In the spirit of the New Year, New Me and all of those other New Year's resolutions, I present to you my most recent blog post.
Early in my EMS career, I had gotten burned out so I took a prolonged break. After that break, on my first day back, my first job back was a cardiac arrest. Originally dispatched as a diabetic emergency, upon our arrival, the female patient literally died in front of us with us standing there doing an assessment. She had suffered a left ventricle failure which even on an operating table would have been a mortal injury. That bothered me for quite a while, and I often wondered why.
When I sat down to analyze it, I realized that all of the chips were in her favor that day. We were on the road going to get coffee and were already half the distance to the job when dispatched. Our ALS unit was 90 seconds behind us, we were present and had witnessed cardiac arrest, resuscitation started immediately.
Despite all of these factors, many years of neglecting diet, exercise and a laundry list of medical aliments took their toll. So here I was thinking, what can I do to fix this? Not so much for the patient but for me. I thought about my actions, could I have done anything else? Did I create any delays? Did I falter or hesitate in my actions? Was my treatment incorrect? All of them were non-events.
Finally I came to terms with something that as an educator now I feel that we fail our students at. Despite our best efforts patients will die. In education, we train you to follow your checklist and if you do it right and don't hit any critical criteria, GREAT, you succeeded. But what about the times that you do everything right (like this case) and they still die? We, as providers, have to be willing to forgive ourselves. When we look at ourselves in the mirror, replay that call in our minds and realize that we did everything within our power to have a positive outcome but it didn't turn out the way we hoped that we did not fail. We were, and are, not failures.
It took me a while to come to this conclusion and actually, more importantly, accept it. So my brothers and sisters, when you are having those hard days, forgive yourself. Allow yourself the forgiveness so you do not allow that weight to remain on your shoulders and dim the light that shines bright in all of you.
I want you to take a moment and think of your own lives, and your own careers. Have you ever have a time that you wish things had gone differently? If you close your eyes, can you still replay that situation in your head? Forgive yourself. Focus on the positive aspects of your life and those things that you do have control over. I challenge you to find one situation that you can forgive yourself for and if you wish to share it, please comment on this post.