Higgins stood against the wall, unable to take his eyes off the naked, lifeless body on the bed. The tumult of the room became a blur. The clamor of voices and alarms merged into white noise. With every chest compression, John Doe’s arms bounced slightly, slipping off the sides of the bed until it looked like he’d been nailed to a cross. A loud snap cut through the din as the intern pumped the left side of the chest—a broken rib. The chief resident issued the command to hold compressions so he could check the rhythm. The intern stopped pumping. The monitor revealed ventricular fibrillation.
“Let’s shock him, two hundred joules,” the chief resident said.
Globs of jelly were smeared on the defibrillator paddles to maximize the conduction of electricity, the paddles then pressed against the chest.
“Clear!” said the intern, and when everyone had backed away from the bed, he fired.
Doe’s back arched as though he’d been shot. Everybody in the room looked up at the monitor. Ventricular fibrillation.
“Shock him again, two hundred.”
The intern yelled, “Clear,” and fired.
A violent arch of the back. A spastic jerk of the arms. No change on the monitor.
“Resume compressions, and give him epinephrine, one amp.”
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