As paramedics, we chose this field as a career for many reasons. Some do it to deliver babies, some want to “fix” trauma. Others want to help those near death avert that with the treatments we were taught in school. Most of us just want to help people.
As we get into this career, we quickly learn there are those people, no matter how hard we try, that we just can’t save. We don’t really prepare emotionally for those moments and when you can’t save them — it’s really difficult not to take it to heart. Recently, my partner Neia Hoffman and I were invited to meet with a mother of a baby we performed CPR on. She wanted to thank us for doing everything we could to save her child.
On the day of the call back in 2014, we arrived at a local daycare where we found a four-month-old female in cardiac arrest. We went right into action and began to do everything we could to save her. We were successful about 40 minutes into the call as we were able to regain pulses and transport her to the emergency room. Just like we all do, we cleaned up, took about two hours to get ourselves ready and went back in service.
We later found out the baby, Maci LeeAnn Casias, passed away the next day. When we saw the obituary online, our hearts sank. We’ve all have been there. Those kinds of calls are forgotten, not lost but stored away where we keep those calls out of our “emotional range.” You then have those feelings of being a failure, not doing your job good enough, just flat out not being successful in the training we were taught as young paramedics. There’s always that thought of, “Could I have done something more?
Michelle Miller, the 26-year-old mother, called Ed Tydings, now a division commander within my department, and asked if we would be willing to meet her at Dell Children’s Medical Center (Austin, TX). We found out she donates blankets on the anniversary of her daughter’s death every year. As we sat with her, we learned that we did do our job and we were successful. We gave her and the baby’s father the opportunity to hold her one last time. She said we gave her a chance to say goodbye to her daughter.
This is part of the job we forget about and it gets lost. These moments are the worse day of our patient’s families lives and we just forget about it, forget about them. She wanted to thank us, cry with us, and tell us she is so grateful that we gave her 36 hours with her daughter that she cherishes more than any words could express.
I just wanted to remind all of us that we do more than just save lives. We also do things out there that help in the healing process; not only for the families, but for ourselves too. We need that just as much. We do a lot more than just saving lives. We are making a difference, no matter how big or small, we still leave a footprint wherever we go.