Bridging life….

Oregon EMTIt beaded, coalesced, then gravity took its toll and the sweat slipped from my brow. It swept down through a syrup of time; through time it fell and faded into the distance. It fell to its fate; miles and ages away it splashed on his chest, even as another slipped away to course through that syrupy time and space. Drop following drop, sweat in my eyes, sweat in my mouth, sweat writhing down my arms as I pumped his chest.

That drop never really lands; it is always there; like the blind spot in your eye, if I look “just so,” I can see it, suspended in time. Falling.

He had been clammy and cold when we came in; sweat and the sour sickness of vomit. My gut had clenched, the bile fought back, the scene indelible. Oft we entered such pathos to cries of “oh God,” and God this and God that. Now we entered and heard the franticly muttered prayers to God. Parents hovered over him; somehow I knew they really were Christians, praying not from well-founded fear, but because they believed in Him.

For too many minutes they had pumped and breathed, fought the awful stillness that enfolded their barrel-chested, sick and wasted son. We eased them aside and began our own CPR, more focused and calm and yet terribly aware of the kneeling couple beside us, praying.

Equipment appeared, ALS called, a pediatric code, onto the board and we moved, we became an awkward animal of hands, arms, legs; contriving to carry, compress, ventilate, assess, out the porch and then the silly insanity of the narrow suspension bridge.

Why did they have to build across the creek? Why not a real bridge? How in crap do you wobble across a one-person-wide suspension bridge with a packaged patient in full code? Why….?

Time warped, awash in adrenaline, hope and fear; now our spatial reality was twisted. Accustomed to moving in two dimensions we now confronted a third as the bridge swayed and bounced. We sought to accommodate but the complexity overwhelmed; CPR briefly stopped and the boy swiftly carried across.

Dust, heat, vehicles crowding the cramped turnaround, but the welcome wail of the ambulance returned order to our lives. Backing in, doors open, the briefest report then doors shut and we’re left still living, wrestling through crazy sick euphoria, sudden-chilled from sweat soaked gear, and fighting through our sodden fears back to normalcy….

We tried.

He died.

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