Friday, 29 October 2010

Guns and gumption

From a purely ‘dark comedy’ point of view, there are fewer things funnier than hearing that a member of the public who tried to administer an Epipen to a patient having an allergic reaction stabbed himself with it by mistake, or that a guy who was involved in a road traffic collision and whose ‘brains were out of his head’ was reportedly chatting to his rescuer.

Shootings are popular this week; teenagers are killing each other in the name of gang supremacy, pride and God knows what else. A recent news article cited someone as saying ‘why are these young kids out on the streets that late at night anyway?’ The answer is fairly academic – the parents are fundamentally useless and in all probability there is no father-figure in the house. I base this sweeping generality on gut instinct and the current state of our society… nothing more.

Oh, and perhaps I can qualify it with this: I come from a broken home. I had a violently abusive father. I grew up in one of the toughest places in the UK… but to date, I haven’t shot anyone, stabbed anyone or put anyone in hospital. So, no more excuses about ‘disenfranchised youth’ or disaffected teenagers’ because every generation has them but only some of them – the ones with the wrong genes – go around hacking people to death or shooting them with weapons they can afford, thanks to profitable crime or Government handouts.

The bottom line is that young people are dying at the hands of their equals instead of getting on with life and becoming something worthwhile. For that we are all to blame because we don’t get off our backsides and do something about it. Instead we rely on pretty spineless politicians – people who would never make the statements I have just made here, without worrying that their careers would suffer. What the Hell is wrong with the truth and saying it like it is?

Now, a fascinating and unique piece of filming worth commenting on. The BBC’s Helicopter Heroes featured a section in which one of the HEMS Dispatchers had a heart attack and then went into cardiac arrest – on camera. The film crew kept rolling and captured the resuscitation of the man by two paramedics who were with him. Even as a professional paramedic I found this quite incredible and kind of shocking. I don’t think there has been a full-on, as-it-happens, heart attack to cardiac arrest and then CPR filmed like this before. If there has been, it is extremely rare. The man’s identity was never hidden or masked, like they do with other trauma programmes, so he must have consented to the whole thing being transmitted.

It is an important piece of filming because it shows CPR as it really is; violent and disturbing. The man’s arms are still moving as the paramedic pumps down on his chest. You can see agonal breathing; something a lot of people mistake for life and some medical people get confused about at times.

He survives and that’s thanks to the aggressive and effective CPR that was carried out by his colleagues. He would certainly have died otherwise.

This is a bit of film worth watching. I think it deserves an award because it’s bold and brave – both for the poor guy who nearly bought it and the camera crew who had the nerve to keep on filming. I doubt very much they stopped to ask for permission and I’m glad they didn’t.

If the BEEB gives me permission, I will use it when teaching first aid. It’ll be a lot more effective than those dull, old and badly acted things the big first aid companies churn out.

Be safe.


Jenny said...

I saw that programme & don't think i blinked the whole way through.

Having never seen real CPR, it was not only fascinating but educating. Certainly noticed the differences between it & Acting/TV drama CPR - especially the arms moving like you mentioned.

quite inspirational too to me.

joan said...

Hi xf i watched that episode, i was on edge of seat willing him to come through, i bet the dispatcher it happened to, was quite shocked when he seen the replay! excellent series by the way
hope you all well

Mark W said...

Agreed... it should be standard training... never seen anything so relevant and useful.
I've been trained for 20+ years but only had to deploy those skills in the last couple of years... this would help prepare folks for the reality of the situation.
Please let us know if you contact the Beeb.

Anonymous said...

Chris Solomans the dispatcher did give his consent for the incident to be broadcast. He was also featured in the local media.
It would be invaluable for training purposes - hope you get the go ahead from the Beeb.

merinz said...

I went to the link you gave for the Helicopter Heroes programme but it wont replay for me on our computer - out of our area it says. Could have something to do with being in New Zealand!

Disappointing though, I would have liked to see the clip. I have done many CPR courses, even had to do it in an emergency (the patient didn't make it), and it would be useful to see it done successfully.

Anonymous said...

Bold, brave and very moving!
So glad he survived and it shows that CPR can make a Difference!

Yes, I hope the BBC and the people involved too give consent for it to be used in training. I have been told about the person moving and the agonal breathing but to actually see it is quite unerving.

Epipens - When I teach people such as my colleagues I tell them to hold it in a fist and keep fingers & thumbs well away from either end, just in case!

Kate, Essex

Anonymous said...

Is there a chance for non UK people to see this?


paul said...

the cpr seems a bit quick/shallow, no? i realise we don't see a whole lot of it. in terms of absolute textbook standard for use in training, obviously. you can hardly knock them when they got him back.

Supermouse said...

I saw that episode and was absolutely dumbstruck. I was also, I found, muttering 'Nelly the Elephant packed her trunk...' under my breath.

I wasn't told that arms could move upward - the impression in training is always that the person you're acting upon is going to be utterly quiet and still. And now, if I ever have to do this for real, I'll feel as though I've been through this before, albeit not in an active role.

Peter said...

Truly amazing video

Harry said...

I completely agree, the footage shown on Helicoper Heroes was truely incredible.
Someone was looking down on Chris that day to have the heart attack at work, next to 2 paramedics and all equipment to provide life support and a helicopter to get him there. If this had happened before arriving for work, his chances of suvival would be next to non-existant.
Hats off to the paramedics who acted with such professionalism in such a stressful and emotionally challenging situation with it not only being a colleague, but also being filmed!
At first my initial reaction was, 'oh my word, how is the camera man still filming?' but I'm quite glad they did. It shows the rawness and roughness of the agressive intervention for cardiac arrest, and I think its truely invaluable for education.
Although it may be probably quite distressing for Chris' family to see that, the knowlege gained from that footage for viewers will be of great importance. I'm trained in vital life support and defib and I learnt so much from it, which you simply cant get from a dummy, such as the agonal breathing and him bringing his arms up.
Also many thanks to the Dispatcher, who allowed such a rare capture of resusitation to be broadcast and I wish him the best recovery.

Paul - as easy as it may be to critisise technique, its just not fair. It seemed to take them completely by suprise, it was a friend of theirs, and they were being filmed. The situation was not exactly ideal! Its very easy to sit on a high horse from our sofas as we watch it, completely emotionally detached from the situation, but we were not there and thus cant judge.
That poor paramedic had to bag the patient and do CPR all himself while the onther one set up the defib, so the CPR is hardly going to be of maximum effectiveness with only one person. I recall one moment when he is infact doing a chin lift head tilt and holding the mask one with one hand and compressions with the other hand. The key to his suvival was his next to immediate defibrillation anyway.

Anonymous said...

I watched this clip in in tears, having seen paramedics working on my mum in the same way a few months ago. Unfortunately it wasn't successful in her case, but it was good to see it works out for some people.

Tom said...

Like you, having come from a (comfortable in my case) broken home, my brothers and I have failed to execute people with a firearm.

Still, we have tried where possible to do the right thing and after service in the forces we have served with the ambulance, police and prison service. MAKE NO EXCUSES FOR US.

However there is one thing, given our mutual upbringing we can all agree on. The preservation of a persons dignity, which I thought absent to some degree from the segment mentioned is paramount.

Xf said...


Do you mean the resus segment? If so, I'm sure the gentleman was asked if it was okay to air it and he agreed, obviously.