A Little Flutter...

A contribution to NSR... an EMS writing project. Check it out here.

We were perfectly comfortable sunning ourselves on a beautiful July day. On of those days where the sky is a gorgeous blue, dotted with puffy white clouds. One of those days where you really wish you weren't working.

I'm at my "Happy Place" literally and figuratively. We're posted at the park, Marine Corp Partner and I. We're happily scarfing down our EMS lunch of Taco Bell and bottles of water.

My Happy Place

Kids are busy playing on the playground equipment. A Father and Son fish nearby. There's a group of guys playing volleyball on a sandy court across the parking lot. Two of them have their shirts off. I'm reminded of a certain scene from Top Gun. Marine Corp Partner would fit right in. All he's missing is the Ray Bans which he tells me in no uncertain terms he "Would NEVER EVER wear".

"Base to 120, One-Two-Oh"

The portable is sitting five feet away, staring us down.

Marine Corp Partner is closer... He rolls his eyes and reaches for the portable. "Unit 120. Go ahead."

"Unit One Two Oh, we're going to need you to respond to House of MRSA, Code Three for Tachycardia with Mental Status Changes. That's Code Three for Mental Status Changes."

"One Twenty is clear, put us enroute."

I'm already picking up my purse, Taco Bell bag and cell phone. Happy Place denied.


She's the quintessential Grandmother from the bluish hair to the hundreds of pictures of her grandchildren that are sprinkled throughout her otherwise stark white room. I feel a warm rush go through me. One of familiarity. She reminds me of my own Grandma.

"Ma'am... How are you feeling today?" Marine Corp Partner starts assessing her while I get the lowdown from the nursing staff.

"Ohhhh I'm doing okay. Just a little flutter in my chest." She looks at me, "My goodness you're quite tall!" I get this a lot. When you're a 6'1" redheaded female folks tend to notice. And comment on it. Constantly.

"Yes Ma'am, I sure am. I blame it on well water. I'm going to have to ask you some questions, Mrs. Grossman... Do you know where you are?"

"At MRSA. Why does everyone keep asking me that?" She laughs, but is clearly getting annoyed.

"I'm sorry to have to ask you all of these questions that you've already been asked a thousand times... Bare with me." I hold her hand and squeeze... She smiles in spite of all of the drama taking place around her. "Would it be okay, Mrs. Grossman, if I hooked you up to this monitor to get a better look at your heart?"

"Of course dear." Mrs. Grossman is a little short of breath, but she looks okay. "I bet you played basketball."

"I played Volleyball and Softball, was never very good at Basketball unfortunately." I hook the last of the leads up and turn the LifePak on. I pull the blanket up over her bare legs and waist.

Gotta keep her modest ya know.

Marine Corp Partner and I watch the monitor.

Is that... HOLY Crap... It is....

This is roughly what marches across the display. (Forgot to make a copy of the strip. Instant fail on my part.)

Well Hello there, Mr. SVT. How are you today? I check the leads. No changes. She's taching along at a rate of about 180. I reach for her wrist to check her radial pulse, I just can't believe she doesn't look worse than she does. Her pulse is too fast for me to count.

"Ma'am, I'm going to put you on a little oxygen, would that be okay?" I'm reaching for a NRB in the O2 bag.

"Well, I guess..." Her voice is starting to get shaky. We're making her nervous. I kneel down next to the side of her bed and gently put the NRB on her.

"You just relax and let us take good care of you, okay?" I squeeze her hand again.

Marine Corp Partner steps in, "Well, Mrs. Grossman... Your heart is working overtime, it's close to three times faster than it should be. Now, I can fix this with some medicine. Okay? We'll get you all fixed up and you'll be able to put on that fancy red hat and go dancing before you know it!"

Mrs. Grossman is put at ease by MCP. "Well dear, I don't really dance much anymore. Have you seen some of the men in here?"

MCP laughs out loud. "Well, when this is all over with I'll come dance with you, how would that be?" MCP has a gorgeous smile and dimples deep enough to do shots out of. Mrs. Grossman is a fan.

He plunges the 18 ga. needle in her left AC, she doesn't even wince. She's too busy trying to not look sick. I hand him tape to secure it. He thanks me and asks for the adenosine and a flush. I have it already sitting on my lap.

Score one for me. I'm trying desperately to anticipate what MCP will need. For once I'm prepared.

MCP is studying the monitor one more time. On these emergency runs I've been finding myself so grateful that I've been through Medic school, had I been a brand new Basic I would be terrified.

Oddly (I'm embarrassed to admit this), I'm excited. I want to see this woman's rhythm corrected.

"Ma'am... You're going to feel a little discomfort."

Okay, so MCP isn't lying. She IS going to feel a little discomfort. From what I understand it's like a sledgehammer to the chest. "A little discomfort" is kind of understating it a bit... But I guess telling someone you're aiming to stop and reset their heart is probably a little too much information.

Mrs Grossman nods.

I find myself holding my breath as MCP pushes the first syringe filled with the drug and then rapidly follows with the flush. He elevates the arm. We're both watching the monitor. I'm still holding her hand. Her nails are painted with a pretty pink color.

Mrs. Grossman's HR drops from 182 to asystole.

I get an instant cardiac woody.

"And that, Epi, would be asystole." MCP is smiling again. If I wasn't so intrigued by the whole process, I'm sure I would have fired back with a sarcastic comment.

"How long?" I ask him.

"How long for what?"

"How long until her pulse comes back?" This has all been fun to watch, but watching asystole without doing CPR is kind of unnerving.

"Any second now...."

I was scared, I'll admit it. We took a woman who had a beating heart, who was alive, who was TALKING to me just a minute ago. We gave her a drug, and now her heart is not beating.

Please live... Please live... Please live... I'm praying. I don't pray nearly as much as I should, but I find myself making promises in return for a rhythm. Any rhythm.

Just give us something we can fix... Please...

Nothing. A flat line continues to roll across the display on the LP.

"MCP... How long has it been?"

"Patience, Epi."

"Please.... Please Live."

Now I'm praying outloud. Fantastic.

"Epi...just wait."

It was just like a movie. For once things went as they were supposed to.


I held my breath. Is that a pulse? Seriously?

It was. I could feel her pulse.

I could feel her pulse.


Sometimes they do live.

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