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TRIBEWORK is about consuming the process of life, the journey, together.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Life’s Last Day

YESTERDAY A SPECIAL WOMAN NAMED “SUE” DIED. It happened in a university courtyard and we all tried our best.

How symbolic that on the way to have coffee with a work colleague we were to stumble across a dead pigeon—later returning to see crows pecking at its lifeless body. It was perhaps prophetic for what was about to, in the next few minutes, take place.

I dialled “000” at 10:07 AM and spent the next few minutes guiding the operator to our precise location, ambulance en route. The woman, Sue, lay their motionless barely breathing and then she stopped completely. A policeman had just arrived. He did chest compressions and I did expired air resuscitation. We did this until we were relieved by two doctors—university faculty—one a professor at the School for Medicine. Then a medical student arrived—a critical care nurse of eight years. Sue was in the best of hands. Yet, still no ambulance.

We desperately needed a defibrillator machine so I dashed back to my workplace to grab ours and then returned in minutes—a shock was delivered but it didn’t revive her. The ambulance arrived. A saline drip was fitted, her throat was cannulised and cleared and CPR continued throughout. It was a real team effort and Sue was blessed with much qualified assistance.

Co-workers of Sue’s—two of which did their best—stood by traumatised.

We saw the ambulance off and went for our planned coffee; a little amazed at what had just taken place, indeed, bewildered actually. Now, twenty hours or so on, there have been many thoughts of how we might have done better. Yet, our intent was precise. We wanted her back.

Sue remained alive for four or five more hours at hospital and then slipped away—there are no other details. And the details are not important. I wondered if she was saved. I wondered where she was; what eternal destination she’d selected for herself.

One very important learning: as a person lays on the ground motionless and defenceless, lack of first aid knowledge and skill is as good as being in deep ocean and not being able to tread water.

Learn first aid. It could be a family member you end up saving, not least another member of the human race.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

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