Too Much

A call of a woman in distress.  Asking for help. Very faint.  I am in the block.

A concerned neighbour points out the window.  A history of health problems, he says, the ambulance is there on a regular basis.   He lets me cut through his suite, shows me her door.  It is unlocked.

A small apartment at a home for war vets.  Dialysis machine on my right, an empty wheelchair on my left. 

Her body is on the floor, crumpled by the phone, her legs pinned under the chair.  I pull it out of the way to get at her. 

I start – she is not pinned.  Her legs are gone.  From some long passed war.

Lips tinged blue, slack face.  Her chest is still. No radial pulse.

The spot on her neck up under her jaw is warm to the touch.  Silence under my fingertips. 

Roll the ambulance Code Three, then roll her on her back. Take a second to close her robe, give her some dignity.

A two finger count up her sternum, lace my hands together on her chest, lean into it and pump her heart into action.  Her body is warm, much different than doing this to a blue plastic training torso.

Radio calls for an update.  I keep pumping, blow my hair out of my face.  I talk to her, call her sweetheart, tell her to hang on.

Heavy footfalls in the hallway and then in the room.  Yellow fire boots at my side. 


Standing, I move out of the way.  Let them take over.  Machines are hooked up, the room fills with medical personel.

Another police unit arrives.  I slip away, not wanting to be there as she passes on.



Hours later, an officer gets a hold me.  The woman has pulled through.  Critical condition in hospital, but alive.

A weight from my shoulders, a new found respect for those whose job it is to do this everyday.  To try and literally save lives with medical intervention.

I could not do it.  It would be too much.

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