I started to write this narrative some time ago but never finished it. This is from a call that happened in early December.

Around 10:30, Mrs. Turquoise and I got toned out. The call was for an elderly male down in the shower, unknown breathing, unknown responsiveness. From the lack of detail, I got the impression that this might be a simple trauma. Still, it was ambiguous, so we wasted no time getting in the rig and headed down the street. Two less experienced firefighters were going to follow us in the forestry truck, a large pickup used for utility duties in addition to brush firefighting, in case the call turned out to be serious and we needed help.

We pulled up in front of the house and quickly found the entrance with the help of a bystander. As we wheeled the cot up the sidewalk, Greenie was hopping out of his car at the curb.

Greenie is the department grizzled old-timer. He’s sly as a fox and is a wealth of experience and information. He also has a sixth sense about calls. He had the day off but heard the tone on his pager.

As we came up the steps with a bag and stretcher, the apartment door opened. A man stepped out.

“I think he’s dead.”

We picked up the pace. Entering the living room to the apartment, I could see the opened door to the bathroom. A unmoving naked form lay facing away on the linoleum. Several people were standing in the living room in various forms of freaking out.

I went over to the bathroom. Lying on the floor was an elderly man. He was lying on his side on the floor. There was a puddle of a little blood and a lot of clear fluid. The fluid was yellowish and looked viscous.

I stepped into the bathroom, over the puddle. The man’s eyes were open. His face and hands were livid. He looked dead.

Mrs. Turquoise was getting some history from the family. He had gone to take a shower. That was an hour ago. After hearing no noise for some time, they had finally opened the door to reveal the present tableau.

There was a home oxygen setup in the bathroom. The nasal cannula and tubing were on the floor, though not attached to the man.

I yelled at the man.

“Sir? Can you hear me? Sir?”

He didn’t move. His eyes were fixed.

I squatted next to the patient. I felt his neck for a carotid pulse. I couldn’t feel one. I tried several times.

“No pulse!” I yelled.

“No pulse!” Mrs. Turquoise and Greenie yelled together.

Mrs. Turquoise started handing me ECG leads, the wire electrodes that go to the heart monitor. I placed them on his chest, not disturbing his position. Once they were in place, I switched on the monitor. It showed a flat line.

“Asystole!”

“Asystole!”

It was sort of unclear if this would be treated as an untimely death or as an unwitnessed collapse. Greenie was already on the phone with the local hospital. They said to work him.

Greenie went to the first-in bag for a bag-valve mask and oxygen. Mrs. Turquoise pulled out the AED pads for the monitor and attached them. I started CPR.

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