“Roger that,” the engine operator said as he slipped the gear into drive.
The large fire-rescue truck moved forward, slowly building up speed. I reached over and flipped on the lights and sounded the siren.
I then pulled out the map book and started thumbing through the index for the street name.
“You don’t have to bother with that,” said the operator, “I know where were going, I drink there all the time.”
We entered onto the highway then exited at the next off ramp. The fire-rescue truck made a left hand turn and proceeded straight.
I sounded the siren again as the operator slowed for the upcoming intersection as light was red.
Leaning forwarded in the cab and looking to the left I could not see any vehicles approaching. The lane was clear.
I looked to my right and saw that there were no cars or trucks coming from that direction either and said, “Clear left, clear right, clear left.”
The engine operator stepped down on the gas pedal and the truck picked up speed again. We completed this ritual three more times before we made a right hand turn.
“Quarter of a mile — on the left,” the operator stated.
There was a sheriff’s vehicle already in the parking lot.
“He must have called it in,” I thought.
The dispatcher said it was a possible heart attack and that CPR was already in progress. Then a second rig pulled up right behind us.
I opened the cab of the truck, climbed down, put on my white helmet and walked towards the lounge, pausing to look around to take note of how many crew people he had on hand.
A third crew truck pulled into the gravel driveway and parked. All total there were firefighters and other emergency personnel, so I stepped inside.
The scene appeared surrealistic. The jukebox was playing an upbeat county-western song while two patrons sat at the bar drinking as two sheriff’s deputies did CPR on a man lying at the foot of the bar.
Two firefighters were right behind me.
“You two take over for the deputies,” I directed.
A third firefighter came in carrying oxygen and a defibrillator.
I looked at the firefighter with the equipment and said, “Set up the bag valve mask at 15 liters.” The firefighter did as instructed.
Once relieved from doing CPR the two deputies walked over to me.
“How’s it going?” one of them asked.
I smiled, “Great. How long were you at it?”
“About five minutes,” the bigger of the two answered.
“How long was he down before you got here?” I continued.
They looked at each other, then back at me and the bigger one answered again, “A couple of minute’s maybe. We were across the street at the diner.”
“Thanks guys, good job,” I told them, “One last thing, can you clear out the two lumps sitting at the end of the bar?”
Both deputies nodded and said, “Yeah.”
They immediately walked to the end of the bar and asked the two drinkers to leave. Both of them started to put up an argument, but then thought better of it.
Walking over, I unplugged the jukebox as it started into its second song. By this time the defibrillator was set up and ready to go.
With the ambulance still 5 minutes away this was the victim’s only chance, so I nodded a go-ahead to the rescuers as they prepared to deliver the first shock. The man jerked slightly as the energy coursed through him.
The firefighters went back to doing CPR. They did this three more times and each time they had the same end result.
The man’s heart beat did not return. Yet the rescuers continued.
Seeing an opportunity for an on the job lesson, I looked around the room and pointed to the two newest members of the volunteer fire company.
“Come here, you two need to take over for these two,” I directed.
One of the firefighter’s said, “But I can’t remember how…”
I cut him off mid-sentence, “I know, but I’ll talk you through it.”
They both moved in and took over the breaths and chest compressions. I continued to direct of them.
The radio crackled and the dispatcher said, “Your ambulance is less than two minute away.”
“Ten-four,” I answered.
Then I returned his attention to the new firefighters doing CPR, “I want you to stay right where you are, but switch roles.”
They did as they were instructed.
Upon the third compression something popped loudly. I was standing next to the bar at the victims head when it happened.
The two rookies jumped up and away from the body, as did the others in the room. I hopped up on the bar and looked down, trying to figure out what had jus’ sprang out of the victims face.
The room was silent, except for what sounded like a marble rolling across a linoleum tiled floor. Then I noticed the man’s face; his left eye socket was slightly sunken.
The chest compressions were jus’ hard enough to cause a man’s glass eye to pop out.
“Get that eye over there,” I directed one of the firefighters.
“Not me! I ain’t touching that thing!” he exclaimed as he quickly exited the barroom.
His hand was covering his mouth as he pushed his way passed other crewmembers, who stood transfixed on the little white object with the light blue dot. The two rookies moved back to their positions and continued CPR as I hopped down from the bar top.
I walked over and picked up the glass eye jus’ as the ambulance crew came in the front door.