As I have written yesterday, I did a 24-hour paramedic shift, as you might have guessed already, I came home with new stories to tell. :)
I going to start with the emergency notification we got:
"Female 18, severe shortness of breath, maybe hyperventilating???"
Not much information. We could be confronted with a girl just right at the edge of death or already in CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) by family members. We didn't know and with such an "open" notification, I can be pretty much everything.
As the girl's brother led us to their flat, I already heard her. Loud, heavy and very fast breathing.
We entered the room, another brother was sitting with her on the floor. She was laying with feet up high. A bad thing when you don't get enough oxygen.
Sidenote: If you find someone that can barely breathe, knee behind them on the floor and let them lean on you, so they sit straight, tell them to get their hands on the floor beneath your knees to support the position. I promise you, they will immediately feel better and can breathe easier because they are using now their back muscles which support the lung.
I said to my colleague that he should do the same as I've just written in the Sidenote. Meanwhile, I took our pulse oximeter and put it on one of her fingers.
I wasn't surprised that the device showed 100% oxygen in her blood. She was hyperventilating.
What does hyperventilating mean? You're breathing to fast and get more carbon dioxide out of the body then that is good for you. As far as I remember the body needs some carbon dioxide in it to function correctly.
Because of the fast breathing, you feel like you get too little oxygen, which is false. You have more than enough oxygen, but I've heard it feels like you're choking.
Our doctrine here in Austria says we should try to tell her that she needs to calm down and breath slowly. My colleague and I tried and tried. We've also put an oxygen mask over her face (you could also use a bag where she could breathe in and out from), so she thought she will retrieve oxygen, while we didn't turn up the oxygen bottle. Normally, that works as expected.
Well, I don't think I have to say that it didn't. I called for an emergency doctor. Obviously, no doctor was available as all were on the road and working on other emergencies.
Since we were only about three minutes away from the hospital, we continued our typical load and go, when we can't do more at the side.
At the hospital, we were told by the nurse that the girl is already known for her panic attacks. After inhaling a sedative she quickly calmed down. I don't think she stayed overnight at the hospital.
Her brother told me she had those attacks from time to time but never this heavy. A simple neighbourhood dispute led to this one.
Sometimes it is hard to see people suffer like because we just can't do anything. And in her case, it must have been pretty bad. In between the fast breathing, she simply stopped breathing until she almost lost consciousness.
I know I shouldn't write something, but I think if she had lost consciousness just for a few seconds, the attack would have been over because her body would start to breath normal again because her hyperventilation was caused psychic.