Easter is a family time in the Kaiser household. Everybody gathers together, does the church thing, and as is the tradition here in the Midwest, we eat a lot as well. This Easter was no different. My wife Gina’s mother was there, my parents were in town, and a lot of other miscellaneous relatives came over to the LUTL compound for family time. The weather was beautiful and the coffee was hot.
In the morning, even though I had my own stuff to cook, I became the go-fer for my wife and her mother for groceries. They gave me their list and sent me off to the store for their last minute sundry items. The traffic was light but the after-church crowds were starting to clog the roadways on their way to wherever they were going for their own Easter family time. I was happy to be out though. It simply was a beautiful Spring day in the Midwest. The Sun was shining, the breeze was warm, and it was one of the first days nice enough so that I could finally open up the windows and let the fresh breeze sweep out the air in the car a bit. It was idyllic… all until I saw this:
A grieving family had placed that beautiful memorial in the very corner where a year or so ago I had responded to and worked one of the worst motor vehicle accidents of my career. A car, driven by an elderly couple had pulled out in front of a van, which T-boned them into the spot where the memorial now stands. It ended up killing both of the elderly occupants, the Husband on scene and the wife a few days later at the trauma center. I worked the husband… and I mean I really worked him hard. Altogether, we had two ambulances and two helicopters on scene. Even though I arrived on the Engine Company, I took charge of the Husband, performed an emergency extrication, and worked him as a trauma code. An EMT-Basic who I trust very much was first on scene and stated that the patient was responsive just after the incident. He told me that the patient began breathing after the EMT repositioned his airway. I worked him in the second ambulance to arrive on scene. We had the helicopter on the ground and the flight crew ready to take him when we decided to cease our efforts. Intubation, bilateral IVs, and all of our tricks couldn’t reverse the massive thoracic and anterior neck trauma this poor guy had received. We decided it was futile and called it.
I’m inside the ambulance in the foreground. I’m working hard in there.
So today, on this beautiful Easter morning, I’m reminded of that dark day from which I really wonder if there was something that I could have done differently to change the outcome. Yes, I know that there were three other paramedics there with good experience. Yes, I know that we all did our best and no, we didn’t make any mistakes. I am sure, in all rationality, that there was nothing I could have done differently that would have made any difference in the patient’s outcome… but that’s what I thought when I saw the family’s new memorial.
And it’s a beautiful memorial, really.
It’s times like these when I reflect on the gifts and the burdens that all EMS people receive in their jobs that they carry on to their daily lives. I have always said that I can give nothing back to EMS that would ever compare to what it has given me. I cherish the successes and know that the failures make me stronger. It’s made me the person that I am today and I thought that I’d share some of that with you on this Easter. I’m sure you have your own stories and I would love to have you share them as well.
Happy Easter, y’all.