Walked into work the other night, and as I was waiting to punch in I helped transfer a patient onto a stretcher as she made her way back from the waiting room. A few minutes later, I was stocking supplies at the beginning of my shift when someone grabbed me and said they needed an extra set of hands for a code. I ran over and joined 15 people crowded around the woman I had just brought in: middle-aged female who came in complaining of shortness of breath. She had been anxious and yelling only a few minutes ago, but now was unable to maintain a pulse without compressions. Fluid bags were squeezed in, a central line started, transcutaeous pacing and an A-line attempted. Cycling through rounds of compressions with a few other techs, I had sweat running down my forehead and my arms were exhausted. We were at it for over an hour.
Most times a code comes in arresting after a major trauma, or is sick and elderly, or has already been down for an extended period of time. Most times I don't get to see the person walk in, help them on a stretcher or listen to them talk before I'm pounding on their chest with their lifeless eyes staring back up at me. This was the first time I had someone walk in, code, and die in front of me. As I stuck around afterwards to help clean up the body, I overheard that she had a history of cardiac problems, but had stopped taking certain meds while trying to get pregnant, and that's when it hit me. I had tried to remain detached, but by that point it really hit me.
After taking a few minutes to decompress, I got back to work. Thankfully, there were very few patients for the rest of the night, and everything remained quiet.