Lament for the Lost

Lament for the Lost

I am submerged in sorrow. 
Facing the computer, entering figures 
Into a database on cardiac arrest, 
I have come to know the cadence of death. 

Time of collapse? Not witnessed. 
Bystander CPR? No. 
9-1-1 till EMS on scene? 10…15 minutes. 
Till defibrillator use? Even longer. 
Patient in shockable rhythm? Not anymore. 
Return of spontaneous circulation? No. 
Survive to hospital admission? No. 
Survive to hospital discharge? No chance. 

Case after case after tragic case. 
The forms are flat and marred with black fax smudges. 
They mask the dimensions of another life lost. 

John, 67. Anna, 82. Lisa, 45. Mark, 17. 
Someone’s father, someone’s aunt, someone’s mother, someone’s child. 
Never to come home again— 
Nor granted the grace of a final good-bye. 
Lives unfinished or just begun. 
Snatched away all too soon. 

How many more will it take? 
How many more hearts have to break? 

If they found a cure for cancer, would we dismiss it unconcerned? 
Would we skim the headlines and get on with our day? 
Then why do we ignore the cure for this killer? 
We know the answer— 
We have known it for a long, long time. 

Call 9-1-1 and get help on the way 
Do CPR and don’t delay 
Shock them back with a defibrillator. 
Make it sooner, never later. 

So simple, this Chain of Survival. 
So simple, preserver of life. 

But we turn the page, we turn the channel, we click delete. 
Not enough money, not enough time 
Never thought it would happen here— 
Until it is too late. 

Case after case after predictable case. 
Survive? No. 
Alive? No. 
Surprised? 

When will the people listen? 
The power is in their hands. 
The cadence of death so familiar 
Could have been life reborn. 

Fingers clacking, shoulders slacking. 
Death the victor once again. 

Mary M. Newman
Prehospital Emergency Care 2002(6):3.

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The mission of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) Foundation is to prevent death and disability from sudden cardiac arrest. The vision of the SCA Foundation is to increase awareness about sudden cardiac arrest and influence attitudinal and behavioral changes that will reduce mortality and morbidity from SCA.

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