Recently I was sitting outside a café with some other people. We noticed a bit of a commotion across the other side of the road. Some large seagulls were attacking a young pigeon, quite savagely.
I stood up and walked over to the scene scaring the seagulls away but, as soon as I turned away they were back. The pigeon was in a bad way but alive so I picked it up and walked back towards the café.
As I walked past the café and the others joined me, the pigeon passed away in my hands.
The people in that café must have thought I was a bit nuts, maybe I was, but I wasn’t going to do nothing. It may have been “nature in action” but my instinct was to try.
It reminded me why I joined the ambulance service in the first place – because I’m a rubbish onlooker and I wanted to help. It also reminded me of the many jobs we did that didn’t have the outcome we wanted. Even when we knew the situation was hopeless, we still tried.
Early in my career an older paramedic told me: “If it’s someone’s time to go, there’s nothing and no-one can change that, but we don’t make that decision!”. At that time the figures showed CPR jobs were around 5-8% successful, but everyone we were called to was in the 92-95% group until we had done our job.
Sometimes that was difficult, especially when you knew the relatives were watching. It would have been so easy to do nothing and tell the family it was over, rather than letting them hold onto some hope as we worked, but there was hope in us too, hope that this patient was one of the 5-8%, and we would never give up until
protocols said we had to.
We never beat nature, the lost ones were always lost but, to shake the hand of the survivor, the one who would not be there if we’d lost our faith – there are no words.