Clear the Air

A man clutches at his throat, unable to breathe. As his oxygen level plummets, the race is on to get a tube safely into his trachea in a matter of seconds.

The ambulance-bay doors hissed apart. A man staggered in. Face contorted in panic, hand on his throat, he croaked, “I can’t breathe!” Not true, I thought dimly. Here you are, shouting at us. Victoria, the triage nurse, hustled him into the trauma slot. More nurses swarmed. “You’ll be OK,” I said. Eyes wide, he dropped his hand. He was thin and sinewy, so I expected him to sport a prominent Adam’s apple. Instead, he uncovered a sickly blue mound. I reache...

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