Sunday, September 5, 2010

Life is fragile

Yesterday was my first shift, it was an orientation shift with another U.S. Paramedic. Our first call was for some one who "fainted." We jumped in the fly car(which is a souped up Toyota Camry modified like a police car) and sped towards our destination. A BLS ambulance was behind us when we left the station but it wasn't long before it was unable to keep up with our fly car and I soon lost sight of it. Our EMT-B driver was one of the more "experienced" ones and I still almost craped my pants as we reached speeds of 118MPH. I looked out the window and everyday objects where just a blur at these speeds. Cars did not pull over for us and sometimes it felt as if we where traveling faster than the sound of our siren before it could warn drivers ahead of us. If it is possible to travel forward in time or through a wormhole I might discover it soon. 
 A lot raced through my mind on the way to the call, and it wasn't so much about the patient. I was a little scared for my own safety. I knew if a car pulled out in front of us, opened a door, changed lanes, or anything happened in our path we where screwed. I thought about statistics, statistics like how Saudi Arabia is #1 in the world for motor vehicle accidents. I thought about how 16 people die everyday in the very city we are now driving 118 MPH hour in. I thought about how ironic it would be if the people sent to save the those people could just as easily become part of the daily statistic here and it wouldn't even make the news. 
I thought about how our driver wasn't wearing a seat belt and how to him and most of the other locals, everything that happens is "gods will." I am sure that comforted him, but let me assure you it did not comfort his atheist human cargo. 
Upon arriving to our destination we where lead into a small room with 2 beds. Our patient was laying on one of the beds and as we went to assess him we noticed something important, he was cold. After checking his skin tone/color, pupils, pulse, and respiratory rate we slapped the EKG patches on him to confirm the obvious... HE WAS DEAD. DOA, Dead on Arrival. In fact he had been dead for so long there was no reason to even attempt resuscitation efforts and we pronounced him dead for the police and gave them a copy of our report.
How funny that we came so close to death ourselves just to reach a corpse. I soon learned that we drove this way to every call, sometimes on the freeway going against traffic in the emergency lane. I saw a lot as the day went on. A man that was scalped with an exposed skull wondering around confused after an accident with a semi truck. We quickly shoved what was left of his scalp back over his skull and wrapped a large trauma dressing around it. As the day stretched on we had several other car accidents resulting in broken arms, shoulders, missing teeth, closed head injury's, open head injury's, burns, and almost anything else you could imagine. We even had a couple shortness of breathe and cardiac calls. This was all on 1 shift. 

I am going to be busy and get a lot of amazing experience but things are a lot different here and a lot more dangerous. Life is fragile here, and not just for the patients.


  1. Hey Mike, just started following your blog and as a citizen of Saudi Arabia, I hope you feel welcome!

    Also as a citizen of Saudi Arabia, I HIGHLY recommend you buy an Xbox 360, a PS3 or Wii if you don't want to sit around doing nothing :P

  2. Hi Mike! Welcome to KSA. Glad i stumbled on your blog and became interested in your would-be experiences as a paramedic and BLS provider. I cringe at that guy wandering around with an open skull (so it's true brain has got no sensation?) I too am an AHA certified BLS provider, but i think i dread any real-life brush with a cardiac arrest victim.

    Will be following your posts, in the meantime enjoy your stay in one of the most laidback capital cities on the planet.

  3. hi mike
    i can say wow!! for the way u describe about ksa. they seem to have an extreme life style .


  4. Greetings Mike.

    I was just offered a position as a medic with SRCA. would love to hear from you anything you can share about working there before I make my decision. My email is

    I look forward to hearing from you and hopefully working with you in the near future.