01 October 2010

Friday Flashback - Obliviousness

Not long ago I was working out at the local gym. Nothing too intense -- half an hour on the elliptical trainer and some weight-lifting. I sat down at the chest press machine and settled in, when a friend of mine, Ron, who happens to be an critical care doctor walked past and sat down next to me at the military press machine. We each took the iPod earbuds out of our ears and chatted a bit, since it had been a few weeks since we had seen each other. After exhausting all the casual avenues of conversation, we donned our iPods once more and went to work.

The two of us spent a while there, doing several sets each. The weight equipment was located in the center of the room, facing the entryway, with the aerobic equipment -- treadmills, cycles, etc -- behind us. I tend to get a bit of tunnel vision when I am working out pretty hard, and it was only in my peripheral vision that I noticed a couple of familiar-looking guys hurry past me. In my semi-hypoxic state I wondered how I knew them.

Oh, that's Bill, from Medic 16, I suddenly recalled. Satisfied at having figured out that mystery, I went back to work. I didn't know he was a member here. But there was still something that didn't quite fit. Why was he wearing his work clothes?

And, I suddenly realized, the other guy I had noticed was his partner. And he had been carrying a tackle box. What the hell are they doing here?

I put down the weights and turned around. Behind us, at the foot of a treadmill, there was an old man on the floor and the paramedics appeared to be intubating him, as best I could see through the small knot of people clustered around them. I tugged at the sleeve of the ICU doc who was still doing his set, "Hey Ron, check this out..."

The two of us stood there with the rest of the slack-jawed gawkers and watched the medics finish their resuscitation and load the fellow on the gurney. They were quick and efficient and were out of there in less than five minutes. We pulled the iPods out of our ears once more.

"We probably should have helped out," he offered sheepishly.
"I never heard anything. Did you?"
"Not a thing."
"Well, we couldn't have done too much anyways, right? No airway equipment, no defibrillator..."
"At least our CPR is better than average."
"Don't give me that. I've seen you do CPR."
"Okay, okay."

We went back to our workouts and finished in silence.

Originally posted 22 October 2007


  1. I'm really surprised at this but even more surprised that you'd admit to it, twice! I think a psychologist would have a field day with this story.

  2. Archibald Ormsby-Gore10/02/2010 4:13 PM

    A perfectly reasonable (non) response to the incident. Seems the old fellow needed to be intubated & transported to an ICU. The paramedics were evidently doing just that, and efficiently too.

    No need to stick your nose into it, as there's nothing to add.

  3. Ya, I thank the CPR gods daily for "compression only." Years ago in a gym had to do CPR on a man who I noticed agonal breathing on the stairmaster, right before he fell off backward...lots of vomit, no defibrillator=poor outcome.

  4. Jeannine, the medics are much more proficient at this part of the game and actually do not want/need Shadow. Shadow is best at the next step in the game, the ER.

  5. People assume docs are always best 'on the scene'. I think you and your buddy did the right thing. The paramedics would have likely been slightly distracted having y'all show up.

    You got your workout. They got their patient transported. Best way to play it.


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