Quick advice on how you guys react during acute family member situation


Forum Ride Along
Hello everyone,
I've been an Emt for 8 months now. Working emergencies only in a busy urban city. I always react fast and do proper protocol/procedure and never blank out or freeze.

So yesterday I was driving home from the barber and my mother calls me yelling to run upstairs that my grandfather was feeling sick, breathing poorly, and not acting himself. I was only a few blocks away and quickly rushed up stairs in a matter of minutes to go see whats going on. He was pallor, hr 40, sob, and ams. Usually he is walking, talking, and even somewhat athletic. I completely froze and panicked.

Ive seen patients in this state before and it was just terrifying to see it on my own family member who I love dearly.

My mother called the volunteer ambulance in my area to come and bring medics. Medics arrived within minutes and started giving him fluids, ekg, o2 etc... and asked me questions but I froze, I wasn't able to answer questions to my ability and didn't give them a full report.

It was as if, I didn't know what to do or now what was going on.
Is this normal ? Did I let my emotions get the best of me?
I feel like I could've done something to help him but I just ran up and felt so helpless.
Has this ever happened to anybody before ?
(PS. we made it to the ER and pacemaker was installed, everything is okay now.)


Forum Crew Member
First off, I am so glad to hear that your grandfather is okay!

So, it's hard. We generally detach to be able to act when it comes to our patients. Even when we are super invested and personable, we understand 'it's not our emergency'. This was your emergency. It's understandable how that happened to you.

In hindsight think about it, what could you have done. He needed a pacemaker. Maybe done compressions? I've had to do CPR on my own father, and I did the opposite. I went completely robotic even in directing my mother to put the dog away, move stuff, etc. but I also had a few years under my belt at that time.

Use this as a learning experience. You got to feel, first hand, how some of your patients families may feel when we show up. What could someone have done to help YOU be more helpful and effective at that time? Maybe take you to another room to ask you questions? Don't get frustrated with the families when they have the same reaction.

Good luck in your career going forward. If you ever wanna talk about it, you can always shoot me a message here.

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Forum Probie
I completely agree. When my father died, I found him on the kitchen floor, pulseless, apenic, I went into "medic" mode. I realized he had a DNR and said, "I have to honor his wishes." I regretted that decision, but, I've learned to deal with it.

To learn from it, maybe make an emergency info sheet keep it in a safe place. Like the fridge.

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Forum Probie
Don't beat yourself up over it. As PassionMedic said, "It 'was' your emergency." Glad your grandfather is doing better. Never forget you're just human, not Superman. Shake it off.