Anytime a crashing patient is depicted in the movies there is a flurry of chaos between the doctors and nurses in an attempt to resuscitate them. People are running all over the place, syringes are being handed out left and right, and everyone is yelling out directions. Though I have never seen a human patient code, I have witnessed my fair share of arresting animal patients this past week during my ICU rotation.
Whenever an emergency occurred the veterinarians, technicians, and ACA’s moved together seamlessly to attend to the patient. Calmly and methodically, a catheter was placed, airway secured, ECG leads attached, and CPR initiated. The ACA held a clipboard with the CPR algorithm and instructed the technicians when it was time to switch when doing compressions or when to administer more medication. Most of the time I simply stood back and watched, in awe of their organization and composure.
Well, I watched from afar until finally, on my last day, it was my turn to step up to the plate. I watched the technicians and veterinarians tire so I felt it was only appropriate to offer help. I had never performed CPR on a live patient, but what better time than now? So I got on my stool and went to town. One hundred compressions a minute was all I could think of. I sang “Staying Alive” in my head as I went and kept up a good rhythm. Surprisingly, you get tired pretty darn fast. I was more than ready to switch out by the time two minutes rolled around, but my dedication to getting the patient back was what kept me going. Unfortunately, in this case, the patient did not recover, though it was no fault of our own. Our attempt to resuscitate the patient did not work but the fact that I had performed CPR correctly and maintained my composure was a small victory for me. Though urgent, performing CPR doesn’t have to be chaotic. Now that I have witnessed the pros at work and was able to participate, I think I will fare much better in future emergency situations.