heart rhythm. Do not touch the patient."
Jake expected to have nightmares about that voice. All three shifted away from Joe who remained still and gray.
Another squad member arrived and took Sarah and the clipboard into another room.
The AED shocked Joe one more time before the paramedics rolled onto the scene.
Jake made room, but watched as the rescuers worked as if in a play. Fifteen minutes later, the paramedics pronounced Joe O'Malley dead.
Chelsea led Sarah back to her husband's body. The woman sobbed as the rescuers gave her room for her grief. The scene seemed surreal to him. He'd never watched someone die before this.
Chelsea leaned on the wall. Tears filled her eyes. Her fists clenched and released as she fought for control. He wished he could put his arms around her.
Jake stood and walked out onto the porch.
He hadn't saved the man.