First Aid - did I do the right thing?
How would you act if this happened to YOU?
I was driving down the road the other day and a woman, obviously in distress, flagged me down. I slowed down and saw her waving an asthma puffer in the air. I realized she was having trouble breathing so stopped and wound down my window. She nodded as I asked "You need to go to hospital, right?"
As it happened, I was only minutes away from the local emergency ward so, in obviously a great deal of pain, she got in to my car and I raced down the road with hazard lights on.
I had one set of lights to get through before the hospital and luck was on our side because as I approached it, the light turned green.
She was in extreme distress, her body contorted and she was leaning over to the open window attempting to get air into her lungs. She was going, I could see she was going.
I kept talking to her, telling her it's OK, we're nearly there as if it could keep her from going under and finally I was driving into the ramp that leads to the double doors of the emergency ward.
But she had passed out. I drove down on the brakes, jumped out and was calling out to the hospital staff but it seemed everyone else was in another world; a world with different, slower tempo.
Not again, I thought.
No-one seemed to take me seriously. No-one seemed to jump out to help. No-one was rushing to her aid or at least it seemed no-one saw this as an emergency.
Were they all confused? I was wondering what the hell did it look like from their point of view.
I was wondering why all the apathy around me, do I look like I'm going for a Sunday picnic?
I had just arrived and in my head voices were screaming to save this woman who I knew was a mother, I just knew, I don't know what told me but I knew.
Her hands had turned blue and I was feeling for a pulse, and I was thinking, for God's sake, I'm right at the front entrance of an emergency ward, I'm trying to get people's attention and I'm doing what medical staffers, not me, are trained for so why isn't anyone here doing very much?
I kept thinking why the f...ing apathy.
Eventually, some serious faced, grey-haired guy wearing a white shirt and black trousers came out with a wheelchair.
Who is this I thought, he doesn't look like a doctor or nurse but he must be in the know because he's got a wheelchair.
Another guy, who I later learned was also just off the street and who had brought in a kid who'd shot himself with a nail gun, came over and helped me lift this unconscious and heavy woman into the wheelchair.
The older man struggled to hold the chair as we both struggled to lift her in.
She had totally passed out and it was awkward.
Then it was like a switch had been turned on and things began to move.
She was wheeled into the emergency department and I heard a call for resusitation over the loudspeakers.
Finally, she was getting the attention she needed.
I gave the nurse on duty her handbag and left my name and phone number.
After the commotion had died down and I had left the hospital I kept wondering if this woman would survive and if she didn't, I kept going through the drama in my head and asking myself if I could have done things better.
I thought I should have called the emergency number ahead of arriving or should I have because I was driving?
Perhaps, it would have been best to call an ambulance rather than rush her to hospital myself?
But that would have meant denying her the lift she so desperately demanded off ME!
I was literally minutes away from the hospital, anyway, and an ambulance would have taken longer to respond and get there than the time it took to drive to the emergency ward.
But still, what if I had had an accident on the way?
What would have happened then?
I didn't want to think of that, I am a safe driver and I had driven with my hazard lights on so other cars knew what was going on.
But what if she didn't make it?
Time ticked by and eventually I drove myself back to the hospital to face the outcome.
It was an hour or so later and I explained to the nurse on duty who I was and why I had come back.
Was she alright?
The nurse was positive. I was relieved. He said to me "Good on you, you did a great job. She is still in intensive care but no longer critical."
Her condition had stabilized. I was moderately relieved but I was still thinking, if she is in intensive care, there was still a chance she would not make it.
Then her son arrived and explained his mother was an asthmatic. He also thanked me.
Later that day, I got a call from her husband. He also thanked me.
Everything returned to a kind of serenity - like shoreline after a storm. Waves of calmness were now just lapping the sand.
Her family had thanked me so I felt relief.
But a few days later, I related this to a person at work. Her response was - you could have been sued by her family if she had died.
It got me wondering, my intention to help someone, ending in a court case. What a thought, but could this really have been an outcome and how would I act next time? What kind of world should I assume?
One in which actions are seen for their intentions or, if the outcome had been different, kind actions interpreted as negligent and a person who in error thinks they have acted competently?
Does the fact, the woman initiated my repsonse make it OK that I did what I did because I was acting on her request or should I have said I'll call an ambulance and just stayed with her?
What do my fellow hubbers think?
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