My partner received a call of a man not breathing at 1:30 A.M. These types of calls are often received and turn out to be someone having a hard time breathing. As he began responding, dispatch gave an update that CPR was now being given to the man by his wife and teenage daughter. With the stakes significantly raised I punched the gas pedal and began responding to assist.
Performing CPR can involve up to 6 people, and it is a near necessity to be able to rotate people through that are doing chest compressions. It is a physically demanding task that can wear a person down quickly. I arrived just in front of the ambulance, while my partner and some firefighters were already inside.
Within 30 minutes a wife had lost her husband and two children had lost their father. It was entirely unexpected since he was a middle-aged man who was not overweight or complicated with many health concerns. I watched as the mother woke up her young son, who had been sleeping through the entire ordeal, to tell him his father had just died. It was a dreadful thing to witness.
I called one of our chaplains who I know quite well and asked him to come out to where we were at the request of the wife. Our department has an excellent chaplain program and they have brought comfort to many people in the midst of very painful situations.
My partner remained there while I had to go to the next call. As I backed out of the driveway I saw the fatherless boy randomly tapping on the front window, face flushed with tears. There are a handful of images that stick in my memory and remain as fresh as the moment I saw them. That one lodged in the memory bank as well.