July 2, 2007 Last act.

A day without activity...phones have been quiet.

My focus is on averaging a certain number of calls to complete requirements. I'm exhausted from the past few hectic days and enjoying a break as I take a nap. I'm anxious that perhaps this will drag on just a little longer. It's not a bad thing except that I am now hoping to finish with my original preceptor rather then start with a new one just for one last tour.

My preceptor and I joke often about my 'practicum gods' because strangely they've done just as I've requested. Nights where I wanted to sleep right through...I did. Days when I was ready for one or two calls...I got one or two calls. Days where I thought a certain time of day would be ideal, I got a call within a few minutes of that exact time.

And now as I begin to feel just a bit more comfortable...a smidge more like I might have a distant clue what I am doing I am ready to take on real emergencies.

And so it has been delivered.

Sudden onset CVA.

Possible benzo OD.

Dislocated shoulder.

The latest...within 5 minutes of my predicted time: self-inflicted GSW.

Running hot to the scene, EMS was activated almost immediately after the gun shot was heard. No bystander CPR was initiated. Thirty minutes to the scene.

We arrive to see laying in the driveway between us and the home a young adult...a rifle just a couple feet away. Without anything concrete to base it on I can feel the permanence of death in the air.

ALS on board with this one, I follow my medic to asses the patient. Covering our bases we each assess for signs of life and discuss our findings.

Vital signs absent, asystole on all leads: no signs of life to be seen, felt or heard. Injury not conducive to successful resuscitation with an entrance wound over the heart/aorta courtesy of the close range 410 gauge rifle used. Time lapsed since injury and absence of resuscitation efforts. General presentation leaves nothing to hope.

Pronounced on scene our patient immediately becomes something new: a body. Our presence and skills no longer required back up RCMP have us blocked in and the coroner is no where to be found. Our supervisor confers with us after RCMP have requested that we help and transport the body back to the town morgue.

While we wait for the investigation necessities to be completed we stand together solemnly aware that family members are coming down the long driveway and out of the bush to be with the ones closest to the deceased. Our faces neutral: It's a different kind of quiet on a scene like this. Broken only by the devastated wails of a grief stricken mother as she gives her statement in the officer's cruiser.

We sit in our unit. Watching. Waiting...in silence. My partners thinking back over their previous experiences. Sharing small tidbits with each other and with me...for their own sake as they give thought to the scene in front of us...and for me as the student who has just experienced her first DOA.

As we turn around to leave, maybe a hundred meters away on the other side of where the body was are family members watching with a different kind of silence. Oblivious to the loud reflective vehicles that act as a backdrop to this tragic event. No one talking. No one moving. Eyes watching.

Looking at them, knowing the demographics...I know this isn't a first for most of them. And we all know it won't be the last for any of us.

We drive on. Sitting in my chair with the familiar rear view...staring down the length of a stretcher at the white plastic of a body bag and out the window the trees close like a curtain around the final scene.

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