My First Patient to Crash

On Friday, a patient crashed on me after surgery.

Ever since I graduated I have been dreading the day when this would happen to me for the first time outside of UC Davis and all of the safety nets that the school provides for students. I had a resounding fear that I would freeze, not know what to do, or not remember which medications and what doses to give.

It was a tiny puppy. Right after surgery was complete, a tech notified me that his gums were looking pale/gray. Immediately I was at his side, assessing him myself. I could barely detect a heart beat, but there *was* a heart beat. Maybe 20 beats per minute when it should be 150 or more. In the moments that I was assessing him, his color got worse. I immediately started to act and called a few techs and the other vet over to help. All of my fears manifested in just moments and all I could think was *I cannot lose this puppy!* …this puppy that, not 20 minutes ago, I had been playing with on the prep table while the techs got ready to put him under anesthesia. As they started CPR and tried to place a catheter, I grabbed bottles and syringes but didn’t panic. I acted. And so did my team.

With the IV medications I gave, the puppy’s heart rate rose for a minute or two and then started to fall again, but the color of his gums and tongue was improving. I gave more medications and continued to breathe for him as the team continued to try to get a catheter in. All of a sudden the puppy’s heart rate was climbing over 100 and his gums and tongue were pink. The most amazing sound in the world that brought tears to my eyes was the sound of the puppy crying as we took his tube out and he breathed big, healthy breaths on his own, very much alive!

On Friday, I saved a life. There is no better feeling in the world.

A special thanks to my wonderful team at HSSV! Saving lives is what we do.

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