Don’t delay calling 911 for a suspected cardiac arrest

Our second winning entry is a story from a paramedic:

A late-fifties male gets up in the morning [wife’s still sleeping] to go to the bathroom. He’s overweight, smokes like a chimney, and is now grunting away – trying to push out the pound of steak he ate for dinner last night. While he’s doing that, the pressure he places on his bowels produces a sudden drop in his heart rate, with a corresponding drop in blood pressure. This is known as’vagal-ing out’ – as the vagus nerve responds to such stimulus by dropping the heart rate. The man gets dizzy, and falls off the can in mid-shit. This is what I call the classic’Elvis’ presentation: man on bathroom floor, boxer-shorts down to his ankles, flopping around and leaving skid marks on the floor so wide you’d have thought a 747 landed nearby.

Now his heart *could* at any moment increase its rate – but since his heart is soooo tired after all those years, it decides to pump at this rate for a while -‘catch a breather’ so to speak. Ironically, since the heart isn’t pumping enough to circulate blood and oxygen efficiently, the heart itself does not receive enough blood and oxygen to continue beating – so it quits altogether.

Anywhere from several minutes to several hours later, this man’s wife wakes up – and follows the’I had steak for dinner last night’ smell to the bathroom, where she finds hubby. Naturally, you’d think her first reaction is to dial 911, to get some help for him. Noooo, wrongo. You may pick from the following options:

1) She yells “Ralph – wake up.”

2) She notices his boxers down to his ankles, and pulls them up.

3) She splashes cold water on his face.

4) She yells “Ralph – wake up” again, just in case he didn’t hear her the first time.

5) She genuflects, makes the sign of the cross, and throws in an’Our Father’ for good measure.

6) She calls the family doctor – to ask what to do.

7) She calls the family priest – to ask what to do.

8) She calls another family member – to ask what to do.

9) She does all of the above – then dials 911.

10) Any combination from above.

By the time an ambulance gets dispatched to a cardiac arrest, things look pretty dim.

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