Saturday, September 15, 2007

Middle of the night adrenaline rush

So I'm at work. You can probably guess when I'm working and when I'm not due to the proliferation of blog posts...opposite to most of you, I have more time to blog while I'm at work than I do while I'm at home. And more time to sit around and think.
Last night we were busy from 6:50 (we start at 6:30 in the evenings) until 11:45, when we got back to the station and fell asleep for a bit. At 1:20 the pager went off and my partner yelled and I swore because it scared us out of a deep sleep. We scrambled around to get our boots on and find our purses and get our jackets and stethoscopes, and thundered down the four flights of stairs to the ambulance, still half asleep. Our dispatcher then radioed us the dreaded words: "Code 3 for the 10 month old baby in acute respiratory distress," and what we call 'the pucker factor' shifts into high gear. All of a sudden it's not the middle of the night for us, because we are as awake as one can be, and swearing out loud. The baby in distress calls are not ones we like, obviously! 'The pucker factor' is something I'm going to leave to your imagination, but is quite a funny description of paramedic fear involving certain sphincters.
So we're wide awake and my very conservative driver is revving up the hills wishing she had wings, and I'm trying to remember my name, let alone what I'm supposed to do with a baby in distress. Advanced Life Support was driving up from the North Shore and the Infant Transport Team was close behind them. This tells me that when dispatch took the call, they heard a VERY distressed infant over the phone and the pucker factor shot up a notch!
We found the house, climbed 40 or 50 stairs to the front door (this IS Lions Bay, built on a cliff) and encountered a very, very cute baby. When he was calm and happy, he was fine. When he got upset, he barked and wheezed and panicked and turned blue, waking up the whole house in his distress~classic croup. The sphincter returned to its normal position. Ah! I can deal with croup, no problem. This baby was so cute I wanted to eat him up with ice cream, I swear it. Most babies would find a middle of the night visit from a group of strangers incredibly scary and overwhelming but this guy thought we were having an impromptu party with six firefighters and two paramedics, mom, dad, and his grandparents! He was flirting up a storm! When Ayden was 18 months old I called an ambulance for his croup, so I did for this baby what that crew had done for mine, and gave him saline (water) in a nebulizer (mister) and got his mom to hold it close to his face, but not on it. Again, most kids would be like "GET that away from me," but this little guy was like, "Can I eat that?" chomp, chomp. Perfect.
ALS arrived as we were walking down the driveway, carseat in hand and mist blowing. They took him into their ambulance for an assessment and told me I did a great job, and that my saline nebulizer was a fantastic idea. I didn't tell them I stole it from someone else. :-) His wheezes had subsided and the barking breath sounds only re-presented themselves if he cried or laughed out loud. He was flirting with ALS and wanted to play with all their tools. He was mad when they put a monitor on his finger to check his oxygen levels (I had tried but our probe is built for an adult so I couldn't get a reading) because he just wanted to eat it. ALS took him to the hospital and we joked after they left that they took him not because he was sick enough for ALS but because he was so cute! This of course was only marginally true, as he was sick enough for them. They have drugs they can put in that nebulizer to help him breathe which we can't give.
That baby was juicy.
His mom was so apologetic because he seemed so much better once he was calm, but I told her that she did the right thing. Croup can be very dangerous if it gets out of hand, and he needed an ambulance.
Parents out there: if your baby gets croup, take it to the doctor. If it develops in the middle of the night, take it to the hospital. If they seem particularly distressed or they turn blue while crying, call an ambulance. It is always, always better to be on the safe side.
It took me a few hours to come down from the adrenaline rush of that call, I tell you. Luckily we had a few other calls before we got back to the station, otherwise I would have lain in bed wide awake for quite awhile...of course, this meant we went to bed at 5 am...yucky...

1 comment:

Dana said...

I really enjoy hearing details about your work and your perspective and insights.... keep 'em coming!