“18 year old VSA en route, pedestrian hit by car”.
The paramedics are coming with a young patient, no vital signs, who had been struck by a car.
The double doors swing open, a paramedic on top of the patient–doing CPR.
We scramble to help. Within seconds of her arrival, I know she isn’t going to make it.
“She was out with her friends and they crossed in the middle of a busy street. Her friends all made it to the other side. She didn’t. She was thrown 30 feet down the street.”
But we try.
We try to restart her heart with medications and compressions.
But the gaping head wound from her skull fracture makes it unlikely she will recover to a meaningful life.
“Has anyone reached her parents?” I ask.
“The police are on their way to her home,” a nurse reports.
We continue the resuscitation.
At least we will give her parents a chance to say goodbye.
The sadness is immense. This could be anyone’s daughter, any of our daughters.
Her parents arrive.
They enter the resuscitation room which is strewn with bloody gloves, monitors alarming, while the team does compressions and artificially breathes for their daughter.
Mom crumples to the ground sobbing.
Dad screams in anger “Why? Why?”
We have no answers, silent tears falling as the adrenaline of the resuscitation gives way to sorrow at the young life taken too soon.
“Time of death: 7:02pm” I say.
The parents sit in shock.
I fill out paperwork and speak to the coroner.
I still have hours to go in my shift but I am numb.
To get my mind off the tragedy, I go to the discharge waiting room to write a prescription for a patient waiting to go home.
On the TV in the lounge, the news channel pronounces that the body of a mother, a family physician, had been found murdered.
I stare in shock. I nearly crumble. Her name familiar to me. I’ve spoken to her.
How could this be–two young lives gone in one night?
Somehow I get through the rest of the shift.
But as I turn the ignition in my car, I stop and I weep.
It is well after 2am. I go home and return the next day.
I am an emergency physician and I deal with life and death every day.
My patients lives write their stories on my soul.