Wednesday, July 23, 2008

As Seen On TV

Sometimes I'm amazed how working in the ER can still feel like an episode from a TV show.  I've been an ER tech in an urban Level I trauma center on the East Coast for almost a year and a half now.  I work evenings (4pm to midnight or 4am) roughly 20 hours a week during the school year and full time during the summers.  Seventeen months by no means makes me an expert, but it is long enough to realize that medical dramas somehow seem to skip over the constipated old ladies and sobbing psych patients.  At the same time, it's short enough for me to still get excited when things get interesting.

Last night was decently busy for a Tuesday, but we were pretty well cleared out by 1am.  With only 3 drunks sleeping in wheelchairs in the waiting room, the chairs were cleared out and the floors were getting waxed.  Our ED is split into two halves; the side I was working closes down to all but minor cases after midnight and we had three patients on the board.  With the other side pretty quiet as well, I started restocking supplies when a patch came in for a two person rollover MVC.  The trauma room, which had been empty, suddenly became packed as we prepared for two critical patients.  The first to arrive was the passenger, who had been found twisted in an overturned vehicle and was in cardiac arrest.  The driver, her boyfriend, arrived a few minutes later.  He seemed to be in good shape, but went straight from CT to the OR.  She regained a pulse with after a few minutes of CPR, and after two chest tubes, a central line, and three units of blood, was stable enough to be moved upstairs as well.  Within 30 minutes we'd gone from snacking and surfing the internet, to trying to save two teenagers' lives, and back to counting the minutes until 4am.

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