12 July 2016
Alex describes a call on his final week of first year placement - to a baby that might have suffered a cardiac arrest.
The 10th and final week of placement has dawned upon me. First year of university has been eye opening and I truly can’t describe in full how great of an experience it has been. I finished my second placement block by having three eight-hour late shifts during the week and I attended every job we went to.
One of the calls in the early evening came through the MDT (Mobile Data Transfer) as a 1-month-old boy in Cardiac Arrest. This sent shivers down my spine and even my mentor and crewmate looked quite pale. I’m amazed at how one minute we can be having a laugh and a joke, but at any given moment we can easily put that all to one side and be extremely professional clinicians. As we were already very close to the address we arrived within two minutes and set about locating the property. This proved difficult as it was hidden away in a block of flats that was poorly sign posted. I can’t stress enough how helpful it is, especially in a time-critical/life threatening situation, that we are able to find the address!
As I was attending, I entered the property first, closely followed by my Paramedic mentor and crewmate. The family member who answered the door seemed eerily calm, but when we walked upstairs I was overwhelmed to hear the sound of a crying baby. Thankfully it was not as given, however the mother stated that her child stopped breathing for a minimum time of 45 seconds; we call this an Apnoeic Period. She also said he went blue around the lips and nose, this is medically referred to as central cyanosis and the baby turned hypoxic. Believe it or not, for a baby to stop breathing for a short period of time is actually quite common and can easily be mistaken for the worst. It was extremely distressing for the mother so essentially we had two patients.
I set about taking the child’s basic observations; he was colic, non-consolable, had a heart rate of 160/min and a respiratory rate of 65+/min. This was not in normal ranges which was quite concerning given the history. Once in the ambulance the baby was consolable however his respiratory rate did not go down so we decided to ‘blue light’ him in to the nearest Emergency Department as a priority. Once we completed the paperwork and got back in the ambulance I think we all took a big deep breath or two.
So now that placement is over for Year 1 as a Student Paramedic, I only have three weeks left at university before we break for summer. I have still to do a few practical exams as well as submitting 3000 words. Time has flown by and I have loved every minute of it.
Alex studies Paramedic Science at ARU. You can find out if you have what it takes to become a paramedic at one of our Paramedic Science Taster Days.