THE PARA­MEDIC

SINCE JOIN­ING THE NSW AM­BU­LANCE SPE­CIAL OP­ER­A­TIONS UNIT IN 2003, GERRY PYKE HAS WIT­NESSED WAY TOO MANY TEENS LOSE THEIR LIVES TO DRUGS.

Dolly - - Doctor -

“Far too many times I go to jobs where young peo­ple are hav­ing a psy­cho­log­i­cal and/or phys­i­cal re­ac­tion to drugs. It’s cer­tainly changed the way I ap­proach the job and has broad­ened my per­spec­tive when try­ing to as­cer­tain what’s hap­pened with the pa­tient. Party drugs like ecstasy are of­ten at­trib­uted to youth deaths. The re­al­ity is that you have no clue what’s in the drug – there’s no la­bel stat­ing the chem­i­cal con­tents. Drug deal­ers cut drugs with chem­i­cals such as pool cleaner, sur­face cleaner, chlo­rine – you name it. Many peo­ple tak­ing drugs want to feel good, but some of the phys­i­cal re­ac­tions that may be ex­pe­ri­enced – like in­creased heart rate, tem­per­a­ture and blood pres­sure – can ac­tu­ally be a re­ac­tion to both the drug and its chem­i­cals. Every­one re­acts dif­fer­ently. Once, I was called to a 17-year-old girl whose mother found her un­con­scious in­side their home. When I ar­rived, the mother was try­ing to per­form CPR. We soon re­alised she had over­dosed on heroin, and we were un­able to re­vive her. Imag­ine the scene now, where this girl has had her clothes cut off to gain ac­cess to her veins and chest, she has vom­ited on her bed­room floor and her mother is watch­ing in hor­ror as we try des­per­ately to get her heart started again. When a teenage girl’s life is snatched by drugs, you strug­gle with it. My re­main­ing time with this young girl was spent try­ing to con­sole her mother. But what can a stranger say to com­fort the per­son who brought this girl into this life? Noth­ing. I was also fight­ing with my own emo­tions, ask­ing my­self if it was in­ten­tional or just a stupid mis­take. That’s the worst part of my job: see­ing young peo­ple de­stroy their lives by ex­per­i­ment­ing or suc­cumb­ing to peer pres­sure.”

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